Location, confidence boost Dupuis' offense - 09-10-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Growing up in Quebec, Pascal Dupuis was a fan of Nordiques All-Star sniper Michel Goulet. A three-time 50-goal scorer, Goulet was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998.

No one will ever confuse Dupuis with his idol considering his career-best in goals are the 25 he put up in 2011-12. That said after back-to-back, 20-goal campaigns, Dupuis has emerged as a legitimate top-six scoring winger and as a result, he was rewarded with a four-year contract extension this past offseason.

After an informal workout yesterday at Consol Energy Center, Dupuis talked about his surge in offense the past two seasons.

What's different about your shot compared to your first few seasons in Pittsburgh to the last two seasons?

"I think the way I approach the game. I get closer to the net. Instead of taking a slapper coming down at the blue line, I try to get deeper with [the puck]. Sometimes, you just shoot for a rebound and it hit something and goes in too."

It seemed like during your first seasons in Pittsburgh, you would just put a slap shot on net and goaltenders made fairly easy saves. Now, more shots are going in for you. Is it just a matter of location on your shot?

"Probably location. The more you work on it and you see how these guys work on it – [Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz], guys that really shoot it – you look at what they’re doing and what makes them successful and you try to bring that to their game."

A lot of people would just suggest anyone could score playing on a line with Crosby...

"It certainly helps [playing with Crosby]. I’m not going to say it’s not a big part of it. But when you play with good players, you get success. With success, confidence comes after that. Now, I’m playing with confidence. It’s a result of playing with good players but at the same time, you have to take care of your chances too."

How much does this team's aggressive system aid your production?

"I think it’s a key. I feel comfortable in the system. I feel comfortable in the way our team is supposed to be playing. Fast, aggressive on the forecheck. Tracking down pucks, creating turnovers."

You had 20 goals your second full season in the NHL with the Wild in 2002-03 but didn't hit that barrier again until 2011-12. Did you ever think you would reach that mark again after 2002-03?

"Once you get that tag of being a third-line guy, you can still do things on the ice but you don’t nearly as many offensive [zone] faceoffs. You don’t get the key faceoffs, the key ice time. The time the team is putting pressure to score goals if it’s a tie game or a key time in a game where you’re not in an offensive role. Right now, I get used in every aspect of the game. I’m confident I can help a team win."

What's the difference between being a 19-goal scorer and a 20-goal scorer? Does that mark mean anything?

"You know me by now. Numbers…. Who cares? It’s all about winning. If you can score the big goal… if you’re the guy to score that night, yes it’s great to be the guy. But it’s a team game. Last year, if you asked me if I wanted to win the [Stanley] Cup and not have any points like I did in [2009] … no question… I wouldn’t want to score a goal to put my name on the Cup again."

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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