By most accounts, St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn had a very successful rookie season in the NHL. The 21-year-old showed glimpses of pure offensive brilliance to go along with a steady resolve on defense that rivaled older, more experienced defenders.
That being said, Dunn still has a lot to work on before he enters his sophomore season. Can he avoid the dreaded sophomore slump? Overcoming that stereotype may require Dunn to focus on the mental side of the game, an area he learned was the most important part of his transition into the NHL.
Dunn spoke about the mental side of the game with STLToday.
“It’s more just being focused. It’s more of a mental game than anything. We’ve all been playing the same game since we were 5 years old. Nothing really changes on the ice. I show up at the rink and put my equipment on the same way. Nothing really changes that way. It’s more staying composed in your own head. Taking everything for what it is, not getting too high, not getting too low. We’ve got to find a way to compete for all 60 minutes when maybe we weren’t doing that during the year. We’ve got to be able win games that mean the most.”
That’s a mature and intelligent take from Dunn. Countless players have broke into the NHL with a strong season only to fade during their second season at the top level. In order to avoid that, Dunn needs to be sharp both physically and mentally. That second part may be the most important as he has already proven that he’s physically capable of succeeding in the NHL.
Robert Bortuzzo, Dunn’s defensive partner for most of the year, noticed the youngster’s ability to grow in the mental side of the game.
“He ingests a lot of information, he got better all year. By the end he was taking more of an onus. He’s a bright talent for sure.”
Let’s hope Dunn can take the next step forward in 2018-19.