ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Is Wild's Dubnyk the NHL's best goaltender?

ST. PAUL -- It has become widespread knowledge across the NHL that Cary Price, when healthy, is the league's best goaltender. The Montreal Canadiens goalie is 13-2-1 with a league-best .947 save percentage and 1.68 goals-against average. In mid-N...

ST. PAUL - It has become widespread knowledge across the NHL that Cary Price, when healthy, is the league's best goaltender.

The Montreal Canadiens goalie is 13-2-1 with a league-best .947 save percentage and 1.68 goals-against average. In mid-November, he became the first goaltender in NHL history to win his first 10 games of the season.

"He's that guy everyone across the league is chasing," Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said.

Dubnyk might have caught him.

Although he can't compete with that win total, Dubnyk has been just as impressive between the pipes, and with each passing game his play continues to raise the question: Is it possible that a veteran who finished the 2013-14 season in the AHL has morphed into the best goaltender in the NHL?

ADVERTISEMENT

It's certainly arguable at this point.

Since being acquired from Arizona for a third-round pick in January 2015, Dubnyk has been one of the NHL's most consistent goaltenders. He willed the team into the playoffs after that midseason trade, starting 39 of the final 40 regular-season games as the Wild finished 27-9-2.

Dubnyk followed that with a modest campaign last season that saw him finish 32-26-6, but this year has been something else. His stats this season speak for themselves.

He shoulders a .946 save percentage is a hundredth of a percentage point behind Price, and his 1.66 GAA is better. Dubnyk also leads the league with four shutouts, while Price has only accomplished that feat twice.

"He's playing with so much confidence," defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. "It's been fun to watch."

Said defenseman Matt Dumba: "He makes the saves that he should make, and a lot of times the saves he probably shouldn't."

Still, those impressive performances haven't translated to immense success. Despite the fact that he hasn't allowed more than three goals in a single game this season, Dubnyk is only 9-6-2. That mark is especially glaring considering he has nearly identical stats to Price.

It comes down to scoring. The Canadians rank No. 5 in the NHL at 2.96 goals per game. The Wild, meanwhile, rank No. 10 in the NHL at 2.82, although those numbers are inflated thanks to a hot start.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dubnyk, for example, already has lost two 1-0 games this season, to the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 5 and the Calgary Flames on Nov. 15. Yet he remains confident that if he continues to do his job, the goals will come.

"My job is to stop the puck," he has said time and time again this season.

Dubnyk wouldn't bite when asked to rank himself among NHL goalies. He knows Price is the first name that comes to mind, then maybe Boston's Tuukka Rask or Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals. Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators also had a solid November, and it's only a matter of time before Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings returns from injury.

That's a long list, but it's missing one name.

"I don't really want to start talking about where I rank," Dubnyk said. "I want to keep playing as well as I can so the conversation is there. You strive to be the best; that's why we play. ... So, if I can keep doing that and have my name mentioned with the best, then I'm doing my job."

As for being compared to Price, Dubnyk relents somewhat.

"He's widely considered the best goaltender in the world," he said, "so any time I'm being mentioned in the same sentence as him, I must be doing some things right."

Related Topics: MINNESOTA WILDHOCKEY
What To Read Next
Hull was a five-time 50-goal scorer, led the NHL in goalscoring seven times, twice won the Hart Trophy and was voted a First-Team All-Star on the left wing 10 times.
Pro
Kick in final seconds sets up Kansas City vs. Philadelphia on Feb. 12
Pro
Miles Sanders rushed for 2 TDs and Jalen Hurts passed for 121 yards and rushed for a TD as the top-seeded Eagles advanced to their first Super Bowl in 5 years.
Pro
In a rematch of the 2021 French Open final, Djokovic swept to a 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) victory at Rod Laver Arena to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking.