Blackhawks’ DeBrincat shines in homecoming
Things weren’t going well for Alex DeBrincat or his Chicago Blackhawks when they came into Little Caesars Arena to play the Red Wings Thursday night, the last contest for both teams before the All-Star Break.
DeBrincat, the 20-year-old rookie right wing from Farmington Hills, had not scored a goal in seven games. And the Blackhawks had lost their previous four games (0-3-1) and had won only one of their last six.
But things got better for both parties during and after the game.
DeBrincat led the way with three goals and an assist while Chicago easily defeated Detroit 5-1.
Obviously, for someone who grew up in the Red Wings country and idolized Steve Yzerman and Pavel Datsyuk as a youngster, it was a great accomplishment for his first NHL game in Detroit.
“The puck was bouncing my way today. It feels good to get that done in front of my family and friends,” DeBrincat told the Chicago Tribune. “ … The guys wanted to get it to me. Pretty cool they were able to do that.”
It was DeBrincat’s second hat trick of the season. The first came on Nov. 27 in a 7-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
He also joined some pretty decent company.
DeBrincat is only the second rookie in Blackhawks history with two or more hat tricks in his rookie season. The only other one is Steve Larmer, who did in 1982-83. Larmer went on to record 406 goals and 923 points in a 15-season career with Chicago and the New York Rangers.
DeBrincat is also the first U.S.-born rookie with two or more hat tricks in a season since Peter Mueller of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007-08.
Thursday night’s outburst gave DeBrincat 17 goals and 32 points in 49 games this season. His goal total is second to only Patrick Kane (20) on the team.
In his second game on the top line with captain Jonathan Toews and newly acquired Anthony Duclair, the diminutive rookie (5-7 and 165 pounds) whose nickname is understandably “The Cat,” didn’t take long to get on the scoresheet.
He gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 3:19 into the game with a turnaround shot from the top of the right circle that beat Jimmy Howard. Then, two minutes later, DeBrincat set up Duclair for a goal to make it 2-0.
And with 8:29 left in the second, DeBrincat combined on a give-and-go with Toews to make the score 4-0. DeBrincat completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal with 18.5 seconds left.
“Nice to see ‘The Cat’ have a big night in his hometown,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
It’s been a streaky rookie campaign for DeBrincat. He scored 11 goals from games 13-to-29 but managed only two markers in the next 19 games.
“The first half of the year, he seemed like he had (the puck) a lot more,” Quenneville told the Chicago Daily Herald. “When he has it a lot, things develop.”
DeBrincat clearly had the puck a lot Thursday night and things developed just fine for him and the Blackhawks.