Other than perhaps driving the Zamboni between periods, there isn't much Brandon Dubinsky
hasn't done for the New York Rangers
With the team in need of a sniper in the early part of the season when Marian Gaborik
was out with a separated shoulder, Dubinsky filled the net on a regular basis -- and leads the team with 14 goals.
He's also been one of the Rangers' top set-up men, with his 13 assists leaving him tied for second, one behind Dan Girardi
. His 27 points place him four ahead of Ryan Callahan
for the team scoring lead.
When the Blueshirts have needed a little toughness on the ice, the job hasn't fallen solely to the guys thought of as "enforcers" -- players like Derek Boogaard
, Brandon Prust
and Sean Avery
Dubinsky has stepped up when games get physical, as his 40 penalty minutes -- fourth on the Rangers -- can attest. The most memorable five came this past Sunday when he dropped the gloves against the Washington Capitals
. His opponent? None other than Alex Ovechkin
, who had dropped Girardi with a heavy hit moments earlier.
"I really respect the way he plays and how hard he is and obviously the skill level he has," Dubinsky said of the two-time Hart and Rocket Richard Trophy winner. "But at the same time I turn around and see one of my teammates on the ice so I'm going to try and protect him. He is a competitor, and it was a good battle."
Dubinsky had already scored a goal prior to the fight and he later assisted on a Callahan goal in the Rangers' 7-0 rout of the Capitals, giving him the famed "Gordie Howe
A second-round pick by the Rangers in the 2004 Entry Draft, Dubinsky got his first taste of the NHL with six games during the 2006-07 season and was back with the big club for good the following season. He produced at least 40 points in each of his first three full seasons, including career highs of 20 goals and 44 points last season.
"Every player knows they were a top talent and one of the more elite players growing up," Dubinsky said recently in an article published in the Wall Street Journal. "But as you get here, you learn there's only a few guys that separate themselves and are able to be those guys [who rely on talent] here. The rest of those guys need to make sure we're getting it done with the work ethic."
Thanks to his work ethic and his toughness, Dubinsky has gotten better each season and made his team better as a result.
"He's been good, and it's huge for him and for the team," Gaborik said in the Wall Street Journal. "It's important that we'll have more lines that can score so the other team has to pay attention to more guys."