Ask Brian Dumoulin what the inside of a penalty box looks like, and he probably wouldn’t be very descriptive.
After all, it’s a place that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman rarely sees.
Entering this weekend, Dumoulin has been called for just one penalty in his last 25 games dating back to Dec. 7. And it wasn’t even the result of a lack of discipline, such as hooking or slashing. Dumoulin’s only penalty came on March 28 when he inadvertently shot the puck over the glass in Norfolk to earn a delay of game minor.
The fact that Dumoulin has done a good job of staying out of the box speaks volumes about his discipline and ability to avoid getting caught out of position. The fact that he’s often playing against other team’s top lines makes the feat even more noteworthy.
“It’s impressive,” said Penguins assistant coach Alain Nasreddine, who knows a thing or two about playing defense from his 15-year pro career manning the blueline. “Especially being in the role he’s in, defending against some really good players. It means he moves his feet and plays the right way.”
Playing disciplined and staying out of the box is nothing new for Dumoulin.
Last season as a rookie, Dumoulin totaled just 18 penalty minutes in 73 games — the lowest total among any of his teammates who played at least 40 games. And during his junior season with Boston College, Dumoulin was called for only three minors in 37 games.
Dumoulin can’t explain his low penalty minute totals.
“It’s just how it’s been,” he said. “I really just try to keep good positioning. Usually when you’re out of position is when you’re forced to grab or something like that. But above that, I just want to stay out of the box and stay on the ice.”
And that’s exactly what head coach John Hynes prefers as well from his second-year blueliner. Dumoulin brings more than a disciplined game — he can also produce points.
With the an injury to Philip Samuelsson opening up special teams time among the Penguins defense corps, Hynes said Dumoulin could be next in line for some increased opportunities on the power play.
“He’s done a nice job there, carrying over from last year when he took a huge step running our power play in the playoffs,” Hynes said. “That’s what we expect of him.”
Dumoulin scored two goals and added two assists while on the power play in last season’s playoff run, and this year three of his five goals have come with the man advantage.
With more power play time in store, Dumoulin is ready to show he can do more than defend and stay out of the box.
He can also provide offense.
“I really want to start shooting more and get pucks through,” he said. “In the AHL, it’s really hard to create opportunities because everyone’s so defense-oriented. The more I can shoot, the more opportunities I can give our forwards in front of the net. I’m looking forward to it.”
Dumoulin isn’t necessarily a stranger to the offensive game. He posted six goals and 24 points last season and has 18 points in 47 games this year, including back-to-back two-point nights in January, not long after he returned from his first NHL call-up to Pittsburgh.
After missing all of February and the early part of March with an injury, Dumoulin has returned to form. In his last 10 games before this weekend, Dumoulin has two goals, six points and is a plus-6.
It’s just part of a season that, despite a few rough patches and an injury, Dumoulin is pretty proud of.
“Injuries are going to happen and my play in January (minus-4 in 14 games) wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be. But I was able to have my NHL debut, which was awesome and now I’m back healthy at a crucial time heading into the playoffs,” he said. “It’s been all good this year.”