is a veteran that’s been around for years, as this is his 10th season in the NHL. And with a lot of energy, passion and leadership, it’s turned out to be his best one.
With a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 5-2 win over New Jersey at CONSOL Energy Center, Dupuis extended his point streak to a career-high 10 games – the longest active point streak in the NHL. The 32-year-old winger has eight goals and five assists in that span.
Dupuis now has 23 goals and 50 points this season, establishing another new personal best for the forward – breaking his previous high of 48 set nine years ago with the Minnesota Wild in 2002-03.
“It’s always fun to be part of the offense,” he said. “But you know what, it’s a team effort. Right now, they’re going in for me. But the team is winning games, so that’s the most important thing.”
Dupuis is one of the Penguins’ best two-way forwards, using his blazing speed to be the first one in on both the backcheck and forecheck and to thrive on one of the NHL’s best penalty killing units. That alone makes his point output impressive, as he rarely sees any power-play time during games. In fact, Dupuis has gotten exactly one of his 50 points (an assist) with the man-advantage.
The other 49 have come either even strength or shorthanded.
“The numbers that I’m putting up, I’m happy I’m scoring that way,” Dupuis said. “I pride myself on being a guy that brings energy, that brings passion, that brings leadership. They’re going in, so I’ll obviously take them. But it’s a team game. Right now, they’re going in for me. They’re going in for a couple guys on our team. We’re scoring a lot of goals. It makes for our team to be successful.”
While Dupuis deflected most of the credit for his success to his teammates, he did say he’s been trying to utilize his powerful shot more often.
He’s already set a career high in that category with 196 (his previous one was 183, in 2002-03), and that willingness to tee off the puck as quickly as possible is what netted his goal at the 15:34 mark of the second period – which would prove to be the game-winner, his eighth such goal of the season.
“I’m trying to shoot the puck a little more this year,” Dupuis said. “They’re going in right now. The goal tonight was a result of Craig Adams
shooting for a rebound and it came back up front. I was Johnny on the spot right there, tapped it home.”
Since Dupuis was acquired by the Penguins at the trade deadline in 2008-09, the versatile winger just keeps getting better each season – and it’s not something that’s gone unnoticed by head coach Dan Bylsma.
“When I came in, he moved down the lineup. Sometimes to the fourth line in the playoffs and sometimes out of the lineup as a scratch,” Bylsma explained. “Pascal was one of the guys coming back from the Stanley Cup year where he was a motivated guy. He was coming in real focused, real motivated and had maybe one of his best summers. He had a spot in our lineup, but I didn’t know where that was. He had a great year in 2009-10. Really stepped it up and really played strong.
“He’s done an unbelievable job the last few years of really being an effective player for our group and has turned himself into a leader in how we play. It’s rewarding to see him get goals. Rewarding to see him score points.”
Dupuis’ friend and teammate Matt Cooke
joked after last week’s game against Nashville how the two forwards were pushing each other to keep scoring and strive for career highs.
When asked after Sunday’s game if he thought Cooke (20 goals) could catch him, Dupuis responded, “Yeah, hopefully he will. That’s more goals for the team. That’s the way we win hockey games.”
But then Dupuis added with a smile, “I’m going to keep going, though. Hopefully.”