clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How concerned should we be about Brian Dumoulin’s play?

He had a rough game on Monday night in Edmonton.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Overall there is a lot to like about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ start to the 2022-23 season.

They are 4-1-1, have had a balanced attack offensively, and some of the new additions on defense have looked like very strong upgrades.

Monday’s 6-3 loss in Edmonton, however, was not one of the higher points, especially the second and third periods as they let a 3-1 lead turn into an ugly 6-3 loss in what was easily their worst showing of the young season so far. They spent the final two periods chasing the game, getting outplayed, outworked, and just flat out dominated. It was the first time all season they truly looked bad for an extended period of time.

At the center of that meltdown were some struggles from veteran defenseman Brian Dumoulin, and the numbers were not kind to him at all. He was on the ice for three 5-on-5 goals against, seemed to have a hand in at least a couple of them, while the Penguins were badly outshot and outchanced when he was on the ice.

Through the first six games his overall on-ice numbers and defensive impacts have been mostly poor, and it is coming off what was probably the worst season of his career in 2021-22.

Heading into Tuesday’s game there have been 180 defenseman across the NHL that have logged at least 50 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time.

Here is where Dumoulin ranks in some key defensive categories (via Natural Stat Trick):

Shot attempts against per 60: 170th
Shot attempt share: 152nd
Goals against per 60: 84th
Expected goals against per 60: 46thIt’s
Scoring chances against per 60: 142nd
Scoring chance share: 137th

It is not great, and the eye-test has not been much better.

As a pairing, the Kris Letang-Dumoulin pairing in general has posted the weakest numbers of the three defense pairings, which is a very new development given how consistently good they have been for the past six-plus years. They are routinely been one of the league’s most productive defense pairings.

And while we are still talking about extremely small sample sizes at this point in the season, Letang’s numbers have been better away from Dumoulin while Dumoulin’s numbers have plummeted even more without Letang next to him.

On one hand, Dumoulin has been one of the steadiest players on the team for close to a decade now and has been a key piece of a core that has won multiple championships. For as much as he struggled at times last year, and especially in the second half, you wanted to at least give him the benefit of the doubt because he was not fully healthy all year and that maybe a fresh start would help him get back on track.

But there is also the harsh reality that he is now into his age 31 season and at some point is going to start slowing down. Perhaps significantly. Are we at that point? And is it a point that it becomes a problem?

It’s been six games, and only a handful of them have been concerning, but it is at least something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. If this early trend does not reverse itself in a meaningful way it might become a problem that needs to be addressed.

One thing should be clear though: There should be no rush to extend his contract beyond this season at this point. I had zero problem with the Penguins’ willingness to spend big on keeping Evgeni Malkin, Letang, and even Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell because they were not only getting them on good deals, all four of them are still strong players that are going to produce in a big way while there were not many good alternatives to replace them.

Dumoulin, for as great as he has been, might be at the point where better options are going to exist, and perhaps for even a better deal this offseason. Especially after the contracts we saw for players like Ben Chiarot and Erik Gudbranson on the open market.

So with all of that said, let’s talk about it.

What is your level of concern with Brian Dumoulin right now?


What is your level of concern with Brian Dumoulin right now?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Just a couple of bad games, no concern at all
    (43 votes)
  • 42%
    Slightly concerned, but I think he can bounce back
    (391 votes)
  • 53%
    He is no longer good and it is going to be a problem
    (492 votes)
926 votes total Vote Now