Dubois’ brilliance for the Jets extending previous goals and assists

Dubois’ brilliance for the Jets extending previous goals and assists

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SEATTLE — Let’s get one thing straight: The Winnipeg Jets will come away empty-handed from their quick two-game weekend trip into the Pacific Division if Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn’t absorb a stiff right hand to the back of the head.

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The Jets don’t get put back on the power play with less than half a minute left in the third period, and don’t produce the craziness in front of the Seattle Kraken net to produce a last-second tying goal.

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Sunday night’s story from Climate Pledge Arena, under the dueling jumbotrons known to locals as “the Twins,” looks a lot different if Dubois doesn’t shove his shoulder into the chest of Kraken defender Carson Soucy as the two jockeyed for position in Seattle’s zone.

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The story from Sunday would simply have read that, for the second night in a row, a former Jets player threw the final dagger into his former club, sealing the victory for their current one.

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But Dubois, who blends his powerful, at times domineering, skill set with the despised qualities of a pest, proved simply too irresistible for Soucy to pass up a late opportunity to catch his pound of flesh late.

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The punch was a godsend, if you can call it that.

Soucy won the skirmish, sending Dubois face-first to the ice after the two hacked and cut each other in the build-up to a strike that is considered illegal in the UFC.

Nevertheless, it was Dubois who helped win the war.

Dubois’ game reminds you of Boston’s Brad Marchand in the way he is able to penetrate the surface of the skin with an unmistakable annoyance, yet can finesse a puck in the back of the net on offense.

And while Marchand struggled to retaliate in similar situations early in his career, it was Dubois’ perceptive head, even after he was knocked around, that really stood out.

He didn’t lick anyone, for example.

The 24-year-old was clearly shaken, which would have reduced his natural instinct to strike back. But he also seemed content to stand near the Seattle bench — Soucy already planted in the penalty box across the ice — and barked at Kraken forward Andre Burakovsky, who had drilled Nate Schmidt from behind earlier in the game, sparking a brawl.

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Karma is a so and so, Dubois probably said in a more Rated R way.

“He’s a big man and … he has that ability to upset opponents,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness mused after the game. “They know he’s out there. And he kept calm. The guy gave him a pretty good cross check and he kept calm. It is equally important. If you want to get under their skin, that’s one thing. But you have to have that discipline not to retaliate, and he didn’t, and that’s huge.”

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Dubois is a maestro when it comes to treading the legal/illegal line on the ice.

He dances a dance that few can, utilizing mage level when locking horns with an opponent. Often, if he goes to the box, he drags a rival with him.

There’s a reason he led the NHL in penalty kicks last season (and possibly why he also paced the league in penalty kicks).

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Dubois’ play in the game is something to behold. It’s fun to track night in and night out.

And perhaps what makes it so special is how he keeps his head around him.

Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Winnipeg Jets exchanges words with Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL game at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Nov. 12, 2022 in Calgary.  (Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Winnipeg Jets exchanges words with Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL game at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Nov. 12, 2022 in Calgary. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Well, almost.

Dubois came very close to crossing the proverbial line Saturday night in Winnipeg’s 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames.

He was up to his usual tricks in the game, taking Blake Coleman to the box with him, with Dubois called out for hooking and Coleman dinged for holding. If only we could ask the men in zebra stripes about their decisions in the game.

Coleman was fined the maximum $5,000 allowed under the CBA on Sunday for hitting Dubois — not holding, which was the first call. Similarly, Dubois hadn’t hooked anyone during the game when both players ran toward Connor Hellebuyck’s boards.

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It was a bizarre call on both sides, calls seemingly settled for the moment because the referee thought there had to be a foul when 400-plus pounds of combined NHLer weight crashed to the ice.

Where things could have gone awry for Dubois was later in the second period when he was sprung on a breakaway, only to be whistled for offside.

Dubois, frustrated, shot the puck into the corner, which seemed to draw the ire of Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom, in turn, stuck his knee out to trip Dubois, who was still speeding through the zone.

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Now furious, it took 6-foot-6, 250-pound defenseman Nikita Zadorov and former Jets forward Trevor Lewis to hold Dubois back from destroying Markstrom.

Dubois didn’t hold back after the game, calling it a dirty and dangerous play. Based on all available replays, he has a strong case. Markstrom received a tripping penalty for his effort.

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It was one of the rare times you saw Dubois enraged to such an extent that no prisoners, including an opponent, would be taken.

“He’s just a big body and he gets into a lot of the dirty areas,” Blake Wheeler said after Sunday’s tilt in Seattle. “He just has a little bit of that mindset, you know? I think he impacts the game in a lot of very positive ways for our team and seems to get under the other team’s skin as well. For a big kid to play with a little edge, I think it’s a good step for him.”

The good news for the Jets is that he is on their side.

Dubois is up to seven goals and 12 points in 14 games this season and also contributes away from the scoring list. It’s a pivotal year for both Dubois and the Jets, with the former looking to maximize his earning potential and the latter hoping that those earnings will come on checks stamped with a Jets logo.

He continues to prove that he is worth every penny.

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottbilleck

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