'He knows how to score goals': Blackhawks confident goal-starved Kubalik will find net soon

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks left wing Dominik Kubalik celebrates a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2020 season.

    Blackhawks left wing Dominik Kubalik celebrates a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2020 season. Associated Press/Feb. 27, 2020

 
 
Updated 11/20/2021 1:24 PM

Before the Blackhawks began a recent practice at Fifth Third Arena, Derek King sat down with Dominik Kubalik to go over some video.

While sipping on a cup of coffee, the interim coach wanted to show his goal-starved forward that he's doing a lot of good things all over the ice.

 

Kubalik liked the message, but still shook his head and said: "Ahh -- I've got to score!"

Indeed, Kubalik's goal-scoring ability is why the Hawks signed him to a two-year, $7.4 million contract before last season. And he's certainly delivered, racking up 47 scores in his first 124 games.

Still, slow starts are nothing new for the 26-year-old Czech Republic native, who is now in his third season.

• As a rookie, Kubalik had 5 goals after 27 games. He then caught fire by scoring 23 times in the next 35 contests en route to a 30-goal campaign.

• Last season, Kubalik had just 3 goals through 16 games then scored seven times in the next 12.

• Kubalik had just 3 goals after 16 games this season heading into Saturday's late game at Edmonton.

So is a hot stretch right around the corner? King believes it's definitely possible.

"He'll score because it's like riding the bike," said King, who racked up 261 goals in 830 NHL games for the Islanders, Maple Leafs, Whalers and Blues. "You know how to ride the bike. If you don't ride for 10 years, you still know how. He knows how to score goals."

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Kubalik's greatest strength is his versatility as a goal-scorer because while he has an absolute howitzer of a one-timer, he's also willing to get in the dirty areas in front of the net to clean up rebounds. He also stunned quite a few goalies last season by simply flicking the puck between their legs on breakaway chances or odd-man rushes.

Now, they seem more than ready for his tricky little move.

"I think everyone knows, right?" said a smiling Kubalik. "Even my friends called me. 'Like, it's enough.' I know, I know!

"But sometimes when you're in the scoring chance, you don't really think. You just do some moves you've been doing and get you to success. ...

"I can say you guys are not gonna see the five-hole (shot) for a long time now."

Kubalik vowed to adopt a shoot-first mentality and he certainly show that early on during a 4-2 victory at Seattle on Wednesday by putting 2 pucks on net in the first 11-plus minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After that, though, Kubalik only managed 1 more shot attempt (and it was missed) while seeing a season-high 19 minutes, 49 seconds of ice time.

In the big picture, Kubalik came away with a much more positive outlook after that video session with King.

"It helped me a lot," said Kubalik, who is averaging nearly 16.5 minutes of ice time, a full minute more than last season. "When I saw the videos I kind of felt like I was doing the right things. So that's good.

"Away from the puck (has been) my problem. Just getting my legs going, be on the forecheck, be physical. Those (are) things I need to do automatic(ly) on every shift."

As for finding his scoring touch again? Kubalik has no doubt it will come in time.

"The good goal scorers always find a way," he said. "Everybody knows that (Alex) Ovechkin is going to shoot the one-timer on the power play. It still goes in.

"It looks easy. So I've just got to find a way to (make it) look easy too."

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