If you are looking for a reason as to how the Blackhawks have crawled their way back into playoff contention, look no further than rookie winger Dominik Kubalik. The rookie has surprised everyone around the league and has helped solidify the team's top line on Jonathan Toews' wing. He was impressive enough in January to be named NHL's Rookie of the Month.
You read that graphic correctly, ten goals in ten games for Kubalik. Not too shabby for a guy who seemingly came out of nowhere. General manager Stan Bowman has made a habit out of grabbing European wingers in various offseasons. Those wingers seemingly all got an opportunity to play alongside Jonathan Toews. However, for most of them, little success came to fruition.
For Kubalik, the exact opposite has been the case. He has been the perfect complement to Toews' hard-nosed game. Kubalik isn't afraid to go to the net, he battles hard along the boards, and has plenty of finish to his game, as evidenced by his ten goals in January.
For the Blackhawks to inch themselves back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017, they will need Kubalik to keep this production going. With the addition of Drake Cagguila from injured reserve, Kubalik, Toews, and Cagguila have created a formidable first line that gives opponents fits.
Coming into the season, the Blackhawks appeared to be one top-six winger short. This becomes a huge issue when Patrick Kane's second line is the only line with a high-end offensive threat because teams can simply devote their best defensive grouping to Kane's on-ice time. With the Toews' line now rolling to the beat of Kubalik's game, the Blackhawks become more and more dangerous.
At just 24 years old, Kubalik also provides more bright spots to the Blackhawks future with a surprisingly young roster. The rookie winger ranks second in goals on the team with 21 and sits fourth in points with 32 through 49 games.
For all you young hockey players out there, good things happen to those who go to the net. Far too often a Hawks winger will take a shot, create a rebound opportunity, and see the opposite winger go flying past the net. That is not part of Kubalik's game, as he drives to the net and creates havoc. He does all the little things right, and those little things help add up to being the NHL's Rookie of the Month.