Following a tumultuous 2013-14 campaign, which saw him twice traded, career start No. 200 was the furthest thing from goaltender Devan Dubnyk’s mind. When the Minnesota Wild acquired the netminder on Jan. 14, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo had no idea he’d be starting the goalie in 25 consecutive contests. Yet here they are, as Dubnyk will hit both marks tonight as the Wild host the New Jersey Devils at Xcel Energy Center.
Dubnyk continues to set a franchise record for consecutive games started and the quarter-century mark is the best since 2012. Jonas Hiller was the last netminder to start more than 25 consecutive, when he between the pipes for the Anaheim Ducks for 32 straight from Jan. 12 to March 18, 2012.
By a stretch, the run is the most of the goaltender’s career. He believes his most came during the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign. With the games and wins adding up as fast as a Texas Instrument, it’s easy for the 28-year-old to stay focused.
“I think it’s 12,” Dubnyk said. “Mentally, I’m good, it’s been so much fun. It’s been a crazy ride. Obviously winning games and the great feeling we’ve had in the dressing room gives you a boost of energy. When you can enter every single game feeling like you’re going to win the game, it’s easy to grab that energy.”
With four back-to-back series left on the schedule, the question of when the streak ends comes up. For Yeo, he’s not prepared to answer that query quite yet.
“At some point, but not tonight,” Yeo said. “I’m not sure if the next game, that will happen either. I just think he’s looked sharp. He’s looked fresh.
“For the foreseeable future, right now, you can expect him in net.”
Minnesota’s bench boss cracked a smile when he was asked—when the club acquired Dubnyk—if he thought there was any way he’d hit 25 in a row.
“In my mind, on Jan. 14, I was just thinking about Buffalo and trying not to think about anything past that,” Yeo said. “We knew that we were acquiring a guy that filled a very important void for us, a need at that time.
“But to sit there and say that we expected it to play out the way that it has, I don’t think anybody would have.”
Getting the proper rest has been a key for the netminder with the heavy workload. Dubnyk took the option during yesterday’s optional skate. With the club’s recent travel and game schedule, the Wild has been monitoring his practice time on the ice.
“They’ve been real good about practice time,” Dubnyk said. “The schedule is always crazy in the last couple months of the year, as far as travel and games. So, I think any opportunity I can get to rest is good and with the goalie situation we have here, I don’t feel like I’m ruining practice by not going on.”
Amidst a playoff push and Minnesota currently holding the first wild card spot, the netminder wants and enjoys the action.
“The games are all so important right now,” Dubnyk said. “They have been from the time I got here, nothing’s changed; they just become more important now.
“It’s easy to get up for them.”
Carter, Cooke and Zucker Skate
Injured forwards Ryan Carter, Matt Cooke and Jason Zucker were on the ice before the team’s morning skate. Yeo doesn’t expect any of them to rejoin practice in the immediate future, but is optimistic for the recovery of all three.
Yeo believes Carter is the closest to return, “not that we should expect him in the next week or two, but he’s getting closer.” Cooke is expected sometime after Carter. Zucker has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and the team will get a better sense of how far away he is from rejoining, but Yeo said he’s likely at least a month away. Tomorrow’s check-up will be to ensure his clavicle is healing properly.