Brandon Dubinsky has meant a lot to the Rangers his first 4 NHL seasons. The 2004 2nd round pick of the Blueshirts has gotten progressively better each season culminating with him leading the team in overall points this past season. Despite this progression, he has always seemed to have left the fans wanting a bit more. Fans have moaned about his inconsistency, his tendency to seemingly take nights off and perception of an attitude problem that could range from cocky to apathetic.
Despite some of the negative feelings towards Dubinsky, most fans were very positive and upbeat when he signed a new 4 year contract for a cap hit of 4.2 million a year back inJuly right before he was scheduled to go to arbitration. The sentiment was that Dubi was going to take the next step. The new deal eliminated the fear of a repeat of his contract squabble with General Manager Glen Sather two years before that saw him hold out of training camp for a period and miss several exhibition games. On the heels of the Rangers signing the big free agent fish on the market, former Conn Smythe trophy winner Brad Richards, getting an important piece like Dubi signed long term was music to everyone’s ears.The 2011-12 NY Rangers season is now 4 games in. Last night we saw the team get their first win of the season as All-World goaltender Henrik Lundqvist basically stole 2 points from the Vancouver Canucks in a 40 save shutout. The same problem reared its head for the team once again as the team once again found themselves shorthanded all night long.
Part of the excitement with getting Dubinsky locked up, and captain Ryan Callahan too, is that the team has the components of two very solid forward lines. The Rangers have a number of guys who can provide scoring beyond all-stars Richards and Marian Gaborik. The nightly parade to the box is killing perceived scoring depth however, and nobody on the team appears to have lost their game more than Dubinsky.
Brandon Dubinsky has no shots on goal the last two games on Long Island and in Vancouver. He has 3 shots on goal total in the first 4 games this season. This is a man that had 202 shots on goal in the 77 regular season games played last season. Besides the fact that Dubi has been himself the culprit of several brainless lazy penalties, he has also been saddled with the role of being the primary penalty killer on the team leading the league in penalties so far in this very young 2011-12 NHL season. He is averaging 5 minutes a night of energy sapping penalty killing against the top powerplay units of the Rangers opponents. Dubinsky hasn’t once resembled the player that led the team in scoring last season and scored one of the more thrilling Rangers goals in recent memory when he tallied the game winner in Game 3 in the playoff round vs. the Washington Capitals last spring at MSG.
The Rangers desperately need that Brandon Dubinsky to show up this season. This is a player taking the next step? He is nowhere to be found and is a huge part of the reason why this team could be 0-2-2 if Lundqvist didn’t steal the show in Vancouver last night. Thus this begs the question, did the Rangers just waste 4.2 million a year on a penalty killer? Too early to say at this juncture, but one of many disturbing trends early in this season for your New York Rangers.
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