Only three season ago, Dominik Kubalik netted 30 goals and appeared to be a goal-scoring prodigy for the Chicago Blackhawks. Three years later, he’s with the Detroit Red Wings.
And he’s off to a solid start.
While it’s only preseason, Kubalik has flashed speed with skill and has three goals in the exhibition season, including one in last night’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. All three goals have come against Pittsburgh, but his overall effort is what matters to head coach Derek Lalonde.
“He’s skating. Obviously he shoots the puck extremely well,” Lalonde said. “He’s got three goals already in the preseason which is a good sign.”
The confidence piece is something the Detroit Red Wings can only hope unlocks the goal-scoring machine that took the league by storm during the 2019-20 season.
Kubalik Saying and Doing the Right Things
Former Blackhawks teammate and current Red Wings teammate Pius Suter joked about how many new faces were in the locker room for his second season in Hockeytown. But while Suter could chuckle, Kubalik had to acclimate to a new team and system. So far, the early returns are positive.
“Obviously he’s confident,” Lalonde said. “I didn’t expect him to skate this well. With what we’re trying to with being on top, establishing a forecheck, and getting back above, he does those things and he does them well.”
Lalonde has talked often about play away from the puck, and his words speak to Kubalik’s willingness–and success–in doing just that. Kubalik spoke to how he would put more emphasis on improvement.
“I’m just trying to put my game where I want it to be,” Kubailk said before the preseason started. “I’m just still gonna stay with my shot and my speed. Be around the net where the goals are scored. And on the other side, to just be good in our zone and be in a good spot, block some shots.
That’s what I’m gonna do.”
Preseason Play Could Bring Momentum To the Regular Season
With just three preseason games remaining, the crunch is on to begin assembling what will be the opening night roster.
Derek Lalonde said after talking with Steve Yzerman, it was time to start getting reps with groups that could be NHL lineups. Added this group playing tonight will probably get Friday too. #LGRW
— Daniella Bruce (@daniellabruce_) October 3, 2022
Kubalik’s spot on the roster is assured, but where he begins could be anywhere from the third line to possibly the top line, if Lalonde does indeed go the “blender” route. Even in a down year for the organization, Kubalik had 32 points (15 goals) with the Blackhawks while they kicked off their rebuild. With a team on the rise and surrounded by more talent, 30 goals could be the high hope, but 20 certainly seems likely if everything goes right.
The only question left is where Kubalik will be slotted in when the opening-night lineup is revealed on October 14th.