The Farmington Hills product has been full of energy through the first two days at Centre Ice Arena, playing Friday on a line with Dylan Larkin and David Perron, one day after taking the ice with Larkin and Lucas Raymond.
The Wings acquired the 25-year-old forward in a trade with the Ottawa Senators in July, and then signed him to a four-year, $31.5 million contract. DeBrincat comes to the Wings off a 27-goal season with the Senators, after twice reaching 41 goals during five seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.
DeBrincat is confident he can recapture that 40-goal form in a new uniform.
"A lot of it is different looks in different situations," DeBrincat said Friday. "I’ve got to focus a little more on bearing down when I get my chances. I think last year I gave up a lot of chances, maybe got lazy on it or whatever it may be, hit a post, stuff like that. I think a lot of it was like that. I’m pretty comfortable getting back to that form and obviously, we have a lot of great players here to play with, so I’ll just try to find the space out there and they’ll get me the puck."
DeBrincat made a point of noting that he wants to bring a better 200-foot game to Detroit: "Last year I didn’t have the best two-way game, but in past years I’ve been a pretty good two-way forward, and that’s what I have to get back to. That creates so many more chances for me and my linemates."
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The lines in camp, which runs through Monday, are in daily flux, and coach Derek Lalonde said "we're not even married to Alex and Dylan yet, even though we’ve had a couple days with them. I think there will be a lot of looks."
One of the other looks on Day 2 had Raymond with J.T. Compher and Robby Fabbri. "They had some pop, made a ton of plays," Lalonde said. Another had Andrew Copp with Michael Rasmussen and Christian Fischer.
The lines are a "work in progress," as Lalonde put it, but given how Larkin transports the puck and uses his speed to open up room for his linemates, it's hard to think Larkin and DeBrincat won't start the season together. And Perron certainly made a case for himself to be a part of that group.
"Lucas probably fits those two a little more on entries and transition, but what DP can do is down-low play," Lalonde said. "You saw on some of their reps, they had extended O-zone time. David keeps plays alive and he makes plays in tight areas. It was good today. It was a good look."
Perron is a hardnosed veteran who isn't afraid to go the dirty areas and understands how to use his strengths to fit a linemate as gifted offensively as DeBrincat is.
"He's obviously a good shooter," Perron said. "I’ve noticed a couple times he’s looking for that backdoor play, those little passes. I’m sure all the goalies really honor his shot and he’s kind of figured out ways around that to keep them honest and maybe they’re going to have to stay back in the net more. Just little things like that. He’s extremely smart.
"I think if there’s ever a chance I play with those two, I have to be around the net quite a bit, and that’s something I have to be ready for."
The Wings begin an eight-game exhibition slate on Tuesday (against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Detroit), and that provides an even better opportunity for all the veteran newcomers — up front, that includes DeBrincat, Fischer, Compher, Kostin Klim and Daniel Sprong — to acclimate to their new team.
"I’ve never played with a lot of these guys," DeBrincat said. "I’ve played with Dylan a little bit at World Championships. Chemistry is super important to get out of the way early and learn how they play, learn where they like to be, and then you can play off each other, which makes the game a lot easier."
DeBrincat got a taste of what it is like to adapt to a new team when he joined the Senators, but with the Wings, it's different. It's coming home, it's suiting up in the uniform of the team he cheered for as a kid. Two months into his employment, it's still sinking in.
"Over the summer sometimes it would hit me, and sometimes it wasn’t fully there," he said. "Once I started going to the rink every day the past couple weeks, it really hit me. It’s been a fun time so far. It’s really exciting for me.
"Growing up for me, they were making the playoffs every year and they were so fun to root for. I’m hoping to get back to that stage of winning and really contributing here."
Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings' Alex DeBrincat 'got lazy,' can still score 40 goals