Things were different for Pierre-Luc Dubois in his second year than his first.
First of all, he was better. He went from 20 goals, 28 assists and 48 points as in his initial season to 27 goals, 34 helpers and 61 total points. He also went from a wide-eyed rookie to a depended-upon member of the locker room, someone who was tasked with playing No. 1 center minutes on the top line with Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson for most of the season.
Video: PLD talks about his focus for the summer
"Obviously, it's a big difference from the first year," he said. "I think I learned a lot this year, too. It's not easy being consistent. It takes a lot of concentration, a lot of experience. Some guys, they get consistent in their fifth, sixth year but I have to be more consistent and I think it starts next year. I learned a lot the last two years and now I have to apply everything I learned."
Dubois is right. Not all players are tasked with being integral parts of their team's lineup at 20 years old, but to whom much is given, much is expected. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Dubois was thought of as a potential standout by the Blue Jackets, and he's done little to dissuade that notion in his first two seasons in Columbus.
But to get to the level the team thinks he can reach -- and the level he wants to be at -- he must work on being the same player each night. In other words, the 17-game span down the stretch in which he had a single goal and two assists is the kind of thing he has to eliminate going forward.
"I just think it's experience. It's just a mind-set," he said of how he can add consistency to his game. "My first year, everything's new. And like this year I kind of know everything but to consistently apply it, it takes a mind-set. It takes an approach to be consistent every night, every practice, and I learned a lot from the guys in the dressing room, from the older guys, from the guys who have been doing it on a consistent basis for the past eight, 10 years, whatever."
Video: TBL@CBJ, Gm4: Dubois backhands puck past Vasilevskiy
The tools are certainly there. Dubois' size and strength can't be taught, as he stands 6-3, is well over 200 pounds and has a knack for winning battles along the boards even when going up against two players. Once he does get the puck, he has great acceleration out of the corners, plus plenty of skill as evidenced by his 47 goals over his first two seasons.
With numbers like that, Dubois is making a name for himself in the NHL. Just ask the players he suits up against, who have quickly come to realize he's a package of size and skill unlike many in the league.
"The first year guys telling are you, 'I don't know who you are,'" Dubois said. "I got a lot less of that this year."