To mark the quarter pole of the 2016-17 season, NHL.com is running its third installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Vezina Trophy.
The Minnesota Wild knew they were going to have to be outstanding from the net out if they were going to have a chance to win an extremely competitive Central Division this season.
That's been the case since opening night. Devan Dubnyk, who was simply looking for a roster spot in the NHL three years ago, has since emerged into one of the League's top goaltenders. In 47 games this season, Dubnyk, 30, is 33-11-3 with a 2.05 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and five shutouts.
Video: LAK@MIN: Dubnyk closes pads to stop Carter's backhand
That's why the consensus among 13 NHL.com writers has Dubnyk the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goaltender at the quarter pole of the season.
"I'll glance at them once in a while," Dubnyk said of his numbers. "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."
Dubnyk finished with 64 points, 15 more than the second-place finisher, Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals. Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was atop the poll halfway through the season, finished third with 39 points.
Dubnyk's steadiness has him leading the League in wins and save percentage. He ranks second behind Holtby in the GAA race. Holtby, Peter Budaj of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins are the only goaltenders with more shutouts (seven).
Video: CHI@MIN: Dubnyk denies Kero twice at the doorstep
His play is arguably the biggest reason why the Wild are three points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central Division and Western Conference with two games in hand. Home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs could be pivotal for the Wild, who have never reached the Cup Final.
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1- basis): Devan Dubnyk, Wild, 64 points; Braden Holtby, Capitals, 49 points; Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets, 39 points; Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, 9 points; Peter Budaj, Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 points; John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks, 7 points; Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers, 5 points; Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins, 5 points; Tuukka Rask, Bruins, 4 points; Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators, 3 points; Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres, 3 points.