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Dupuis Fills Many Roles

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Top-line left winger. Ace penalty killer. Shutdown specialist on the checking lines.


The above roles are just a few of the duties performed by Pascal Dupuis since arriving from Atlanta on Feb. 26, 2008. Currently back at left wing on a trio with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko, it is safe to say that Dupuis has performed many job titles during his two-plus seasons with the Penguins.

Dupuis believes his simple, never-changing approach to the game is what allows head coach Dan Bylsma to constantly shuffle him around the lineup, particularly when they had to compensate for the Penguins’ myriad of injuries during the month of November.

“You can’t change your game,” Dupuis said. “I think that’s why I am getting put anywhere. I don’t change my game. What I bring to the table I will bring it to any line.

“I will add speed and I will add puck pursuit. I will be aware defensively, too.”

Dupuis has some of the quickest wheels on the team, which helps enable him to do what a large number of players cannot – keep up with the high-flying Sidney Crosby and Malkin.

“He is a guy that can generate a lot of different things with his speed,” Crosby said. “He is a guy that can keep up with anyone. His speed and his shot are his strengths and he can use them in any role.”

With a combination of being able to provide secondary scoring in addition to his well-earned reputation for playing sound defensive hockey, Dupuis is perfect for his current role alongside Malkin and Fedotenko.

“If they put me with Geno and Feds, like they have right now, I still have it in the back of my head that Geno is a great player and great players take chances offensively,” Dupuis said. “I know that I may have to be the third-guy (high) quite a bit. I might have to be the one backchecking. I have might have to be the first guy back in our zone playing defense.”

He says that such a mentality grew from his time spent laboring on checking lines throughout the league where his job description relied more on preventing the other team’s top players from finding the scoresheet than it did seeing his own name there, as well as the fine work he has done throughout his career on the penalty kill.

One of the more talkative members of the team, Dupuis combines strong vocals along with his speed and stick work to serve as one of the Penguins’ top penalty killers. He and Craig Adams, his partner when the Penguins go down a man, have been able to form great chemistry together.

“He and I have developed a pretty good understanding with each other,” Adams said. “He talks a lot on the ice and lets me know what’s going on. I try to do that for him. That helps a lot on the PK if you know what you are doing.”

Dupuis takes his penalty-killing chores seriously because he realizes the importance such a role takes on with the small disparity in talent level between teams around the league thanks to the salary cap.

“Right now there are so many penalties in the NHL that if you play good on the power play and the penalty kill you are giving your team a good chance to win hockey games,” Dupuis said.

Another reason Dupuis has been able to float seamlessly from line to line is his penchant for being able to effectively play either wing, something many in the National Hockey League are incapable of doing.

During his first year with the Minnesota Wild in 2001-02, he played left wing on a line with superstar Marian Gaborik, who felt more comfortable on the right side. Dupuis spent most of the rest of his Wild career on the right wing before heading back over to the left side during his two seasons with Atlanta.

“I don’t know what it is,” Dupuis said. “It is just something where I can play both sides. I can actually catch a pass on my backhand.”

While the Penguins never doubted what they would receive from Dupuis in terms of a defensive and penalty-killing presence, they have to be plenty pleased with the offensive production the 30-year-old has given them through the first couple months of the season.

A 20-goal scorer for the Wild in ’02-03, Dupuis has proven that Penguins can fly, as he has done so out of the gate with seven goals through the first 31 games, a pace which would give him 19 tallies over the course of an entire season, the second-best total of his career.
“I am confident right now. I know the more shots I can get on net, the more goals I will get. You don’t score if you don’t shoot.” - Pascal Dupuis

With projected top-six forwards Max Talbot (21 games) and Chris Kunitz (12 games and counting) each missing the better part of the season, it has been Dupuis who has stepped to the plate and made up for their absence. His seven goals tie with Bill Guerin and ranks fourth (tied) on the squad.

When asked why his numbers have increased Dupuis credited two changes – a greater confidence to shoot the puck and a different model stick he began using this year.

“I am confident right now. I know the more shots I can get on net, the more goals I will get. You don’t score if you don’t shoot.”

Dupuis has certainly been practicing what he preaches. With 64 shots through 31 games he is on pace to register 169 over the course of the season, which would be the most pucks he has thrown on net since firing a career-high 183 shots in ’02-03.

The change in sticks is a huge reason why Dupuis has hit the net with more regularity thus far.

“I have changed my stick a little bit,” Dupuis said. “I changed by curve and the lie on my stick. Maybe that has something to do with it.

“I closed my blade a little bit and I went for a higher lie. Instead of being down a bit I am a little higher.”

Dupuis has always possessed a powerful slap shot, but using his newer model has helped the velocity on his wrist shot.

“The way I skate, this allows me to be a little quicker on a wrist shot,” he said. “It is the same thing with my slap shot but with the wrist shot, I can let it go way quicker.”

Dupuis’ head coach has certainly noticed the adjustments he had made in his game.

“Pascal’s chosen to come in and work hard and work hard in practice,” Bylsma said. “Now in the games he’s starting to go in there with his speed and his shooting ability, starting to go into traffic areas, on the forecheck when the puck’s there, going to the net.

“It’s paying off for him and his effectiveness on the ice and dividends on the scoresheet as well.”











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