Brandon Dubinsky: The Case Of Unlucky And Not ShootingDecember 24, 2011, by
Editor’s Note: This post was written prior to the Rangers/Flyers game last night. The numbers reflected in Dubinsky’s shot total and shooting percentage may be different when this post is published. However, they should not be that far off, barring a 5 goal night for the struggling center/winger.
There have been enough games played in the NHL season where we can start looking at shooting percentage and how it relates to performance. Using shooting percentage, we can see who is playing a bit over their heads, and who could be due for a big second half. Hockey can be a streaky game, and those with career highs in shooting percentage are likely to drop off a bit, while those with career lows can expect to see the puck bounce their way a bit more.
When looking at the latter, it’s tough to ignore Brandon Dubinsky, who is converting at a measly 3.9% of all shots taken (2 goals on 51 shots). There are two things that jump out here. First is the shooting percentage, which is a full six points below his career average (9.5%), but eight points below his percentage from last year (11.9%) and nine points below his numbers from 2009-2010 (12.1%). Basically, Dubinsky is getting unlucky. There could be a number of reasons for this, all of which are speculative at best. What we do know is that his shooting percentage is far below what he normally produces.
The second, and likely the most alarming, is the number of shots. Dubinsky is a shot taker, having never dropped below 150 shots taken. Last season he took 202 shots, and in 2009-2010 he took 165 shots in just 69 games (196 shot pace). To put things in perspective, that’s about 2.3 shots per game in those two seasons. This year, Dubi is averaging just 1.5 shots per game.
Generally when looking at stats like these, we talk about regression to the mean; ie: playing slightly above career averages and suspecting that there will be a cold streak to balance out the average numbers. However in Dubinsky’s case, this appears to be the exact opposite. Dubinsky is a prime candidate for progression to the mean, which means more shots as he gains more confidence, and hopefully more goals as his shot percentage climbs.
Taking this a step further, we can look at his ice time. In the Thursday game against the Islanders, when he was moved back up to the second line, Dubinsky played 13:56 at even strength with Brian Boyle and John Mitchell as his linemates. That’s a far cry from the Ryan Callahan/Artem Anisimov combo he played with last season. Dubi also received just 49 seconds of powerplay time, and none of that being with the top unit.
Ice time is earned, not given. Dubinsky has not earned more ice time yet. However, as his numbers (hopefully) return to the mean, he will get that ice time, and in turn be more productive. To get more ice time, Dubi simply needs to put more pucks on net. He’s averaging a full shot less per game than last year, and for whatever reason seems to be afraid to pull the trigger. A shooting Dubi is a productive Dubi. If we see shots, we could see a monster second half from him.