The Rangers paltry offense has been bailed out over the past 9 games (in which they scored a meagre 19 goals) by the stellar goaltending and the overachieving defense. With Marc Staal getting back to his usual game shape the recent dip in play by Stu Bickel (rookie, to be expected) can be compensated for. However, it goes without saying that this offense needs to do more.
With the offense needing a shakeup it has perhaps shown just how important Brandon Dubinsky is to this team, a point which only emphasises the need for Dubinsky to play like he can. Prior to his shoulder injury Dubinsky was finding his feet. He had 8 points in his last 8 games, but more importantly he was playing physically, showing more confidence on the puck and above all making smarter decisions. If he can also improve his finishing when he returns (tonight?) the Rangers offense will get a huge lift.
All this brings us to Dubinsky’s opportunity. The Alaskan’s contract, ability and even future with the franchise has been questioned during a subpar season (and to an extent rightly so) but when he returns he has the chance to show that he can be the difference. Every team can have their star players but it is often those around them that make the difference; Dubinsky can be the Rangers difference maker.
The Rangers don’t possess anyone else like Dubinsky. His all-round skill set is unique. He can play physical, he is willing to fight all the while he can lead the rush and stick handle to a high standard. Dubinsky can play in every scenario and adjust to it. What he has never been able to show is an ability to do it for long stretches. Dubinsky now has the opportunity to help carry this team to an Atlantic division title.
Dubinsky can be the X factor on a team that has plenty of depth but not necessarily depth in the pure skill department. His presence can help create space for the likes of Gaborik and Richards and create matchup problems for the opposition. Dubinsky has a chance to make people forget about his subpar start and start to justify Glen Sather’s faith and his generous contract. Here’s hoping we’re all calling Dubinsky’s contract value for money come April.