After some early-season struggles, the Devan Dubnyk of old has returned at the perfect time for the Minnesota Wild.
Prior to the Minnesota Wild‘s current three-game win streak, no one was sure of what to think about this team. In general, feelings towards the squad were anything but positive, especially when it came to starting goalie Devan Dubnyk.
In his first seven starts, Dubnyk had a rather pedestrian 3.03 goals against average and .905 save percentage for a 3-3-1 record. As a result, he was ranked among the bottom half of goaltenders, a great cause for concern given the subpar play from the Wild as a whole. In fact, head coach Bruce Boudreau even called the goalie out after he gave up a couple of easy goals in a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 6. Not to mention, he was pulled from the game.
Just over a week later, times have changed. Dubnyk is in the midst of a phenomenal three-game shutout streak that’s carried to Wild to three straight wins over the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers. Basically, Dubnyk has looked like the All-Star goalie he’s been the last two seasons.
Of course, it’s hard to solely blame the 31-year-old goalie for his early-season struggles. The Wild dealt with injuries to Marcus Foligno, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise. They also have experienced growing pains from young defensemen like Matt Dumba, Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson. In turn, it’s safe to say the supporting cast around him has been far from ideal at times, although Foligno, Niederreiter, and Granlund have returned to the lineup.
Even so, Minnesota desperately needed the Dubnyk of old to return and give a boost to a team that’s spent a majority of the season last in the Central Division. In the last three games, he has provided just that and hopefully, the success carries in the same way it did when he single-handedly lifted the Wild to the playoffs in his first season with the club.
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While the shutout streak is bound to end, the fact Dubnyk is confident and on top of his game again should excite fans, players, and coaches alike. He’s been tracking the puck amazingly well and it’s worth noting the Wild’s defense hasn’t exactly been stellar either. I mean, Dubnyk has saved 41, 32, and 30 shots respectively, so he’s definitely been tested over the shutout streak.
Nevertheless, these are the type of performances the Wild need from Dubnyk to have success this season. If his tenure with Minnesota has shown us anything, it’s that this team is as good as the play of their goaltender. So, if he continues the elite play, expect the Wild to get back to being one of the top teams in the Western Conference sooner than later.
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That being said, it’s just fantastic to see the Wild put a win streak together after a rough start to the season. Next, they face a tough test at home in the Nashville Predators, but having the hottest goaltender in the league should help slow down last season’s Western Conference champs.