Journalists and broadcasters alike are junkies for statistics and streaks. They illustrate talking points, provide context, and fill up copy space and broadcast time alike. But in Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, a particular stat hung a phantom monkey on his back during the regular season.
Sportscasters, especially national ones, would trot out the same line each time Dumoulin touched the puck during a broadcast: “Dumoulin has not scored a regular season goal in X amount of games.”
Not counting his two goals during the Penguins’ 2015-16 Stanley Cup run, Dumoulin went 150 games without a goal until he netted one on April 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The goalless streak may have been a quirky nugget of trivia during the season, but it obscured that the 25 year old defenseman’s game has steadily matured over the course of the regular season. Coming off his first full season in 2015-16, Dumoulin continued to be an everyday presence in the lineup, save the few weeks he missed with a broken jaw.
Though he’s no Kris Letang or Justin Schultz in terms of offensive production, Dumoulin knows his role in the offense, which is important considering how many players ruin their games trying to fulfill a role they aren’t meant for.
He’s got the skating ability to get himself out of trouble when in his own end and pinch in when the team possesses the puck in the offensive zone. He’s not a puck-mover in the sense of Letang, who can go from blue line to blue line with his speed, but what Dumoulin does well is rope stretch passes to his wingers in the neutral done or carry the puck to his blue line before hitting the open man.
At 6’4 and 205 lb., he uses his frame to box out wingers who try to crash the net or set up for screens. While, he doesn’t deliver Dustin Byfuglien-level bodychecks, Dumoulin does well to body up wingers when they try to go wide on him.
Dependable is what Dumoulin gives the Penguins; it doesn’t get a d-man flashy accolades, but it’s absolutely critical to stabilizing a team’s back end. Thinking long-term, I think Dumoulin can be a lunchpail defenseman for the Penguins over the next decade.
As he develops, Dumoulin can assume a similar role to that of former Pens d-man Brooks Opik, who was a reliable partner during Kris Letting’s early years of frolicking around the ice. Dumoulin is the kind of player who can hold the line and get the puck off his stick to the forwards.
Like Nick Bonino, whose savvy and defensive instincts shores up and feeds into the games of his line mates, so to Dumoulin can use his game to augment that of his defensive partner and forwards.
Young defenseman like Dumoulin are an asset because they can be depended upon during even-strength play and on the power play or penalty kill. They eat up 18-20 minutes a game, and mind their p’s and q’s without giving the puck up trying to wheel and deal.
So the next time you hear about Dumoulin’s offensive production, just remember there’s more to a dependable d-man than goals and assists.
Author’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series of articles that will chart the progress I’m making on writing a short story. The story will be part of a larger Geneva College project in which students from Dr. Williams’s ENG 344 Publishing compile their short stories into a published collection for the campus. Check us out on Facebook under “Geneva Inklings.”
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.