Dubinsky, Umberger Could Be An Effective Duo

Friday, 08.03.2012 / 11:00 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Players like R.J. Umberger are hard to come by, and the Blue Jackets are fortunate enough to have acquired another of a similar ilk this summer.

Since his arrival in Columbus four years ago, Umberger went from seldom-used winger in Philadelphia to an all-situations, multi-positional forward with the Blue Jackets -- and it seemingly began right off the bat. Following a breakout performance in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs with the Flyers, Umberger was dealt to Columbus and quickly signed a four-year deal, which was followed up by a five-year extension in 2011.

Just over a week ago, the Blue Jackets received Brandon Dubinsky as part of a package from the New York Rangers in exchange for Rick Nash. He's not the exact same player as Umberger, but there are a lot of similarities in their games, and it shouldn't come as a surprise if they line up together once the 2012-13 season begins.

Dubinsky, 26, is coming off a down year with the Rangers in which he bounced between the second and third lines, playing the majority of games with Artem Anisimov (another component of the Nash deal). He's 6-foot, about 200 lbs. and can play center ice or the wing -- sound familiar?

Dubinsky has potted 20 goals twice in his NHL career and is two years removed from a 50-plus point campaign on Broadway. He played a lesser role on a Rangers club that advanced to the Eastern Conference final, but is all but assured of playing a far more prominent role on a young, hard-working Blue Jackets club in the fall.

Could he be the No. 1 center? It's possible, but more than a few people I've talked to think Dubinsky and Umberger could work very well together.

They're both big, strong forwards who can protect the puck and go to the net to score goals. Their versatility is another reason they could end up on the same line, and why not put a skilled winger on the right side...possibly Cam Atkinson?

Umberger and Dubinsky could open up space for Atkinson either in the high slot or in the face-off circle, two key areas of the ice where Atkinson can do damage with his wrist shot.

Like Atkinson last spring, Umberger also finished on a high note by scoring nine goals in the final nine games of the year -- including a hat trick on Mar. 23 vs. the Carolina Hurricanes and a pair of two-goal games. The big guy from western Pennsylvania has always been a streaky goal-scorer, but since coming to Columbus, he has averaged at least 20 goals a year and the Blue Jackets would certainly benefit from Umberger getting back to 25-to-30 goal form.

With Dubinsky as either his left winger or his center, I think we'll see the best of Umberger and a bounce-back year from Dubinsky. The Blue Jackets' power play will have options both at the "dirty areas" of the ice as well as at center; if one guy gets booted from the circle, the other can step in and win possession of the puck.

Though it's possible the Blue Jackets keep the Umberger-Derick Brassard-Atkinson line together to open the season (they had success as a trio to close out 2011-12), pairing up Umberger and Dubinsky gives them both versatility and size up front that enables them to play against the top checkers in the Western Conference.

Just think: we're only seven weeks away from seeing it play out on the ice.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 3 3 1 1 4
B. Dubinsky 3 0 4 0 4
M. Calvert 3 2 1 3 3
R. Johansen 3 1 2 0 3
B. Jenner 3 1 2 -1 3
D. Savard 3 0 3 1 3
C. Atkinson 3 1 1 1 2
D. MacKenzie 3 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 3 1 0 0 1
J. Skille 3 0 1 -1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 1 2 0 .904 3.32
 
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