Blackhawks’ Jason Dickinson searching for offense but appreciating steady role

The scoring explosion scoring that started Dickinson’s Hawks tenure in October proved he’d landed on the right team. Now, he’s trying to get some of that scoring touch back.

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Jason Dickinson battles for the puck.

Blackhawks forward Jason Dickinson has continued playing well defensively but been less impactful offensively.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Forward Jason Dickinson’s scoring explosion after joining the Blackhawks on Oct. 15 — five points in his first four games and seven points in his first nine — was a little absurd.

He wouldn’t have wanted to start any other way, and the fact he flourished immediately was a sign he’d landed in the right place. But it also set an impossibly high standard for his production moving forward.

Over time, he has regressed to the mean. A traditionally defensive forward whose career-best offensive season is just 22 points, Dickinson has only three points — all assists — in his last 13 games.

“[During] times like this where we’re losing, you start overthinking and trying to do too much on one end instead of the other,” he said Monday. “You let certain areas slide. My area that I let slide is offense because I start thinking, ‘Well, I have to keep the puck out of the net and defend a whole lot harder.’

“That’s where I start to lack. Other guys maybe lack on the other side. I try to constantly get myself to remember I still have to do everything.”

Dickinson’s separation from Sam Lafferty, with whom he found instant chemistry, likely has contributed to his slowdown. Since Lafferty’s back injury, Dickinson has played primarily with Jujhar Khaira and either Colin Blackwell or MacKenzie Entwistle as his third-line wings.

With Lafferty now back in the lineup, coach Luke Richardson suggested Lafferty and Dickinson will soon reunite, potentially with Tyler Johnson, who might finally return from his ankle injury Tuesday against the Capitals. That trio’s offensive upside would be higher.

Regardless, Richardson is urging Dickinson to stay confident despite his scoring drought. (At this point, he seems to have given a variation of that message to almost every player.)

“Guys like that, you can’t worry too much about offense,” Richardson said. “Then they’re not confident and they’re cutting corners defensively, which is primarily his role. . . . When he has a start like he did this year, that’s just a bonus.”

The good news is Dickinson is still satisfied with his defensive play.

“I’ve been giving up very few inner-slot chances,” he said. “Most of the goals against are rush chances against [after] small breakdowns. . . . In the ‘D’-zone, I don’t think our line has given up anything. We defend quick, and we get pucks out.”

Dickinson doesn’t check the numbers on that himself. When it comes to scoring chances against, he can “pretty much replay them back in my head” and self-evaluate his performance that way, he said.

Nonetheless, the numbers support his claim. Over the Hawks’ last eight games, Dickinson has allowed the second-fewest high-danger scoring chances per minute, trailing only Entwistle.

And overall, he feels more stable, consistent and comfortable with the Hawks than he did last season with the Canucks. He has averaged a healthy 15 minutes per game and never has played below 12. And with his contract not up until 2024, he needn’t worry about the slowly approaching trade deadline, unlike many of his teammates.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two months [since the trade] but also only been two months,” he said. “It feels like it’s been forever, but also it’s still brand new.”

“The biggest thing for me is having a role, having a job, knowing what I’m supposed to do. I didn’t really know what I was doing a whole lot in Vancouver. There was so much turnover for me, game-to-game, period-to-period, shift-to-shift. I’ve gotten a role here and Luke trusts me with it, and that goes the longest way for me.”

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