Dillon Dube understands the value of sitting out for a couple of games.
Obviously, the 22-year-old Calgary Flames winger would have preferred to be playing with his teammates for the two games in which he was scratched in the past week, but he returned to the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night feeling like the little break might have been good for him.
“I think it motivates you a lot,” Dube said Saturday. “I think you don’t take (playing) for granted. You want to be in every night. You appreciate it and to be able to sit out and watch, you really understand how hard it is to win and to do the little things right through the (60) minutes we have to play.
“When you really watch, detailed and from afar, it really is clear.”
So far this season, Dube has scored seven goals and added nine assists while mostly playing alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. Three of those goals came against the Ottawa Senators on March 4, though.
Former head coach Geoff Ward was fired shortly after that game ended and was replaced by Darryl Sutter. In the 10 games Dube has played with Sutter actually behind the bench, the young Cochrane native has put up four points.
After a March 26 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in which Dube took a high-sticking penalty in the first period and the Jets scored immediately on their ensuing power-play, Sutter took Dube out of the lineup.
“I think his strength is his speed. He could use it better,” Sutter said Saturday when asked about how Dube fared against the Oilers. “His strength is from the blue-line to the net. He can use that better.
“As a line, they had some decent zone-time, they just didn’t get a lot of opportunities. (Tkachuk) scored on the breakaway coming out of the penalty box, so we need a little more out of that line in terms of not just the checking part, but the finishing and o-zone time.”
By his own admission, Dube understands he needs to be better. He said he was fighting the puck a little bit early on Friday and part of that was just getting back up to speed after not playing for a week.
Dube is hopeful, though, that the time he took to evaluate his game over the past week will help him find ways to step up and, ideally, help the Flames go on some sort of run before the season is over.
“It’s not what anybody wants, you always want to be in the lineup helping your team win, but you’ve got to look at it as for the greater good of everyone,” Dube said. “If I’m not at my best I’m not helping my team. So to take a step back and look at it and realistically take a look at how you’re playing and then you can kind of move on and get ready for when you have a chance to play.”
Prior to Friday night, the last time Michael Stone had scored a goal was all the way back on Jan. 5, 2020.
Understandably, then, it felt pretty great to unload a blistering shot that lit the goal lamp against the Oilers.
“It was nice,” Stone said with a smile. “Every game I play I’m trying to contribute, whether that’s scoring a goal or blocking a shot. I enjoy doing both those things, so to score is nice.”
Stone has suited up on the Flames’ blueline for the last three games after not having played an NHL contest since Feb. 25 of last year.
He did a quick conditioning stint in the AHL after spending most of the season on the Flames taxi squad and hasn’t looked at all out of place since being called up.
And after not scoring for so long, Stone admitted to feeling the same way he did when he was just a kid and would put one past the goalie and into the back of the net.
“For me, it (feels that way). Some of these guys who get a bunch of them probably don’t feel the same way, but I don’t get too many so it’s nice to see one of them hit the back of the net,” Stone said.
After missing Friday’s game against the Oilers, Flames centre Mikael Backlund did not practise on Saturday afternoon when the team took the ice back in Calgary.
That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be out for Sunday’s tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs, though. Sutter didn’t offer any clues about that in either direction.
“He didn’t skate today,” the Flames head coach said. “We’ll see what it’s like in the morning.”