Penguins' Dupuis defying age and thriving
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Pascal Dupuis sits near the younger, less experienced Joe Vitale in the Penguins locker room at Consol Energy Center.
Not that Vitale is a rogue, but Dupuis has a message he tries to drive home often.
"I joke around all the time with Joe Vitale about clean living," Dupuis said.
That encompasses the two major sides to Dupuis' hockey personality ---- a little bit of laughter and a lot of that clean-living stuff.
It has brought Dupuis to this point in his career: At 33, an age when some NHL players are in decline, he is going strong.
Going into the matinee today against the Devils in New Jersey, the right winger has four goals, eight points with at least one point in seven of the Penguins' 11 games while playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
Last season, even with Crosby, one of his regular linemates the past few years, sitting out most of the games because of injury, Dupuis set career highs in goals (25), assists (34), points (59), plus-minus rating (plus-18) and shots (214), and eight were game-winning goals.
Careful about what he eats and religious about his workouts, Dupuis, 6 feet 1 and 205 pounds, remains a good player past 30 in large part because of the way he moves in skates.
"His speed creates a lot of chances for him," said Crosby, who is no slowpoke. "He can skate for days.
"He's in great shape. His speed is definitely at the top in the league. He's fast. Whenever he decides to stop playing, his speed won't be an issue. He'll be fast forever."
Penguins vs. New Jersey Devils, 1:08 p.m. today, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
- TV, Radio:
Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders:
Evgeni Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Martin Brodeur for Devils.
Have won five games in row, including 5-1 lashing of Devils last Saturday. ... Sidney Crosby has six-game points streak (1 goal, 10 assists). ... Are 6-0 when James Neal scores.
Have won three games in row. ... Have not lost in regulation at home (4-0-1). ... Ilya Kovalchuk has two short-handed goals to lead NHL before Friday.
- Hidden stat:
Devils killed all four Tampa Bay power plays in 4-2 win Thursday and haven't allowed a power-play goal in past 19 times short-handed, a stretch that covers four games.
Of course, getting to places quickly is only the first part. Dupuis still needs to act -- for instance, to dish the puck or finish a scoring chance or just be effective as a forechecker.
In the 5-2 win Thursday against Washington, Dupuis and Crosby got a two-on-one break. Crosby fed Dupuis, who showed keen hand-eye coordination by swatting at the bouncing puck and scoring the Penguins' third goal.
"If you ask Sid, I'm the one who made it bounce on my stick," Dupuis said, smiling. "But it was good that I was able to bring it back [under control] to snap it home."
Home, off the ice, is where Dupuis likes to be, with his wife, four children and several pets.
He remained in Pittsburgh during the lockout that erased the first three months of the season and skated four times a week at Southpointe -- often lining up with Crosby and Kunitz.
"I'm one of those guys that just stayed in the gym, did my homework during the lockout," Dupuis said. "I was here with my family in Pittsburgh. We worked out, and I had my little life routine where you're home every night or you're at the kids' activities. You're in bed at 10:30 every night.
"Maybe it sounds boring, but maybe it added on a couple years in my career."
It was a luxury to spend that much time with his family, but, even with the lockout over and teams playing a condensed schedule, Dupuis feels as if he's getting a bit of a break. Teams are playing only intraconference games.
"We're playing in the East, so we're coming back home quite a bit," he said. "It's usually short flights. They know what's going on. They're used to it. It's my life."
He's not shortchanging the off-ice workouts just because the game schedule is a bit more demanding.
"It's when you get tired that you start sticking out on the ice," Dupuis said. "When you feel good, when you feel confident, strong and you're in great shape, you make the right decisions all the time."
Dupuis long has been a top penalty-killer, but this season he is getting some minutes on the second power-play unit. One of his goals was his first on the power play in the past seven seasons.
That delights Crosby, who said with a sly grin, "I give him a hard time about playing on the half-wall [on the power play] -- when he settles the puck down, he's pretty good on the half-wall."
NOTES -- Because of the nor'easter dumping snow along the East Coast, the Penguins altered their travel plans. They flew to New Jersey in the late morning and practiced in Newark. Originally, they were to practice at Consol Energy Center, then fly to Newark. ... Defenseman Kris Letang, who missed the game Thursday because of an undisclosed injury, did not make the trip. ... New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur's next appearance will be his 1,200th in the NHL. ... In a post-lockout promotion at their first four home games, the Penguins gave away 52,142 fountain drinks, 33,289 nachos, 26,633 pretzels, 22,258 hot dogs, 22,118 chicken sandwiches and 20,380 hamburgers. They also sold 8,680 jerseys, 18,950 T-shirts and 8,776 hats at half price.
First Published February 9, 2013 12:00 am