As the Komets have suffered through inconsistencies lately, their captain, defenseman Guy Dupuis, has tried to amp his game up – on the ice and on the bench.
Selected as the IHL’s Best Defenseman each of the past two seasons, with 31 goals, 125 points and a plus-75 rating over that span, his on-ice production had been down this season
Twenty-two games in, he had only three goals, 14 points and a minus-1 rating. But in the six games since, heading into Thursday night’s contest against the Bloomington PrairieThunder, Dupuis had two goals, six points and a plus-1 rating.
The key for me is to get the puck through (to the net), said Dupuis, 39, the Komets’ all-time leader in games played with 908. Every team does a really good job of trying to block shots. They have forwards coming through the shooting lanes. But if I can get it to the net, there will be maybe rebounds, deflections, screens, something to help it get in.
Dupuis had 13 shots on goal in the last seven games, 74 for the season. That put him on pace for 200 shots on goal. In each of the last two seasons, he eclipsed 300.
Dupuis runs the point on the power play, so his ability to set up scoring chances in front of the net is crucial. But he believes figuring out ways to elude defenders is not something that only he needs to improve upon – the Komets’ other blue-liners need to do the same, and the forwards need to clean up the garbage in front, too.
If myself and the rest of the defensemen can get the shots through, it’ll help, Dupuis said. If we’re driving the net, getting in front of the goalie, it makes it easier for everybody to get goals. The games in which I’ve been able to help out, forwards were right in the goalies’ faces, screening, deflecting.
The Komets were 16-11-1 and in third place heading into Thursday’s game against Bloomington, which was 14-9-4 and one point back in the standings.
Of course, Dupuis’ contributions aren’t limited to the offensive end of the ice. He strives to be the anchor of the Komets defense, which ranked third with 2.74 goals against, and he needs to help lead a team chock full of youngsters.
The two-time defending-champion Komets haven’t won three in a row since November and were 5-5-0 in their last 10 games coming into Thursday.
I just try to lead by example, said Dupuis, the United Hockey League’s Best Defenseman with Fort Wayne in 2006-07. A lot of times on the bench, we might get antsy. Guys get a little nervous or antsy. It’s on the veterans to say, Hey, boys, relax. We’re all right here.’ We’ve got to get everyone refocused.
Although he denies having changed anything in his game or routine, it seems as if Dupuis’ game has been refocused in recent weeks, and the Komets will need him to continue being productive down the stretch.