Not many people expected the Minnesota Wild to dominate as much as they have this season. Through 68 games, the Wild have already racked up an impressive 43 wins and 92 points, good for fifth in the NHL. And behind this rock-solid performance has been stellar player from veteran goalie Devan Dubnyk. Turning in one of the best seasons by a goalie in recent memory, Dubnyk has revitalized his career in Minnesota and has played a vital part in the Wild’s all-around success.
Nobody’s denying the greatness of Dubnyk’s season, as it has truly been phenomenal. However, with Dubnyk still generating a lot of Vezina and even Hart Trophy consideration, it seems like a lot of people aren’t noticing Dubnyk’s steady decline in play since his fantastic start to the season.
This isn’t meant to take much away from Dubnyk’s overall season, as Dubnyk has arguably been one of the best goalies over the entire year. Out of all goaltenders, Dubnyk is only one of three to have a save percentage of at least .930 and is second in the entire NHL in save percentage. For goalies who have played at least 30 games, Dubnyk is first with a .930 save percentage. He’s also second in the league with 36 wins and tied for fifth with five shutouts.
However, these numbers don’t tell the tale of two seasons Dubnyk has had in net. To start the year, Dubnyk was on fire, stopping almost everything that came his way. In his first 27 games, Dubnyk stopped 771 out of 814 shots for an insane .947 save percentage, recording five shutouts in the process.
During this time, what was just as impressive as Dubnyk’s remarkable highs was his unfathomable consistency. In all of those first 27 games, he only had one game with a save percentage under .900 and only two total games with a save percentage under .915. Those games were the first two of the season, with Dubnyk going the next 25 games without recording a save percentage under .915.
But no goalie would be able to keep up a pace such as this and regression was inevitable. But what’s so surprising is how remarkably average Dubnyk has seemed to be over his last 27 games. In his past 27 games, Dubnyk has only stopped 667 of the 731 shots he’s faced, good for only a .912 save percentage. Since December 28th amongst all goalies who’ve participated in at least 10 games, Dubnyk’s .912 save percentage is only tied for the 26th best in the league, slightly lower than Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard’s .914 save percentage over the same span. Dubnyk’s win totals have remained about the same but since December 20th, Dubnyk hasn’t recorded a shutout. This is a far cry from the blistering pace he set in the beginning of the year where he recorded three shutouts in his first seven games and four in his first 13.
And not to mention, Dubnyk’s once-unbelievable consistency has been consistently inconsistent lately. Over his last 27 games, Dubnyk has had 12 games with a sub-.900 save percentage and has had long stretches of consecutive games with save percentages beginning with an eight. Dubnyk has had six games where he’s given up four or more goals, compared to the zero times that happened over his first 27 games.
Despite his recent play, Dubnyk still deserves to be in the conversation for the top goalie in the NHL this season, but it’s important to see how far Dubnyk’s regressed in the second half of his season. Dubnyk isn’t as head-and-shoulders above the rest of the competition as he was in the beginning of the year as he’s been surprisingly average over these past few months.