I’ve been doing an Oilers top 20 in one form or another since 2003 and if there’s one thing that has held true through the exercise it’s that goalies remain a mystery. Jeff Deslauriers has ranked as high as #2 and there have been several lists that didn’t include him. Devan Dubnyk’s slotting since his draft day have been #9 (2004), #3 (2005), #7 (2006), #7 & #9 (2007) and then this season he’s fallen further (#10 and now #15).
If you put that on a graph it’s a yo-yo, but the last 4 quarters are heading in the wrong direction.
I believe the problem for Dubnyk is twofold: he lacks consistency and he’s playing in front of an inexperienced team. We can’t fault him for youth on the blue but Dubnyk is at a point where the AHL shouldn’t be a mystery and this month (December) has been (close to) his worst in hockey’s highest minor league:
- February 2007: .855
- October 2007: .921
- November 2007: .877
- December 2007: .918
- January 2008: .852 (1 game)
- February 2008: .916
- March 2008: .897
- April 2008: .894
- October 2008: .900
- November 2008: .919
- December 2008: .876
The worst performance by month in the group is the first one, February of 2007. The second worst performance by month in the group is the current one, December of 2008. Bookends can be nice, they give structure to a room (I had golden A-Z’s as a kid), but when we’re talking about goaltending this isn’t a good bookend at all.
The recent results have to be tempered with some very good press, some of it from unusual quarters:
- Lowell Devils coach Kurt Kleinendorst: “He’s big in the net. He’s got a nice presence about him, very calming. You can see the potential in him.”
- Springfield Falcons coach Jeff Truitt: “Certainly, Devan’s been there for us before. He’s been outstanding.”
He’s also had some good things happen for him. In November (the week of the 16th) he was AHL player of the week, honored because he allowed only 4 goals in a 3-games span in which he saw 124 shots. His SP was .968 that week and his GAA was 1.30.
Early in the season Dubnyk talked about confidence and better conditioning, telling the New England Hockey Journal “it’s because I came in prepared, knowing I was going to play a ton of games. I know Coach (Jeff Truitt) has got a lot of confidence in me, and that helps a lot. It’s fun to be here, and fun to be around the room. I’m having fun playing, and you always play your best when you’re having fun.” Also: “I worked a lot on dropping body fat. I wanted to cut down and kind of lean out and make sure I wasn’t carrying around any unnecessary weight.”
Dubnyk has now played parts of three seasons in the AHL and the progress isn’t terribly obvious:
- 06-07: 4gp, .855 & 2.94
- 07-08: 33gp, .904 & 3.12
- 08-09: 25gp, .903 & 3.01
A very nice start to the season has been flushed by a cool December. Hopefully DD can recover later in the season and show some statistical progress (that SP needs to be much better in order for Dubnyk to cover the bet). I’m also going to use the lesson of Jeff Deslauriers and say that although his performance has been inconsistent, measuring progress with goalies is an extremely difficult hobby. Like jazz, or women.