While this is admittedly a generalization, you could probably categorize most starting NHL goalies in two ways:
1. The goalies who are consistently solid-to-very-good. These guys might not “stand on their head” and steal games for their teams as often.
— or —
2. Goalies who suffer from cold streaks, sometimes disturbingly so … but can also go on a tear where seemingly no one can get a puck past them.
Now, some of the all-time greats probably mix those two to better results. Conversely, some of the pretenders might not even enjoy the peaks anywhere near as often as the valleys in choice two.
For years now, it’s been tough to get a read on how good Devan Dubnyk really is.
He quietly put together strong numbers behind bad Edmonton Oilers teams until that era sputtered out, and then Dubnyk really sputtered in 2013-14. Since redeeming himself in 2014-15 and only getting better from there, it’s been fascinating to chart his progress.
More and more, Dubnyk seems like he might be turning into a Category 2 guy.
On one hand, there are tough times, like his slump late last season. Check out the monthly section of his split stats from last season and you’ll see his all-world work through the first few months and then some struggles once the calendar hit 2017.
While injuries and other issues must be taken into account, it’s probably fair to say that he was struggling a bit to begin this season. Dubnyk might be in red-hot mode again, however, as he collected his third consecutive shutout on Tuesday.
If a Dubnyk hot streak feels oddly familiar to you … well, nice call:
It’s not like these have been the type of goose eggs where Dubnyk was able to leaf through his favorite nonfiction books while the puck was wholly at the other end, either. In all three games, the Wild were outshot; much to the chagrin of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dubnyk blanked Philly during these last two contests. Dubnyk pitched 32 and 30-save shutouts against the Flyers and a 41-save beauty versus Montreal (all, of course though not automatically, were wins for the Wild).
This hot streak now places Dubnyk’s save percentage at a strong .926 clip. Remarkably, it has now only put him above .500, as he only improved to 7-6-1 (the Wild are 8-7-2 on the season).
Ultimately, the jury is probably still out on Dubnyk, at least if you’re trying to rank him among the NHL’s best. Is he somewhere close to the top? Perhaps he’s instead in the middle of the pack?
Maybe it comes down to “which” Dubnyk you’re talking about.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.