Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dubinsky Ascends To All-Star Heights

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Many of us are having fun with the Sean Avery for All-Star Game idea that was originally brought up at least to my vision by Kevin @NYRBlog, but right now I want to be a little more serious and start a series on which Rangers I believe have played their way into the All-Star Game.  The players which will be in this series you already know from last week when I complained they were not even on the initial ballot are Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.  For the first in the series I will tackle the case for Brandon Dubinsky.

For Rangers fans the ascension of Dubinsky this season has been a welcomed sight after hoping for his breakout to come over each of the last two seasons.  Frustration built for many with the slow pace of his improvement and even more with the inconsistency in his results.  I am sure there are still quite a few Rangers fans out there who are waiting to see when this year’s slump will kick in and the prince of the first 18 games will turn back into the proverbial toad. 

A few weeks back I wrote about how neither he nor Callahan was likely to keep up the pace they were on, and I still don’t know they Dubinsky is going to keep up what is now a 77 point pace, but I can easily envision him getting 65-70 points with 25-30 goals as long as he continues shooting the puck at a high rate.  He has not been shooting the puck much of late as he only has 8 shots in the last 5 games, not surprisingly all of which he is scoreless, but in those same games he does have 3 assists and strong play both at even strength and on the penalty kill.  The reason I believe this season is going to be different for Dubinsky in terms of overall production and not having the slump is because his work rate in every game is the same as he is getting in on the fore-check, cycling the puck well, creating chances for himself or teammates every night as opposed to prior years where he could dominate on a night and disappear for multiple games.

Right now Dubinsky ranks tied for 5th in goals (10) and 22nd in points (17) in the league, while also being tied for 2nd in shorthanded goals (2) and tied for 3rd in shorthanded points (3).  His powerplay work of 3 goals and 3 assists is not overly impressive statistically but he has been one of the key contributors to the Rangers being respectable with the man advantage this year.

In addition to the statistical qualifications which Dubinsky clearly meets with 10 goals and 7 assists in 18 games, there are the other factors in his candidacy.  In the third game this season the Rangers lost their best offensive player in Marian Gaborik and the question was whether the Rangers would be able to score in his absence and they were able to whether that loss mainly because of the offense provided by a the line Dubinsky plays on.  Dubinsky, though playing the wing this season, in the absence of Chris Drury is left to take most every critical faceoff in the game, especially late in games or periods and all face-offs on the penalty kill.  The growth of Dubinsky from a solid 2nd line player to a legitimate first line/All-star caliber player and future letter wearer this season is why a Rangers club that was probably not a playoff team before the season is sitting in 4th place in the Eastern Conference right now.  He has earned his way to Carolina now it is up to Rangers fans to do the work necessary to send him there.