When it came to low-producing Pittsburgh forwards earlier in the season, none received more negative criticism than Pascal Dupuis. The only exception, come to think of it, would be Chris Kunitz and his otherwise disappointing start to the season. However, when it was later revealed that he was playing with an abdominal strain, many fans fittingly backed off a bit.
Prior to the trade deadline, Dupuis played a significant part in mock trade offers. Package deals had him going off to who-knows-where in exchange for a draft pick or top-tier rental. Others suggested a depth move for, perhaps, a defenseman of sorts. But post-deadline Dupuis has been nothing short of stellar and as such, keeping with the nature of biting tongues and admitting defeat, I felt it was only right to give this grinder his dues.
After the jump, we show a lil love for Pascal Dupuis. And no, it's not just because he scored the only goal in the game last night. But it certainly helps.
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Pascal Dupuis has a set of wheels. It's what keeps him going out there and gives him a slight edge on the PK. It also doesn't hurt to have the footability (made up word?) to keep up with one Sidney Crosby. It is likely for this reason alone that Dupuis has, at times, found himself lined up with Crosby. We've joked in the past that if Dupuis had hands he'd score more often. In reality, when he's on the ice with Sid, all he has to do is put his blade on the ice. Crosby takes care of the rest.
And how bout that shot? It's...scary. Scary in a sense that he can really let it rip. Scary in another sense that it's intended target is insanely unpredictable at times. But it creates rebounds, gets the puck in the zone and, as we've seen a 18 times over this season, it finds the back of the net.
Duper has 18 goals so far this season, only two short of his career high of 20 set with the Wild back in 2003. It took Pascal seven games to score his first point of the season, an assist against the Hurricanes, but he quickly followed up with his first goal of the year against the Lightning on October 17. Since then there have been a few streaks of games in which Dupuis didn't register a single point. Or even a goal for that matter. Take for example December 15 through January 9 when he picked up only two assists over 13 games. But then on January 11 against his former Minnesota team, he nearly doubled his near-month point total with a 1g, 2a three-point effort.
March has been one hell of a month for Dupuis. 11 games, 5 goals, 3 assists and some good looks on net. This may often go as one of those underappreciated stats, but on March 4 against the Rangers, Dupuis launched 10 shots on net. 10. Some guys don't even see 10 shots a week.
I for one must admit that I was not happy with Dupuis's production earlier in the year. Frankly, I had him involved in some of those aforementioned hypothetical trades prior to the deadline. But as of late I couldn't be happier with his play and I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm glad I was wrong and I'm even happier to know he isn't playing out of his mind elsewhere.
Given the injury situation to Evgeni Malkin and the growing questions surrounding his general health as the Pens head into the playoffs, it's good knowing a guy like Dupuis is still churning out some points and putting in a solid effort game in and game out. While he doesn't necessarily stand as a replacement for Geno, some regularity doesn't hurt this time of year.