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Despite solid production, Kirby Dach not generating enough shots for Blackhawks

Dach passed up several prime shooting opportunities Friday against the Avalanche, continuing a recent trend.

Kirby Dach has cooled off lately, with zero goals and one assist in his last four games entering Friday’s matchup against the Avalanche.
AP Photos

Rookie center Kirby Dach’s basic scoring totals look amazing for an 18-year-old. But his underlying statistics are more of a mixed bag.

Entering Friday, Dach had been efficient on his five-on-five offensive opportunities — whether that was because of skill, luck or a mixture of both is hard to determine — but he actually hadn’t generated a lot.

On one hand, a large portion of Dach’s shots turn into promising scoring chances. He gets his shots on goal with the second-highest accuracy among Hawks forwards. He ranks fourth and first, respectively, among Hawks forwards in the percentage of shots that turn into scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances. He also leads the team with a .217 shooting percentage (shots on goal that are goals).

On the other hand, Dach just doesn’t shoot all that often. He’s averaging only 9.9 shots per 60 minutes this season, ranking ninth among the Hawks’ 13 primary forwards. Shoot-first guys such as Dominik Kubalik and Alex DeBrincat, by comparison, take more than 14 shots per 60 minutes.

That lack of quantity raises concerns that Dach — the third overall pick in the draft in June — might not be able to maintain his impressive box-score production (five goals, five assists in 19 games), which for now has him tied with second pick Kaapo Kakko and one point behind first pick Jack Hughes in the 2019 draft competition.

Still, coach Jeremy Colliton is unfazed about Dach’s development.

‘‘You always want him to create more, absolutely,’’ Colliton said Friday. ‘‘But we’re focusing on the defensive side, too. When he plays center, there’s a lot of responsibility defensively, and he’s making strides there. He’s shown he can produce for us, so it’s a normal progression for him.’’

With Dylan Strome (concussion) out indefinitely, Dach was lifted to the second line alongside Patrick Kane and DeBrincat on Tuesday against the Stars.

But Friday against the Avalanche, Dach passed on several prime scoring opportunities in arguably his most blatant display of a reluctance to shoot yet. None of his passes worked, and Dach’s squandered chances contributed to the Hawks’ 5-2 loss at the United Center.

Colliton subsequently demoted Dach to the fourth line with Zack Smith and Matthew Highmore. He ultimately was credited with only one shot in the game.

Despite defending Dach’s progression earlier in the day, Colliton sent a clear message to the young center. At least there’s a clear recipe moving forward for how Dach can improve his play.