Dubinsky Knows His Role
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Saturday, February 9, 2008
NEW YORK - When the New York Rangers managed to sign both Chris Drury and Scott Gomez on the same day this offseason, they also made a commitment to youngster Brandon Dubinsky. Getting a cup of coffee with the Blueshirts after a 21-goal season with their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack, Dubinsky went scoreless in six games last season. This season, however, Dubinsky has quickly developed into a solid two-way center, netting nine goals and adding 14 assists for 23 points.
Earning praise from both the Rangers coaching staff and his teammates for his on-ice grit and poise, Dubinsky’s ice time has steadily increased as the season has gone on. As a result, his teammates have gotten a better glimpse of him and are now extremely comfortable with what he does on the ice.
“He can carry a couple of guys on his back when he carries the puck,” said former linemate Petr Prucha. “He makes it easier for whoever he’s playing with to score.”
With increased ice-time, Dubinsky’s game has begun to blossom. In his last 11 games, the 21-year-old has five goals and nine points and has helped New York, creep its way back into the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“When we stick to our system and our game plan, we have the personnel to be successful in this league,” Dubinsky said. “It’s just a matter of being focused.”
While the Rangers have plenty of options on offense, they have struggled mightily at times for production. Even though his inspired play as of late has re-inspired a Rangers team that desperately needed a spark, no one would be upset if Dubinsky simply reverted back to his solid two-way game and wasn’t scoring as much. Regardless of the lack of pressure on him to produce offensively by his teammates and the media, Dubinsky has his own expectations he has to live up to.
“I just have to make sure I contribute every night,” Dubinsky said. “I don’t focus on what the other lines are doing, I focus on what me and my lines are doing. I try and take care of my linemates and myself when I’m on the ice and you can’t do that if you’re focused on other things. I don’t think there is real pressure for me to score all the time, but I put that type of pressure on myself. Hopefully, when I score, it will take the pressure off of everyone else and help the team.”
Nevertheless, Dubinsky understands his role and knows his current hot-streak won’t last forever.
“It just feels like Scottie and Jarmo [Rangers forwards Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr] have to get three points a game or else we don’t win,” said Dubinsky. “We as a team have to focus on chipping in more. If we do that, it’ll take the pressure off of them and give us a boost as a team. Those guys are going to do their thing naturally.”
With Dubinsky so hot lately [he scored two goals in the NHL young stars game against the likes of first round picks Patrick Kane, Jack Johnson and Sam Gagne] he has showed the rest of the league that he’s much more than a checking center. Getting playing time on the powerplay, including an occasional shift with future hall of famer Brendan Shanahan over the past few games, Dubinsky’s star is one that will only get brighter in time.
A small sample of his character, the laid back and modest Dubinsky is still in awe of where he is. Unsure if he was originally going to make the team or not this season, Dubinsky still plays every game on the ice like he has something to prove. Anyone who has watched him play this season might argue that that’s the only way he knows how to.
“I just take things day by day, said Dubinsky, who hails from Anchorage, Alaska. “I never get settled in and get too ahead of myself. I try to earn my spot every night. I try and contribute in every way I can. Sometimes, I have a bad game or some bad shifts, but I try and make sure it doesn’t happen continuously and make sure that I answer back whenever I need to.”