Alex DeBrincat shows off personality at All-Star Weekend but falls short of championship
DeBrincat represented the Blackhawks well with three points in Saturday’s 2022 NHL All-Star Game, but the Central Division lost to the Metropolitan in the final matchup.
It turns out Blackhawks wing Alex DeBrincat and Wild star Kirill Kaprizov have some chemistry together.
DeBrincat and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr do, too.
NHL All-Star Weekend proved to be full of unlikely combinations for DeBrincat. And his first trip to the NHL’s highest-profile midseason event — under the lights of Las Vegas — also offered him an opportunity to show off the more playful side of his typically soft-spoken personality.
‘‘[I was] playing with some new guys — obviously very skilled players — and I had a blast out there,’’ he said Saturday. ‘‘It gets you away from [your] regular routine, and you get to have some fun with some guys. It was . . . a great time.’’
On a line with Blues forward Jordan Kyrou and Coyotes forward Clayton Keller during the All-Star Game, DeBrincat dominated the Central Division’s semifinal matchup against the Atlantic Division.
He earned the secondary assist on Kyrou’s opening goal, then beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy under the bar on a breakaway before burying a pretty setup from Kaprizov to put the finishing touches on the Central’s 8-5 victory.
He was held off the scoresheet during the Central’s 5-3 loss to the Metropolitan Division in the final, however, losing out on a chunk of the $1 million prize given to the winning team.
DeBrincat appeared to have narrowed the Central’s deficit to a goal after finding open space in the slot and ripping a shot past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, but the goal was overturned as offside.
‘‘I kind of knew I was offside,’’ DeBrincat admitted later. ‘‘I was hoping they didn’t review it.’’
The effort level across the board appeared to increase significantly from the semifinals to the final and perhaps even neared 100% as the Central sent out an extra attacker and peppered Jarry with shots in the waning minutes.
Those moments washed away any earlier concerns that the NHL’s three-on-three approach to the All-Star Game might have lost its luster. The all-out effort teams put into winning when the bracket format debuted in 2016 hasn’t fully lasted, but this format has maintained most of its appeal.
‘‘Toward the end there, we obviously wanted to win,’’ DeBrincat said. ‘‘[The Metropolitan players] were shutting it down pretty good. They had guys back all the time. Our first game was more ‘breakaway and breakaway.’ But they always had guys back, so we ran into some trouble.’’
The skills competition, conversely, has moved in the opposite direction. Perhaps wisely for the NHL, it almost entirely values entertainment above actual competition.
DeBrincat’s entry in the breakaway contest Friday maxed out the absurdity factor. Wearing a fake beard and carrying a fake baby to resemble Zach Galifianakis’ character in ‘‘The Hangover’’ — and accompanied by an entourage featuring Carr and an inflatable tiger — DeBrincat’s ‘‘breakaway’’ involved catching a miniature football from Carr, dropping it on the ice and knocking it into the net on his backhand.
He didn’t exude quite as much natural showmanship as fellow breakaway contestants Trevor Zegras (Ducks) and Jack Hughes (Devils) did, but he clearly pushed himself outside his comfort zone — something that only will help elevate his profile as an emerging superstar.
And, best of all, he was able to enjoy a weekend away from the misery of the Hawks’ situation.
‘‘We’ve gone through a little bit of a rough patch, and it’s nice to get away from the game a little bit,’’ he said. ‘‘[I’ll] get refocused in the next few days, but it was fun to have this weekend.’’