Monday, April 18, 2011

Dubinsky Takes The Lead When Rangers Need Him Most

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The New York Rangers forward core is not the most skilled group in the league.  The group is one that has few dynamic players capable of creating consistent offense for themselves and instead relies on the team’s grinding system to put them into a position to garner results.  Brandon Dubinsky can certainly play the grinding game and is at his best when he does so, but he also has a different level of skill to make him one of the few forwards the Rangers have that can true difference maker up front.  He was that player in Game 3.
For the first two games of their playoff series against the Washington Capitals he failed to do so and his team was down 0-2 in the series.  After a career regular season in which he recorded 24 goals and 30 assists, Brandon Dubinsky had been a complete nonfactor in to start the playoffs.  That changed in Game 3 of the series and with it, potentially, so did the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
At different points throughout the season it has been Dubinsky who has stepped up to lead the Rangers to victory.  Some night he has done it with his goals.  Other nights he has been the playmaker for a critical tally.  On all of those occasions he has led most through his will and that is what was on display Sunday as much as anything else.  The game winning goal was certainly not the prettiest and will never be mistaken for a highlight reel quality tally.  What the goal did show was the dynamic play that he is capable of and the impact he has when he plays with a level of determination and confidence in his game that was lacking to start the series. 
Dubinsky did much more than just score the game-winner on Sunday.  In 25:45 of ice time for New York, he had the goal plus an assist, and a game-high seven hits.  He along with Brandon Prust and Sean Avery set the tone for a physical game that would bring the Rangers back to the style they must play to be successful.  Beyond just the style, this season has shown, especially in the absence of Callahan, Dubinsky is the only Rangers forward capable of leading the way for this team. 
The playoffs are the time where a team’s best players must step up to the challenge and carry them through.  While he likely would not be a star on a skill laden team like the Capitals, but for New York he is the star they need on the offensive end of the ice.  Sunday afternoon was one of those games for Dubinsky as he breathed life into his team by getting them back in the series against Washington with a chance to even the proceedings on Wednesday night.  Now the Rangers need him to show the way again.