Dillon Dube has leveled up. The Cochrane kid has gone straight from Charmander to Charizard. He completely skipped Charmeleon.
On the ice, he’s looking more like Johnny Gaudreau than Johnny Gaudreau (his beard game is much stronger though). In fact, despite the lines being shuffled midway through game two, the de facto third unit has looked like the Flames top line through six post-season games.
Coming off a two-goal performance in Game 1, Dube wasted no time getting back to work, striking 19 seconds into game two. Despite the setback last night, Dube’s strong showing in the playoffs is something to feel good about (he probably could have made a better play on the game-winning goal, but there was blown coverage by most everyone).
We’ve seen flashes of his speed in transition, tenacity on the forecheck, and ability to drive to high danger areas this season. The now bearded Dube has been able to find a new level at the most important time of year.
There’s no arguing Dube’s tantalizing talent. Remember his slick cross body backhand to ice a shootout victory against Minnesota? How about his overtime toe drag around Nathan MacKinnon to feed Sean Monahan for the sudden death winner?
Now, there’s not anything incredible about his counting stats nor his underlying metrics this season and his play in the defensive zone still needs some work.
However, some key rate statistics from the regular season will catch your eye.
(5v5 Data from Natural Stat Trick)
His points per 60 minutes this season at 5v5 put him in the same percentile as Sean Monahan (1.53).
His assist rate was good for seventh on the team, right behind Andrew Mangiapane (0.98).
Dube ranked just below Gaudreau and Backlund (both at 0.70 ixG/60) in terms of his individual expected goal rate and was fifth on the club in generating high danger scoring chances.
His work through the neutral zone has been on full display this season as well.
Based on 5v5 data from Corey Sznajder, who tracks micro stats such as zone entries, Dube ranked second on the team this season in controlled zone entries per 60 minutes behind only Johnny Gaudreau.
Carries / 60
His goal in Game 1, where he torched the Stars off the rush, was a dazzling reminder of that zone entry and net drive prowess.
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) August 11, 2020
Oh, and that heavy forecheck with plenty of bone-crushing hits you’ve been seeing from Dube and his linemates? He ranked fifth on the team (min TOI 100 minutes) this season in hits per 60 minutes with 6.67. Lucic ranked second. Bennett ranked third.
The ability to retrieve pucks and deliver contact on the forecheck has been a hallmark of the trio’s success through six games.
Dube shared these thoughts with the media after the 3-2 victory in Game 1:
“I think we’re just all hard on the puck… I think the one thing we all have in common is that. We get it in and we hunt really hard. Benny and Looch – I’m never really first on the forecheck, those guys are always on it. It creates stalls. It creates battles where one of us can come in and pick it up late and make a play from there.”
Sznajder’s transition data supports the forechecking ability of the 29-93-17 trio.
Bennett, Dube, and Lucic ranked top three in dump-in recoveries this season.
Recovered Dump-ins / 60
United, that has remained constant during the playoffs. All three have been driving hard pressure on the forecheck and have shown a propensity to get physical and effectively recover pucks in the offensive zone.
With the status of Matthew Tkachuk’s availability looming, Coach Ward will likely be forced into moving some pieces around. The natural option seems to be slotting Derek Ryan back in with his regular season mates Dube and Lucic. Sam Bennett could then slot up onto a makeshift second line with Mangiapane and Backlund.
Keep in mind that, through 6 postseason games, Ward has been deploying Dube and his line primarily in the offensive zone. Natural Stat Trick records Dube has seen 26 offensive zone draws and 16 in the defensive zone.
Nevertheless, Dube is delivering.
He leads the team five on five with:
- 54.48 CF%
- 63.66 xGF%
- 70.83 HDCF%
(Data from Evolving Hockey)
Dube’s offensive impact has become even more meaningful considering the Flames top guns have been completely stifled against the Stars.
At the time of his recall, Dube’s goal was to stick with the Flames for good in the regular season.
Now? He’s leading the offensive charge in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Continued meaningful contributions from a guy who will still be on his ELC next season bodes well for the Flames in the present and into the cap flat world of next season.