Devan Dubnyk said he's never been in a stretch like this in his career before.
"And everybody knows I've had a bad stretch before," Dubnyk said.
As the Minnesota Wild has tried to claw its way out of a losing streak and a tough five weeks, Dubnyk has shouldered the brunt of the workload in the crease. The Wild has lost 11 of its past 12, and Dubnyk has been the goalie of record for nine of those.
The lone win came when Darcy Kuemper shut out the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-0 victory on Jan. 21.
"You can tell that he's grinding right now, you can tell that, like everybody, the losses have gotten to him," Head Coach Mike Yeo said before it was Kuemper, not Dubnyk, who started on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.
The objective was to give Dubnyk a mental reprieve, allow him to clear his head, and bring a fresher mindset into helping the Wild get back in the win column.
"You want to do more, and you kind of come to each game and feel like you need to be doing more," Dubnyk said. "The funny thing about being a goalie is it's a reactionary position. It's a rare position in sports that's 100-percent reactionary, and you can only do what is given to you, and what comes at you."
His past three starts, Dubnyk has allowed 12 goals. In his five starts prior to that, Dubnyk allowed a total of nine goals.
The only common theme though was that they were all losses.
"The last three obviously more goals have gone in, but if you look at the ones before that, that was where you want try to just continue doing what you're doing," Dubnyk said. "But it becomes more difficult."
Reading the box scores won't do Dubnyk much justice over the past few weeks. The byproduct of that, according to Yeo, has been a mental weight that is making Dubnyk less aggressive, and more focused on tertiary elements.
"One thing that I've seen is, it's kind of human nature, and what happens is, I'm watching (Washington Capitals goalie) Holtby right now … with the results that they've had, it allows him to be very aggressive," Yeo said. "[Dubnyk] right now, obviously how bad he wants to win, and putting an awful lot of that burden on himself, I find that there are certain times when instead of being aggressive on that first play, maybe he's thinking about the pass backdoor, or the rebound, or somebody else's next opportunity."
Now the hope is with a clean slate, Dubnyk can rediscover his aggressiveness, and refine his focus.
"I want to play every game, but when it starts to get to that point where it becomes difficult to come fresh, and kind of let go what's happened before, sometimes it's a good idea to take a break, and step back," Dubnyk said. "Mike saw that, and we'll go have some fun tonight, and try to get back to having a little bit of fun."