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In crucial moments, Jackets turn to Dubinsky

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Brandon Dubinsky is quickly becoming one of the Blue Jackets’ go-to players in clutch situations.

His five full seasons with the New York Rangers consisted of 31 playoff games, and that experience is something he frequently relies on. Since joining the Blue Jackets over the summer, he’s wanted to be one of the players on the ice protecting a lead in the third period and also one of the players charged with finding the tying goal.

Though the offense hasn’t arrived yet for the 26-year-old center (one assist in the first six games), his impact is noticeable. Dubinsky began the 2012-13 season playing the wing on a line with Artem Anisimov and Derek Dorsett, but has since switched back to the middle to center a unit with Derick Brassard and Matt Calvert.

In last night’s 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena, Dubinsky played one of his strongest and most impactful games with Columbus. He logged 19:36 – second most among Blue Jackets forwards – with most of them coming in the third period and on the penalty kill.

And for a young Blue Jackets club that’s still seeking a complete, 60-minute performance, Dubinsky’s “winning time” minutes provide a prime example of what’s expected every single night.

“We have to keep going up, and keep getting better every game,” Dubinsky said. “I think we made some steps in the right direction (against Chicago) and we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but we didn’t hang our heads. We came back (Monday) and found a way to get the job done and that’s just the way this team is going to play.

“As a hockey player and as a team, you can’t get too high or too low. When we wake up (Tuesday) it’s going to be business again, and we have to get ourselves prepared for a great team in Minnesota. It’s going to take the same effort. I don’t think we played a full 60 minutes, and it’s hard to do, but good teams find a way to play the full 60 or close to it.”

Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Damien Brunner #24 of the Detroit Red Wings battle for position on a loose puck in the first period on January 21, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The next item of business following a much-needed 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars comes just 24 hours later, as Columbus completes another back-to-back set of games tonight in Minnesota. A new-look Wild team with plenty of offensive firepower awaits the Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center, and for them to keep going on the right track, another committed defensive effort is required.

In their last two road games, the Blue Jackets struggled with allowing too many scoring chances to their opponents (Phoenix and Colorado), and particularly so off the rush. They got back to their aggressive checking game against Chicago and Dallas, limiting skilled players’ time with the puck and limiting their ability to make plays.

“That’s what we have to do – compete hard for 60 minutes and defend our asses off,” Dubinsky told “We had some blocked shots and some guys holding the puck in their zone. As much as that’s offense, that’s also defense and it forces them to come 200 feet. With the lead, we did that a lot and we held on to some pucks and made good decisions with pucks.

“We didn’t have turnovers and things like that costing us goals. That’s something we have to continue to grow from and keep getting better at and focusing on. For good teams in this league, teams that win…you have to play with the lead, play your game and stay patient.”

Dubinsky said part of maintaining patience is being dedicated to the process and starting each game with a clean slate. Especially in a condensed schedule, moving on from wins is equally as important as forgetting losses.

He wasn’t pleased with how the Blue Jackets started Monday’s game against the Stars, and said their first period in Minnesota has to better with the Wild sitting at home waiting for them to arrive.

“We got better as the game went on,” Dubinsky said. “It’s going to be important as we get better and continue to win games that we play a full 60 minutes, and that means the game starts at 7 o’clock. We have to be prepared for that and have good starts and good first periods. I think we will get better and continue to work on those things.

“It’s a blue collar mentality that’s going to win this team games and (Monday), we got the result. That’s the way we have to play.”

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