Tag Archives: Brian Dumoulin

Offseason Player Grades: Brian Dumoulin

Statistics (Regular Season)

70 GP , 1 G, 14 A, 15 PTS, +/- Even, 14 PIM

Statistics (Playoffs)

25 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, +9 +/-, 6 PIM

Player Grade: (A)

Brian Dumoulin stepped into a big role this season when his defensive partner, Kris Letang, underwent season ending surgery. Dumo earns an A in my book because of the way he stepped into a top defensive role, being charged with shutting down the other team’s top offense lines, especially during the playoffs.

Review

Dumoulin has proven to be a shutdown guy here in Pittsburgh. I don’t think anyone expects him to put up more than a handful of points per season. (Although I do see offensive talent in his game) Looking into some analytic stats on Dumo, if you break his numbers down, they’re in the top half of defensemen in the league. He quietly gets the job done each and every night, he’s not flashy, doesn’t have a cannon of a shot, or the top-level speed and skating, but at the end of the day he does what you want a top pairing, shutdown defenseman to do.

Preview

Dumoulin is a RFA this summer. I hope to see him sign a long-term deal to keep him in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. Next season, I fully expect him and Letang to be one of the NHL’s top pairs in the league. Again, I don’t expect him to put up a lot of points, but he provides that stable partner for Letang to be Letang.

Conclusion

Brian Dumoulin may be one of the most underrated defensemen in the league, but the numbers are there to prove that he is being over looked. Without a player of his caliber I don’t think the Pens repeat this year.

Unsung Heroes

Overtime, Game 7; these are the games as hockey fans we love. Thursday night, the Penguins defeated the Senators 3-2 in double overtime to clinch their bid to the Stanley Cup Finals vs the Nashville Predators. The game winning goal coming from 37-year-old Chris Kunitz, which was his second goal of the night. This entire playoff, and regular season has been filled with unsung heroes. Yes, we have the three-headed monster in Malkin, Crosby, and Kessel leading the way in playoff points. But there are a few guys pulling some of their own weight. Names that stand out are Jake Guentzel, Chris Kunitz, Bryan Rust, Olli Maatta, and Brian Dumoulin.

 

Jake Guentzel- 2016-17 Regular Season– 40 GP | 16 G | 17 A       2016-17 Playoffs– 19 GP | 9 G | 7 A

What an amazing rookie campaign Jake has put together. Those who watched Jake play in WBS before being called up knew the type of impact he could have in the NHL, and what an impact he has made. Some may ask why he made this list of surprise players these playoffs, but I don’t think anyone expected a player with 40 NHL games to be in the top 5 of playoff scoring. Not to mention 3 GWG this postseason.

Image result for jake guentzel playoffs

Chris Kunitz- 2016-17 Regular Season- 71 GP | 9 G | 20 A |         2016-17 Playoffs- 14 GP| 2 G| 3 A |     

Chris Kunitz, what a guy. This is a player that Penguins fans have wanted to be dealt out of town for the last three years at least, and I am guilty of criticizing him as well. But with Kuntiz you know what type of player you are going to get. He’s the type of guy to battle in front of the net, finish his checks, and hey, even score goals when reunited with Crosby. Kuntiz has scored the most important goal of these playoffs so far (2OT ECF) so how could he not be a hero?

Image result for chris kunitz goal

Bryan Rust- 2016-17 Regular Season- 40 GP | 12 G | 4 A |            2016-17 Playoffs- 17 GP | 6 A | 1 A |

Rust is a player that really emerged last season when the Pens were faced with injuries and he made a similar impact that Guentzel is making this year. Rust is another guy that will finish his hit and grind in front of the net, but also comes up with some very timely goals. This post season, Rust has 2 GWG those goals being Game 5 vs CBJ, and game 7 vs Washington. Rust plays big in big games, so keep an eye out for him the Stanley Cup Finals.

Image result for bryan rust playoffs

Olli Maatta2016-17 Regular Season- 55 GP| 1 G | 6 A |              2016-17 Playoffs19 GP | 2 G | 5 A |

Maatta has been criticized time and time again, and granted he has not been the player the Penguins expected, he has held his own. Some unfortunate injuries have slowed Maatta’s growth, but minor things such as foot speed seem to be an issue for him. To Maatta’s credit he has played well this season, especially vs the Sens. Scoring two goals in as many games, and one being a GWG in the 7-0 victory, Maatta seems to be finding his way as of late.

 Image result for olli maatta 2017

Honorable Mention: Brian Dumoulin- Dumo gets my honorable mention for this list. Next to Ian Cole, he may be the best defensive defenseman the Pens have. Logging 20+ minutes in almost every playoff game, he is faced with the task of shutting down teams’ top offensive lines. He is a valuable player to this Pens roster that often goes under the radar.

Image result for brian dumoulin playoff

This Penguins team is filled with superstars as we all know, but there are a ton of depth/role players that are just as important as Crosby or Malkin are. Role players play a key part in winning teams, and the Penguins have built their team using high end role guys. They played a huge part in the 2016 Stanley Cup Run, and will again be a key factor in the 2017 Stanley Cup run.

Player Safety Certainly An Issue

Sidney Crosby is on fire. The haters are running out of ideas so they’ve recycled the statement that Crosby is protected by the league. I already debunked that with video evidence on this site earlier this season, but Sid isn’t the only one the NHL is failing this year.

Boarding in my opinion has become the penaltie du jour among hitters who don’t want to get dinged for a straight head shot. The idea is to hit them in the back or waist and let the dasher do the rest.  The latest major example happens to be on the alleged bubble boy himself, Sidney Crosby.

In Tampa Bay last week defenceman Luke Witkowski was a little overzealous on our captain, giving him a helpful shove head first into the advertisements. No call came from Player Safety and no   penalty was given at ice level.

Video: SPORTSNETCANADA

For those about to accuse me of begging for a suspension every time Sid gets touched, keep calm and go to a Capitals blog. I’m not surprised or even upset there was no look by Player Safety. What concerns me most is the acceptability of plays like this.

This is not on the on ice officials either. In most cases at ice level the  force and impact of the push in the moment aren’t more than a minor. There’s no thought of intent, and it’s just a hockey play. Players just don’t know any better.

But like head shots, the NHL needs to step in and say enough is enough. It’s getting to be too much. With their own penal system they can send the message that just because this is a minor penalty, it can have major repercussions (i.e. a  broken neck and back like happened in the AHL and the KHL). The decision to push in the first place is the problem, not the actual push.

This has nothing to do with Sidney Crosby. There were two more major boarding incidents last night, including Brian Dumoulin getting rammed. People have spent their day crying over a Kris Letang phantoms elbow head shot and don’t even bat an eye about that boarding penalty to a defenceless player.

The league doesn’t protect Sidney Crosby personally and they’ve proven that. But what happens to Crosby and other superstars is a product of the culture the League has promoted, and for some reason the fans have accepted it.

 

Recap: Islanders 5, Penguins 3

The score says a lot. It just wasn’t the Penguins’ game Wednesday night from puck drop to their furious third period comeback.

This game featured the same Penguins team I’ve come to see a lot this year: an inconsistent one.

After a late first period goal by the Islanders and two more in possibly the worst second period this team has played this year, the Penguins capatlized on Thomas Greiss’ third period struggles and tied the game at three. With 26 seconds left, Anders Lee tipped a shot home standing right infront of Matt Murray for the game winning goal. Nikolai Kulemin added the empty net dagger.

Three Impressions:

  • Matt Murray was a bit off. He made the incredible save on John Tavares and a couple other scrambling saves but let in soft goals including the third goal. It wasn’t his fault that Justin Schultz kicked it towards Murray who unconsciously knocked it in…but Murray gave up a soft rebound, albeit something he hasn’t done much. Murray was as up and down as this Penguins team was.
  • Sidney Crosby is the most dominant player in the NHL right now and it’s not even close. His play to drive the tying Evgeni Malkin goal was something that not many can do. It was an effort and skill defensive play from his knees and he somehow found defenseman Brian Dumoulin who gave it to Geno for the goal. There is no one that I’d take over Sid right now. He’s not even the highest paid player in the NHL currently.
  • Poor John Tavares. This man is a top five NHL talent playing on a horrible team. You could see it in his body language that he’s frustrated. At times, he’s called himself out even though he’s got 17 points in 22 games. What is the captain supposed to do? Pin blame on the rest of his teammates? No, he’ll say the right things about himself needing to “step up” to an even more elite level. Tavares is going to find himself a nice free agent contract waiting for him in two years.

Next Game: Thursday vs. Detroit

Pride, Passion, Pittsburgh…Penguins?

For those of you who love Pittsburgh’s baseball team, I apologize. This phrase doesn’t really apply to your team anymore. This really applies to Pittsburgh’s hockey team. The one at the ‘Paint Can’ on 1001 Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh.

In a game where all hope seemed further than than the distance between California and Pennsylvania, a few players poked there heads out and did some big things when their team needed them the most.

Scott Wilson took a puck that bounced away from a hit in the corner and scored. It looks as though Chris Kunitz may have pushed home a shot that rang off the post. The hitter and shooter off the post happened to be Patric Hornqvist.

Hornqvist just had one of his patented games tonight. He actually dumped the puck in on the play where he hit Brendan Dillon in the corner and then forced Braun to turn it over right onto Wilson’s stick for a goal. He pounced on a rebound with his net front presence and banged it off the post. He was given credit for the goal but upon second look, Kunitz may have finished it into the net.

Horny was in front of the net making Martin Jones’ night as hard as he possibly could. When Jones had a puck slide under his pad in the third, Hornqvist went in hit and shoved and shoved hoping he’d lodge the puck over the goal line. It didnt work, but he showed the heart and hustle. That’s what Patric Hornqvist does. That’s what Patric Hornqvist brings. Tenacity.

That’s just one man. There are four guys who deserve the spotlight tonight.

“No pressure.”

Those were the words uttered by Mike Sullivan to the four defenseman on the Pens roster for the night who were healthy enough to go back out for the third period. Those four defenseman include: Brian Dumoulin, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, and Justin Schultz.

With Kris Letang already out for tonight, Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot, playing in his first game since only playing 34 games last season, both went down with injury. This left the four aforementioned names to be left out to die in the third.

Except, the Penguins turned a two goal second period deficit into a 3-2 victory. This happened with FOUR defenseman. Incredible stuff.

Run it by me and I’ll tell you that’s some pride. That’s some passion. Without Letang and captain Sidney Crosby, the Penguins lead an impressive comeback on the Sharks further proving that their victory last year was just that. A simple, overmatching victory.

The Sharks peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with 34 shots tonight. He only cracked on two occasions. Martin Jones was very stellar and then an inspired third period happened. The Pittsburgh hockey team lit him up for three goals in that period.

“We can win them ugly,” Ian Cole said after the game to reporters around his stall. That you did, my friend.

So the next time the Pirates try to shove that “Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.” slogan down your throat, just know that it’s really the Penguins who exemplify that.

2016 Penguins Preview: Defenseman

I feel it. You can feel it. The electricity is in the air from the Pittsburgh Penguins’ transition into the upcoming title defense season. How can you defend a Cup without you’re defense?

It’s nearly impossible to retain a whole defensive core for consecutive seasons without players seeking a raise in pay with another team. It’s even harder to return the entire defensive core after a Stanley Cup victory. The Penguins did that, minus Ben Lovejoy as he signed with Ray Shero in New Jersey.

Returning a core as good as this one takes commitment. Justin Schultz is committed. Either he really wanted to play for another chance at a Stanley Cup or he just didn’t recieve any offers out on the open market because the Pens got him on a cheap deal. Otherwise, this staff is ready and committed to being just as good this upcoming season.

Kris Letang: 71 GP, 16 G, 51 A, 67 PTS


Letang will head into 2016-2017 as the unquestioned leader of the defense. Not that he wasn’t before, but his start to last season indicated he may not be any longer.

After being paired with Ian Cole, Letang suffered through a two and a half month stretch of misery before finally finding a rhythm within the Penguins offense.

He found success with Trevor Daley throughout the season until Daley went down right before the playoffs. Then he got to play with Brian Dumoulin down the stretch. The two never looked back, both scoring goals in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins won the Cup that game.

A healthy Letang has the possibility to be a legitimate contender for the Norris Trophy if he plays well the entire season. Last year, half a season wasn’t going to win him the award. The Penguins are in good hands with this guy on defense.

Olli Maatta: 67 GP, 6 G, 13 A, 19 PTS


The young Finnish defenseman who has been through a tumultuous beginning to his career, including cancer and surgery, was rewarded a six year deal to stick around and hopefully become Letang’s long term partner.

If this pairing comes into fruition, it could be one of the hardest to defend in the league. The only problem would be Maatta’s foot speed. After inconsistent playing time, Maatta could never get his feet underneath of him.

He finally started to get hot towards the end of the Tampa Bat series and heading into the Cup finals against San Jose.

I like the young kid’s composure and I think he can thrive if he plays with Letang. I expect to see a ton of Maatta this year and I can foresee a much better season out of Olli Maatta.

Brian Dumoulin: 79 GP, 0 G, 16 A, 16 PTS


This man is my favorite Penguin. It’s been documented before and will continue to be documented that I love him and he’s the most under appreciated Penguin on the squad.

The least offensive threat across the NHL has a puck moving presence. He by no means is faster than his matchup on the ice, but is incredible at keeping people to the outside and not being beat.

His defense is his strength. He matches opponents speed and is rarely caught out of position. I could count the turnovers from him last season on one hand and he got to play with Kris Letang during the Cup final after the Trevor Daley injury.

He scores two goals in the playoffs last season. One against Washington in a crucial game and one in the clincher against the San Jose Sharks.

This season, fans will appreciate Dumo more and watch him become a shut down defenseman. Remember, Paul Martin was originally known for being a sound defenseman in season one but became an offensive threat after that season. They’re two different types of players, but you never know.

Trevor Daley: 53 GP, 6 G, 16 A, 22 PTS (with Penguins)


What a great trade that made absolutely no sense! Who trades Rob Scuderi for anything more than a bag of pucks and an eighth round pick? (yes, I’m aware there isn’t one, it’s my poor sense of humor).

Daley came onto the scene and played some great hockey. It’s unfortunate that he went down with an injury right before the Cup Finals rolled around but he’ll be more than ready to jump into action opening night.

Daley likely will play again with Dumoulin. The Penguins have every intention of getting Olli Maatta to the point where he can play with Kris Letang and do it well so expect this amazing pairing from last season to stick around.

Can you think of a better trade in recent memory? The David Perron one comes to mind, but nothing helped a very teetering defense more than trading an old, no longer serviceable defenseman for a puck moving defenseman with some foot speed to fit the scheme head coach Mike Sullivan put into place.

Ian Cole: 70 GP, 0 G, 12 A, 12 PTS


Before I get talking about Ian Cole, how beautiful are those jerseys?

Anyway, Cole started out last season terribly with Kris Letang. I mean bad. He eventually sat a couple games and come back around about mid way through the season.

Cole didn’t score a single goal in the regular season either but he was a very good Defensive defenseman once playoff time came around.

If Cole can replicate his second half play from last season, there’s no reason he can’t keep his spot in the lineup.

Justin Schultz: 18 GP, 1 G, 7 A, 8 PTS (with Penguins)


I like the fact that Justin Schultz was given up for a third round draft selection that was reacquired when they got rid of an excess player in Beau Bennett.

Schultz wasn’t exactly an offensive protegé when he got here but he had Norris Trophy potential coming into the league. Unfortunately, being an Edmonton Oilers defenseman is something not too many people would do by choice.

He can be an offensive threat for sure as his career high in goals is 11 for Edmonton. He had 1 goal in 18 regular season games for Pittsburgh so if he gets a consistent chance to play as a top-6 defenseman, expect that production to be higher this season.

Derrick Pouliot: 22 GP, 0 G, 7 A, 7 PTS


And finally, the interesting case of Derrick Pouliot, as I wrote about him about a week ago, is something that will be fun to monitor.

I suspect you’ll get to see more of him this year but Jim Rutherford has really given some mixed signals about his plans for number 51.

Many believe that he continues to endorse Pouliot because of his struggles and how they can boost his trade value. But if you’ve seen pictures, Pouliot looks like an entirely different person.

He’s much skinnier and has cut his long hair. Could a changed physical appearance give him the opportunity to change his on-ice performance? Only time will be able to tell.

Schultz Signing Bolsters Penguins Defense

A deal that many people saw as improbable, the Penguins resigned Justin Schultz to a one year, $1.4 million contract. With veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy leaving the Penguins in free agency, there was still a need for another defenseman. Derrick Pouliot can be a future top pairing defenseman, but this Penguins team is in a win now mode. That is why signing Schultz is critical to the Penguins success.

Many people thought Jim Rutherford was crazy when he said there was a chance to sign both Cullen and Schultz. I especially thought that it would be impossible to sign either, but with this contract to Schultz, there is still a small amount of room left for a Cullen return. (Rule 1: Never doubt Jim Rutherford). 

This signing almost surely solidifies the Penguins defense. Schultz should be an everyday defenseman now come October, and given the need for right handed defenseman, Schultz should fit into a role similar to Ben Lovejoy. As of now, this is how the Penguins defense looks:

Maatta- Letang

Dumoulin- Daley

Cole- Schultz

Pouliot- Warsofsky 

That is an amazing defense just too look at. Derrick Pouliot was an 8th overall pick in 2012, and a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Jim Rutherford would be smart to keep Pouliot at the lower end of the totem pole this season in order to pay him less at the end of his contract. While it may not be best to keep him in the press box every night, it helps everyone fit under the salary cap. Pouliot will see NHL time this season, because if you know the Penguins at all, he will surely come in as an injury replacement.

Pouliot was also very inconsistent in his play. He began the season in the AHL after a very poor preseason and it took him over half the season to make it back in the NHL. When he did play, there were two types of Derrick. He either dominated possession stats or brought the team down. That level of inconsistency is not what the Penguins need right now, especially for a team looking to repeat a Stanley Cup championship. Maybe Pouliot will pick up his play, but adding Schultz gives the Penguins more stability.

Signing Schultz for cheap also means that he can be qualified for a lower amount of money. At the end of this upcoming season, Schultz will be 26 and still a restricted free agent. Under the current CBA, the Penguins will still hold possession of Schultz after this season, being able to retain his rights for another season after this year. With this contract, I’d expect to see Schulz for at least another two seasons.

When Schultz signed with the Edmonton Oilers, he was expected to be their top defenseman. Right out of the gate he was given 25 minutes a night, with some even calling him a future Norris Trophy winner. Things never panned out that way for him and his play suffered. Media scrutinized Schultz to no end and fans were ecstatic to see him leave. Once arriving in Pittsburgh, though he was slightly sheltered, Schultz was relieved of the pressure and able to focus on just playing. He did just that, and in return, helped guide the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.