Blackhawks forward Jason Dickinson is practicing hard to improve his shooting.
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Ten minutes or so after every other Blackhawk had left the ice Wednesday, center -Jason Dickinson was still there — all by himself — at the far end of Fifth Third Arena.
Dickinson, mired in a 16-game point drought and 26-game goal drought (now 17 and 27 games after Thursday’s win over the Avalanche), shot puck after puck after puck. He had set up a couple of tripod obstacles between himself and the net to make things harder and simulate shooting through traffic.
“[I was] just trying to work on changing the angles, seeing the gaps, getting it through,” Dickinson said. “That’s all I was thinking. A lot of times, there’s traffic, there’s feet and sticks, and you have to find the lane. Rather than just pick your spot in the net, you have to pick your spot through the defenders.”
In general, Dickinson — despite his self-critical nature — has been satisfied with his overall play.
The Hawks’ consecutive wins last weekend helped boost morale, and other than a tough minus-3 performance on New Year’s Day, he considers the last 10 games or so his best in a while. His frustration and lagging confidence in early December — a period in which he had “let certain areas slide” — have been largely resolved.
He just hasn’t been able to score “for the life of me.”
“I feel like I should be doing more, so that sucks,” he said. “We lose some close games, and it feels like, ‘Maybe I could’ve contributed something. It could’ve been different if this happened.’ It’s easy to look back on things and say, ‘What should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.’
“I felt really good about my game. I just wasn’t getting on the scoresheet. I felt like I was playing really good hockey, and it just wasn’t happening. That is more encouraging than it is discouraging that I’m not getting the points.”
Dickinson’s defense-first playing style also used to feature some offensive spark. He surpassed the 20-point threshold in his first two full NHL seasons (2018-19, 2019-20) with the Stars. But he had only 15 and 11 points the last two seasons and has been stuck on 10 for a while this season.
Annoyingly for him, he’s shooting more than ever before, setting a career-high pace of 10.9 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five. He has been less accurate, though, with 53.1% of his attempts making it on-goal (down from 59.5% his first two seasons) compared to 29.6% getting blocked (up from 20.2% his first two seasons).
He hopes his extra individual practice Wednesday — and throughout the season — will eventually aid him in that regard. How so? Visually identifying a shooting lane is obviously important, but . . .
“It’s more so with your hands and your stick, creating the deception so the defender moves in a way that you want him to move, so it opens up the lane you want to open up,” he said. “Your eyes can help with that by looking in the wrong direction for him, but it’s a lot in the hands — pushing away or pulling back. A lot of the top goal-scorers are able to change the angle every time they shoot.”
Simply shooting faster might help, too, because doing so gives the defender less time to anticipate what’s coming and reposition himself in the lane. Coach Luke Richardson has recently harped on that to the entire forward group.
“Sometimes a guy is just overthinking and taking that extra step looking for the perfect shot, so just a quicker twitch and getting those off a little quicker [can help],” Richardson said. “Teams are so quick to close now, it gets frustrating when you don’t get a good shot off. I like him working on it.”


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