Dupuis, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, is the last healthy member of that line for the time being. Going into the Penguins’ Feb. 20th game against Chicago, he had 10 goals and 15 assists through 58 games. The 31-year-old winger sat down with PSR contributing writer Alex Nseir to talk about the Penguins’ successes and struggles this season, the buzz surrounding owner Mario Lemieux’s public statement and playing with a depleted roster. Just don’t ask him about Sidney Crosby’s status.
Alex: Since Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been out of the lineup, the team has had to grind out wins in low-scoring games. Is playing that way every night exhausting?
Duper: It’s one of those things that you need the attention to details. You’re missing really, really key players… but the guys that have come up scored some big goals for us; they have played the right way. We play one way, even if Sid and Geno are in or out of the lineup. The team system and the way we approach games, it’s got to be the same no matter what.
Alex: Does it put more pressure on veterans like you, Max Talbot and Jordan Staal to add more offense?
Duper: No, you know what, goals are going to come. It’s a matter of playing the right way. Like I said, whoever has been brought up to play has been doing well. Obviously you want to do well, you want to win, and you want to have the team winning as well… by scoring. But there’s so much in the game of hockey where you can help without scoring goals.
Alex: There are less than two months left in the regular season. Looking back on the year up to this point, what do you think have been the greatest team accomplishments, as well as for you personally?
Duper: We had that little stretch (the 12-game winning streak) where we didn’t lose. Sid’s point streak was pretty remarkable as well. The way Flower bounced back after, I don’t know how you want to call it, a shaky start. The way he’s been playing since that is great. I think there have been a lot of great moments in the season.
Alex: Mario Lemieux’s recent statement about the fight-filled game on Long Island has created some controversy. Sidney Crosby voicing opinions on head shots did the same. Has that been a distraction at all?
Duper: No, it’s not at all. It’s outside of hockey. What we worry about are the guys that are playing the game, the game itself. I think the statement (from Mario and the team) was there, and we all support it.
Alex: So the team is completely behind what Mario said?
Duper: He’s our owner. Whatever he says we’re going to support it for sure.
Alex: The trade deadline is approaching. Have you given any thought to what the Penguins might do considering all of the extra cap space they have with Evgeni Malkin on long-term injured reserve?
Duper: Not at all. You don’t get to think of any of that, because usually the rumors aren’t true. Whatever happens, happens. And I know if nothing happens, we’re fine. If something happens, the management thinks it’s for the best of the team. Whatever they do, like I said, us players, we don’t control it.
Alex: If Sid can’t come back this season…
Duper: Why are we talking about that?
Alex: We’re just speaking hypothetically, though.
Duper: No, I’m not going to talk about that.
Alex: Unfortunately, Evgeni Malkin is out for sure. Every playoff team has the goal of winning the Stanley Cup, but does his injury change your expectations at all?
Duper: Not at all. The expectations are there. We want to win the Stanley Cup. We’re the kind of team that I think believes in each other. We’ll be just fine.