Mike Smith

‘Amazing how quickly we regained our confidence’ with Dubnyk, says Wild GM


The Minnesota Wild are 13-2-2 since acquiring Devan Dubnyk from Arizona in mid-January. It’s an impressive feat to say the least, and one that few saw coming — including the guy that went out and acquired Dubnyk.

“I don’t know that anybody would have envisioned how well Devan’s played and how well we’ve played since the trade,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said, per NHL.com. “I think our players were excited about Devan coming in and he played very well right from the get-go, and it was amazing how quickly we regained our confidence defensively and how much better we played collectively with the goaltending he provided.”

The Dubnyk acquisition has been absolutely vital for both the Wild and Fletcher. From a team perspective, the 28-year-old netminder saved what was shaping up to be a step-back season; after winning a playoff series for the first time in 11 years last spring, the Wild were expected not just to make the postseason this year, but challenge the Western Conference’s elite upon getting there.

And for Fletcher? Dubnyk (13-2-1, .936 save percentage, 1.64 GAA, five shutouts) got him out of a major jam.

Goaltending was a problem in Minnesota for most of last season and Fletcher didn’t do an awful lot to address it during last summer. He put faith in two older players with significant health concerns — Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom — then engaged in a contentious contract negotiation with the untested Darcy Kuemper, who eventually signed and became the club’s No. 1 after Harding busted his foot in the preseason.

As a result, Minnesota’s situation in goal remained largely unchanged from ’13-14. And when things went south — Kuemper struggled, as did Backstrom — Fletcher was feeling the heat, and there didn’t seem to be any immediate fixes on the horizon as the team sunk to its low point, an 18-19-5 record, on Jan. 13.

Yes, Dubnyk had promise. He looked good in a small sample size as a Coyote, but he also was the same guy that played badly as he bounced from organization to organization last year, ending the season with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in Hamilton.

What’s more, Dubnyk was also one of just a few goalies available on the open market when the Wild made the deal. So without taking complete credit away from Fletcher, it has to be said that some of this is luck — a notion he doesn’t entirely disagree with.

“Let’s be honest, when you’re looking for a goalie in the middle of the season there is typically not many available,” he explained. “We called around and tried to find how many goaltenders were available, and the situation with Arizona, they were looking to get Mike Smith a bigger role and they were willing to consider a draft pick.

“I think it was a good fit for both teams, but timing is everything.”

Goalie nods: Ramo shrugs off trade talk, will start versus Rangers


News and notes from around the crease…

Ramo goes at MSG

Karri Ramo will get the start in goal tonight when Calgary takes on the Rangers in New York, and knows this opportunity — getting the nod ahead of Jonas Hiller, that is — could be viewed as a potential showcase for a trade.

Not that the pending UFA is letting it distract him.

“It’s not up to me,” Ramo said, per the Calgary Herald. “Maybe some players are affected by this, when they are going to decide where they want to go.

“All I can do is to play my best, work hard, and if it happens, it happens.”

There are rumblings around Ramo, and with good reason. He’s unrestricted come July 1, and it stands to reason he’s not in Calgary’s future plans — Hiller is under contract for one more year at $4.5M and the club is very high on 23-year-old Joni Ortio, an AHL All-Star this season who went 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage in a five-game NHL cameo earlier this year.

Calgary also has a history of flipping goalie depth at the deadline — last year, the Flames sent Reto Berra to Colorado in exchange for a second-round pick.

It remains to be seen if Ramo would garner similar interest on the open market. The 28-year-old’s numbers on the year aren’t great — 9-5-1, .904 save percentage, 2.69 GAA — but he could be seen as an upgrade at the backup position for certain teams.

That said, he would be an expensive option with his $2.75M cap hit.

(Also, no word yet on who’ll start for the Rangers.)


Canucks at Bruins: Eddie Lack for Vancouver, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Coyotes at Isles: Mike Smith vs. Chad Johnson

Flyers at ‘Canes: Rob Zepp vs. Cam Ward

Sabres at Jackets: Michal Neuvirth vs. Anton Forsberg

Stars at Jets: Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg, Jhonas Enroth likely for Dallas

Oilers at Wild: Devan Dubnyk for Minnesota, no word yet on an Edmonton starter.

Avs at Preds: Nothing yet from either team.

Habs at Blues: Carey Price vs. Jake Allen

Panthers at ‘Hawks: Scott Darling for Chicago, no word yet on a Florida starter.

Wings at Kings: Jonas Gustavsson for Detroit, no word yet on a L.A. starter.

Schneider, Devils blank Coyotes

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Cory Schneider made 38 saves and Scott Gomez netted the game-winner as the New Jersey Devils blanked the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 Monday night.

The game-winner is Gomez’s first as a member of the Devils since Jan. 13, 2007.

With the win New Jersey has won four straight for the first time since Feb. 3-10, 2013. The Devils are now 11-2-3 in their last 16 home games.

New Jersey moves eight points back of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Arizona has lost six straight.

Gomez’s goal moves him into fifth place on the Devils’ all-time list with 473 points passing Bobby Holik. He trails Scott Niedermayer for fourth spot by just three points.

Mike Cammalleri scored twice, including the insurance marker.

Its Cammalleri’s fourth multi-goal game of the season, and his second in three games.

Jordin Tootoo had an assist in the win and now has points in three straight games for the first time since Feb. 14-19, 2012.

Mike Smith stopped 25 shots in the loss.

Schneider improves to 22-22-5 with his third shutout of the season and his sixth as a member of the Devils.

New Jersey continues its six-game home stand Wednesday against the Calgary Flames.

Goalie nods: Howard hoping for bounceback after surrendering six goals to Stars


Only two games in the NHL tonight. The premier match-up goes in Anaheim, where the Ducks will play host to the Red Wings.

For Detroit, it’ll be Jimmy Howard starting in goal. Howard allowed a season-high six goals on 32 shots in Saturday’s 7-6 overtime victory in Dallas. He spent the last part of the game on the bench, replaced halfway through the third period by Jonas Gustavsson.

Howard has shown an ability to bounce back from tough performances this season. All four times he’s allowed four goals in a game, he’s held the opposition to two goals or fewer in his next outing.

John Gibson will start for the Ducks, who’ve won two straight after losing five of six.


It’ll be Cory Schneider for the Devils at home to Mike Smith and the Coyotes.

Goalie Nods: Hammond gets second straight start for Sens


Hammond looks for a second straight win

Andrew Hammond will make his second career start tonight when the Ottawa Senators play host to the Florida Panthers. Hammond made 42 saves in a win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night in his first career start. It was the 27-year-old’s second NHL appearance. He carries a 2.96 G.A.A. and a .916 save percentage into tonight’s action.

Roberto Luongo gets the nod for the Panthers.


Ducks at Oilers: John Gibson vs. Ben Scrivens

Hurricanes at Devils: Anton Khudobin vs. Keith Kinkaid

Blue Jackets at Canadiens: Curtis McElhinney vs. Carey Price

Jets at Maple Leafs: Michael Hutchinson vs. Jonathan Bernier

Penguins at Blues: Thomas Greiss vs. Brian Elliott

Red Wings at Stars: Jimmy Howard vs. Kari Lehtonen

Lightning at Coyotes: Ben Bishop vs. Mike Smith

Kings at Sharks: Jonathan Quick vs. Antti Niemi