Pierre-Luc Dubois put in the work this offseason.
If you've seen how much he's bulked up (just check Instagram), you'd know what we mean. We're only six games into the season, but racking up just one goal and two assists isn't exactly where most expected Dubois to be at after a very successful rookie campaign of 48 points.
Now, Dubois had a slow start last season (one point in his first 12 games), but he also wasn't getting to play with all-stars Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin. Once he got bumped up to the first line with the likes of those two (and Josh Anderson for a bit), he recorded 44 points in just 62 games.
Expectations were high for the third overall pick in the 2016 draft coming into his sophomore season, and he's still trying to get his game going – and Dubois knows what he needs to do.
"It's not really where I want to be at," said Dubois after practice on Friday. "I think I had one or two maybe good games to start the year where I had good shifts, but for me I'm not where I should be right now."
Even with 20 goals last season, Dubois knows he must contribute beyond scoring. Dubois believes that a big part of his game is setting up both Atkinson and Panarin to succeed, and he wants to step up into that role even more this season.
"My role especially as a center man is to help everybody out more, support the (defensemen), support the wingers. I want to create more offense, get more pucks on the forecheck...it's up to me to elevate my game to those standards."
Dubois' expectations of himself, along with what seems like a little hesitancy to insert himself into the middle of the ice and contribute to scoring chances may be reasons behind his slight lack of early efficiency. His shooting percentage is definitely lower this season (12.1% to 7.1%), but he's taking more shots – an indicator that things may turn around.
"...but for me, I'm not where I should be right now."
Almost all of Dubois' goals last year were scored in the high slot area or being parked in front of the net for rebounds. This year, it seems like he's playing a bit on the outside, which is not where he is a goal scorer or playmaker typically. The man was born with a nose for the net, and needs to be lured back towards it:
"I put a lot of pressure on myself, I want to perform well, I want to help the team win...maybe I want to help the team win so much that instead of just letting myself play and doing all the little things I usually would, now I think about the little things and forget some things."
Even with his slow(er) start, Panarin and Atkinson (nine points and six points respecplaying as well as they are definitely gives Dubois some time to figure the things out that he needs to:
"I'm not nervous, it's only six games into the season, there's a lot of games left."
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