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Dubinsky sets his sights much higher

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Callahan and Dubinsky Look Back on 2009-10 Watch

By Jim Cerny,

The 2009-10 season was as much about perseverance for Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky as it was about career-best statistics.

While the popular Dubinsky established career highs in goals (20), points (44), power play goals (6), shorthanded goals (2), and plus/minus (plus-9), he also was forced to deal with the first injury of his National Hockey League career as well as a midseason shift from center to left wing.

Brandon Dubinsky had much to celebrate during the first 20-goal season of his NHL career, but his head coach, John Tortorella,  says more will be expected of the 24-year-old when he hits the ice next season.
“I think every year that you improve and get better is a step in the right direction, and I feel like I did that this year,” said Dubinsky, who turned 24 last week.

Despite missing 13 games due to a broken hand suffered in Calgary on Nov. 7, Dubinsky tied for second on the Rangers in goals scored, was the club’s fourth-leading scorer, and led the team with five game-winning goals.

In further showing his importance to the club, the Rangers posted a 12-1-4 record in games that Dubinsky scored a goal.

Still, the Anchorage, Alaska, native is aware that his game is far from complete, and for the Rangers to have better success next season, he needs to raise his level of play and consistency.

“I need to find a way to be more consistent and not go through some streaks of great play and streaks of not so great play,” said Dubinsky. “That’s something that is important to me and something I have to think about and try and cure for next year.”

After recording four points in the first two games of the season, Dubinsky’s offensive production slowed before his injury. Even though his goal-less streak reached 14 games upon returning to the lineup in mid-December, Dubinsky soon found his groove again, buoyed by two-goal games against the Islanders on Dec. 26 and the Canadiens on Jan. 17.

Dubinsky finished the season in strong fashion, playing on the left side of Erik Christensen and Marian Gaborik. Over the final 12 games, in which he recorded points in all but four of those matches, Dubinsky posted four goals, five assists, and nine points. He reached 20 goals for the first time at the NHL level with an important score in the next-to-last game of the season, the crucial 4-3 win over the Flyers at Madison Square Garden on April 9.

“Dubi is a huge part of what we do here,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “I like his grit. I like his passion. But we need more. He needs to give us more moving forward.”

Dubinsky played in all 82 games each of his first two seasons in the NHL before being limited to 69 this year. He had also played nearly all of his minutes at center, the position he was drafted at by the Rangers in the second round back in 2004.

However in trying to find the best mix amongst his forwards, Tortorella moved Dubinsky to left wing for the first extended period of his career in the second half of the season. Dubinsky responded well, playing a strong game along the boards, aggressively taking part in the forecheck, and producing offensively.

“It’s a little bit less of a thinking position, so it’s a bit easier to get used to,” Dubinsky said of playing left wing. “Now I feel like I am comfortable at both positions, and it’s nice to have that flexibility.”

Whether he plays center or the wing, Dubinsky is set to play a key role for Team USA at the upcoming World Championships in Germany. He will be joined on the United States squad by Rangers teammate Matt Gilroy and 2009 Blueshirts first-round draft pick Chris Kreider of Boston College.

And Tortorella has already pointed out that Dubinsky is an important part of the Rangers young core moving forward, joining the likes of Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Artem Anisimov, and others as the foundation of the franchise. It is a responsibility he relishes.

“I love being a New York Ranger, there’s nothing better, and I want to be able to make a difference for this organization,” said Dubinsky. “I am really looking forward to getting us back on track next season.”
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