DETROIT — Forward Alex DeBrincat sure looks NHL-ready.
DeBrincat scored the game-winner in the third period of the Blackhawks’ 4-2 preseason win over the Red Wings on Thursday, shortly after his previous goal was disallowed. Playing on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik, the native of nearby Farmington Hills, Michigan, also had an assist and created several scoring chances.
DeBrincat, 19, also scored in the Hawks’ home preseason game against the Red Wings and in the training-camp festival scrimmage that opened camp. He seems destined for a spot in the opening-night lineup; it’s just a matter of whether he can show enough of an all-around game to avoid a seasoning stint in Rockford. He’ll likely be slotted on a line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane, which means he’ll get plenty of offensive-zone starts and can be shielded against particularly tough defensive assignments.
The Hawks’ first two goals came from Panik (off a no-look pass from Toews) and Tommy Wingels (off a beautiful backhanded feed from Vinnie Hinostroza). DeBrincat’s goal came on a nifty give-and-go with defenseman Cody Franson, and Laurent Dauphin added an empty-netter.
Meanwhile, Anton Forsberg pretty much guaranteed himself the backup goaltender job with a second strong preseason performance (33 saves).
“He seems to have a good approach to the game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s fit in well with his teammates. In the net, he’s predictable, quick, and I like the way he moves.”
Corey Crawford gets the final start Saturday against the Bruins, so J-F Berube appears ticketed to Rockford.
Second-year pro Gustav Forsling, expected to take on an everyday role on the blue line, had a lousy game in Boston on Monday, putting a damper on what had been a solid camp. To be fair, the entire Hawks defensive corps other than Jan Rutta had a rough outing in that game.
“That consistency of putting it all together is what we’re looking for,” Quenneville said. “We need to see him grow in his game this year, whether it’s his intensity, whether it’s consistency, predictability on the back end. The ingredients are all there.”
The Hawks got their first look at the brand-new Little Caesars Arena, which replaced iconic Joe Louis Arena. Modeled after Montreal’s Bell Centre, the new building’s steep seating creates an intimate feel.
One thing it doesn’t have is the Joe’s distinct, pungent smell. It was part of the old rink’s old-school charm, but nobody really misses it.
“Not for a second,” Quenneville said with a smile.
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