For a guy with butterfly and palm tree tattoos, Pierre-Luc Dubois plays a correspondingly unchill brand of hockey. Unchill is good, as playoffs favor the provocateur. Corey Perry’s continued employment isn’t based on his sparkling personality, or even his hockey prowess at this point.
When PLD is engaged, he is as dynamic as they come. He walks that razor-thin edge of reckless abandon and organized chaos. It’s blasphemous to say, but he is the closest thing in a Jets uniform to Dustin Byfuglien since, well….. Dustin Byfuglien.
Their primary likeness is the ability to shift the momentum of a game. PLD is less bruiser and more agitator, but he functions as a catalyst of energy – a characteristic Big Buff epitomized.
On Tuesday night against the Golden Knights, PLD was once again the mitochondria of the Jets’ DNA. On Thursday, the glucose levels crashed, and his energy level failed to power the Jets’ core. Not coincidentally, the Jets won Tuesday and lost Thursday.
In 2016, Dom Luszczyszyn, now with The Athletic, developed a measure called “Game Score.” His goal was to use publicly available stats that you find on an NHL stat sheet, assign a weight to each, and combine them in a meaningful way to evaluate how productive a player was within in a single game. It is not a perfect stat, but a very good measure of a player’s game-by-game productivity.
PLD led the Jets this year with an average Game Score of 0.99. Josh Morrissey was second (0.93) and Kyle Connor third (0.90).
Selecting a Game Score benchmark of 1.5, which represents a well above average game for PLD, we find that ‘Doobie’ crossed the 1.5 threshold 29 times this season, including the 2 playoff games. The Jets record in that 29-game sample size? 25 wins and 4 losses.
Breaking it down further, PLD had Game Scores above 1.5:
· 3 times in October
· 5 times in November
· 7 times in December
· 8 times in January
· once in February
· once in March, and
· 4 times in April.
When PLD is not at his best, the Winnipeg Jets are not at their best
The pattern is not hard to follow. The Winnipeg Jets were first in the Western Conference late into January when the landing gears jammed. Correspondingly, February and March represent PLD’s least productive stretch (sprinkling in some injury for good measure), over which time the Jets went 10-12-2.
To be clear, PLD was not the SOLE contributor to the Jets’ second-half woes, I covered that here. He does however have an outsized impact on the success of this team. The Jets absolutely need him to be the game-changer he can be.
Consistency though has been his Achilles heel. Consistency is what makes a good player great. Inexplicably, there are nights his game seems less frenetic, and a general malaise appears to befall him. The Jets need great from PLD, not just good.
Regardless of what happens in these playoffs, there is a real fear that PLD has his heart set on playing for Montreal. While the Habs have assets, as an organization, they are in proverbial freefall. The next few weeks could have a huge impact on what PLD decides to do in the future.
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I propose launching an aggressive marketing campaign to keep PLD in Winnipeg long-term. With permission, we can even borrow the “Forever Winnipeg” moniker. If it takes starting a Kickstarter to purchase him his own personal Home Depot, let’s do it. PLD has proven that when at his best, his imprint (or dare I say tattoo) on the Jets should be permanent.