NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk:
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk won't do it even if his statistics this season give him the freedom to compare himself to Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
"I don't like to be sitting here comparing myself to [Price]," Dubnyk said Monday. "I mean, he's done a lot of pretty incredible things and he does it every year. I think it's exciting to be in the conversation."
Dubnyk and Price are mentioned together this season because they have identical 1.66 goals-against averages and .946 save percentages. Dubnyk's numbers are built off of his 519 shots against in 17 starts totaling 1,015 minutes. Price has faced 467 shots in 15 starts totaling 904 minutes.
Video: MIN@STL: Dubnyk makes a great save on Stastny
Dubnyk has an NHL-high four shutouts and has played in 11 one-goal games, including eight where the Wild have scored two goals or fewer.
"He's obviously considered the best goalie in the world so we're all striving to get there and get above," Dubnyk said of Price. "Any time you're mentioned to be competing at his level or close to, that's definitely a good thing and I'm happy about that."
Dubnyk's rise up the goalie ranks continues to be one of the most astonishing stories in the NHL. He was out of the League a little over two years ago, after a tumultuous 2013-14 season that saw him go from the Edmonton Oilers to the Nashville Predators to the Montreal Canadiens and eventually home with his NHL future very much in doubt.
Dubnyk got another chance with the Arizona Coyotes at the start of the 2014-15 season, and parlayed it into a trade to the Wild and a chance to be the No. 1 goalie. He is 68-41-10 with a .928 save percentage, 2.06 GAA and 14 shutouts in 123 games since his Wild debut on Jan. 15, 2015.
Dubnyk talked about his stats and how he views them, his rise with the Wild and more in a Q&A with NHL.com.
Here are Five Questions with…Devan Dubnyk:
Do you look at your numbers? Are you a numbers guy?
"I'll glance at them once in a while. I've learned, I guess, not to look at them too much. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I don't know what they are or that I'm completely blind to them, I've just learned not to worry too much about them. Obviously when you get a long-term contract on a good team you just work to have great numbers, you don't worry about having them for contracts or really what anybody else is going to think about them. You just work to have the best numbers that you possibly can. Obviously it's been a good year so far that way, and it's been fun because it hasn't felt like I've done anything magical or made huge adjustments or done anything that I can't maintain and continuing doing throughout the season. Not to say I'm going to have a .950 [save percentage] throughout the entire year, but the way I feel about my game right now it feels I don't have to change anything. It feels like I can maintain."
Video: WPG@MIN: Dubnyk denies Scheifele with stick save
That's interesting because if you do look at them, and you say you do every once in a while, it can go one of two ways. If you don't like them, you could put extra pressure on yourself to improve them. If you do like them, you can get to be overconfident. Is there a balance that you have to have when you do look at them in order to feel that you can maintain?
"Yeah, and I think probably the biggest effect looking at them will have on you is how you're able to handle goals against during games. Obviously you can look at them all you want between games, but if you're so worried about what they're going to be it's going to affect how you feel, and how you react to getting scored on during a game because it's going to bother you if you give up two on seven shots early in the game and you're worried about improving your stats instead of just the next save. That could have an effect on what you're doing. When you're younger and coming into the League you want to see where you're at, and how you're playing at the NHL level, it's something you pay attention to. In a contract year you might be looking at them more than usual because that always comes into play. But having the opportunity to play as many games as I have as I've gotten older here and gotten the opportunity with Minnesota, you just learn to play and do everything you can to win a hockey game, even if that means 6-5."
Is that the attitude that helps you through these tight, low-scoring games, because you've played in 11 one-goal games this season and the Wild aren't exactly lighting up the scoreboard? Eight times already this season your team has scored two or fewer goals with you in net.
"Yeah, and again that's something that comes with experience. The thing that I've found that helps me is I've found a way to not really think about what the score is in the game. You're always going to know what the score is and obviously it's important if it's a one-goal game in the third you need to make those big saves if you can, but it's about focusing on what I need to do for each play, whether it's the first minute of the game or the last minute. On each play there is something I need to be doing, whether we're winning by five or the game is tied. I need to be sharp. I need to be on my angles. I need to be patient on my feet. There are all these things I need to be doing regardless of the score, and I've found a way to just get comfortable in that scenario and just concentrate on that. If you're able to do that it takes away from the pressures of it being a tie game or a one-goal game."
This is sort of a looking-back question: What has changed for you and for your game, your mentality, to allow you to go from sitting at home and wondering about your future in the NHL at the end of the 2013-14 season to being a Vezina Trophy candidate?
"I think technically, obviously, I've learned a lot as far as my skating and my tracking. It's a combination of working with Sean Burke in Arizona. He really tightened up my skating around my crease. I'm a lot more set and prepared and that allows me to be more patient. Tie in the head tracking, which adds to being patient, that's all technical stuff. If you look at my game when I played in Edmonton to now it has definitely evolved, which, I mean, it should because everybody's game should evolve and get better as they get older.
"As far as mentally, it's a couple things. To have an opportunity to play on a great team like Minnesota, you learn how to win. What I mean by that is just having the thought process of every game that you go into you expect to win the game. It sounds like something little, but when you're battling, when you're struggling to get wins for years in Edmonton you don't really grab that mindset, you just kind of go in there and play.
"And I think a very general thing that has been very important since that year of turbulence is just being grateful for being in the League, and every chance I get to play, every chance that I get to start. It's about being excited about it. Even though I have played a lot of games in last couple of years, that hasn't changed. I'd be happy to play 82 games right now if I had the opportunity. Obviously that doesn't make sense on the body, but I'm just really excited every chance that I get to play 60 minutes in the NHL. When you see how quickly it can be taken away from you, you don't take that for granted anymore because you just enjoy every minute you get to play. It's not necessarily that you don't have the appreciation before, but it's scary when you see how quickly it can happen. Everything is going up, everything is headed in the right direction, and just like that, everything can be taken away from you. I was fortunate enough to get another opportunity to stay, but it's scary to see how quickly it actually happens."
Video: COL@MIN: Dubnyk slides and denies Soderberg
At that time did you ever find yourself wondering, 'What am I going to do now?' Like, if this isn't happening, what now? What do I do?
"I never got there. I'm a big optimist so I always believed I was going to get another chance to play in the NHL. I think more than anything I accepted maybe a little bit that I need to just be grateful to get a job and go play as many games as I can. I accepted the possibility that at my age and the way the year had gone that I might have to be a backup, and just grind to get whatever ice time I can get from here on out and be happy about it. I accepted that that might be the scenario. And then in Arizona, the second I started to get two or three starts in a row I just had that itch again and knew that I wanted to play games and just wanted an opportunity to play more games. I got real fortunate to get an opportunity in Minnesota."
BONUS QUESTION: For the team this season itself, what has been the impact of the coaching change to Bruce Boudreau?
"We're defending extremely well. It's not that we weren't before, but I feel we're very confident in each other. We make good reads in the offensive zone. If the puck turns over we're great in the neutral zone and we're great in our end. I feel everybody is confident in each other, in what the other guy is doing, and that's obviously extremely important. Right back to me, it's been so much fun this year playing with these guys. They've given me a ton of confidence to make good reads, to be patient, to feel good standing back there knowing exactly what is going on. Also [assistant coach] Scott Stevens has come in and has just been incredible with our penalty kill. It's been a big change. He's so positive but so proactive on every single little play, and getting guys to really understand how we want to kill penalties and getting everybody on the same page. That was a struggle for us last year, our penalty kill, and this year it makes a huge difference. We're starting to score some goals now and the guys are getting some confidence. We all knew that was going to come. I know the talent in the room. We have guys that can put pucks in the net. If we just stick to how well we're playing defensively those pucks are going to go in the net on the other end of the ice and then we'll start to pile up the wins."