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Battalion Breakdown: Brandon Dubinsky

Veteran center took on defensive role in 2018-19

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season on a player-by-player basis. Today, BlueJackets.com kicks off the series by looking at Brandon Dubinsky's season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2018-19 campaign. 

Brandon Dubinsky 

Number: 17 

Age: 33 

Birth date: April 29, 1986 

Height/Weight: 6-2, 205 

Position: Center/wing 

Nickname: "Dubi" 

Stats (Games, G-A-P, point shares): 61 GP, 6-8-14, 0.2 PS

Contract: Signed through 2020-21 

Columbus' successful last seven seasons -- four playoff berths, a new level of consistency, and now the first series win in franchise history -- coincides with the establishment of the old guard of Blue Jackets hockey, a fivesome of which Dubinsky is a part. 

Looking back to 2012-13, the lockout-shortened season in which Columbus rallied late to come within a tiebreaker of making a playoff appearance, the group of Dubinsky, David Savard, Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno and Sergei Bobrovsky have experienced all the highs and lows of the past seven campaigns.  

All five were critical players again in 2018-19, including Dubinsky, who had a hot start but then a number of injuries that knocked him out of the lineup repeatedly. In the end, he finished with six goals, eight assists and 14 points as well as a minus-16 rating in 61 games, but his ability to win faceoffs and play defense were key down the stretch and into the playoffs for Columbus. 

Entering the season: Long a dynamic two-way presence for the Blue Jackets, Dubinsky was determined to bounce back after what all sides would describe as a rough season in 2017-18. After averaging 16 goals and 52 points per 82 games in his first five seasons with the Blue Jackets, Dubinsky played in 62 games in an injury-plagued 2017-18 season with a 6-10-16 line.  

What happened: Things got off to a great start for Dubinsky, who had a goal and an assist in the first two games of the season. But then an oblique injury sidelined him for about a month, and when you add in a lower-body injury that sidelines him in January and a hip injury that kept him out in February, Dubinsky thrice had to step away from the team during the season. 

As a result, his offensive game never really got rolling, especially as Dubinsky was used largely in defensive situations and played a career-low 12:21 per game, but head coach John Tortorella went out of his way throughout the year to praise Dubinsky's defensive game as well as his ability to take faceoffs. 

"I think Dubi wants to play more minutes in more of an offensive role," Tortorella said late in the season. "It hasn't worked out that way. I think guys have played better. He has had a hell of year in the faceoffs. Although players don't always want to grab a hold of that, I think that's a really good thing. That's a very important thing. I think Dubi is smart enough to know that. I think Dubi has had a good year."

In the end, Dubinsky's offensive numbers closely matched what he did a season ago, as he had six goals and 14 points in 61 games. He also added a goal in the postseason while pairing with Boone Jenner and Riley Nash for much of the playoffs on a line that hounded opposing teams' top players.  

Perhaps Dubinsky's most important role throughout the season was on faceoffs, as he was often used to take draws both at center ice -- notably, he was often on the ice to take the opening faceoff of 3-on-3 overtime before heading to the bench -- and in the defensive zone. 

Highlight 

The Blue Jackets eked out a win Jan. 5 at Florida, and it was a key victory as the team had lost at Carolina to start the road trip and still faced a game at Tampa Bay on the trip. But Dubinsky's third-period goal gave Columbus the lead and led eventually to Seth Jones' OT winner.  

Video: CBJ@FLA: Dubinksy scores on the rush to take lead

By the Numbers 
  • 20.3: According to Hockey Reference, Dubinsky had an offensive zone start percentage rate this year during the regular season of 20.3, meaning he was used primarily in defensive-zone faceoffs this season, limiting his ability to create offense.  
  • 57.1: Dubinsky won 427 of 748 faceoffs this year, good for 57.1 percent, the second-best mark of his CBJ career after he went 58.3 percent at the dot in 2012-13. He was also good in the playoffs, winning 56.5 percent of his draws.  
  • 9.5: Dubinsky scored six goals this year on 63 shots on goal, a shooting percentage of 9.5 percent that was a big improvement from last year's 6.7 percent. But the fact that he was just north of one shot on goal per game was another sign he was used largely for his defense this past season.  
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