Devan Dubnyk made his debut for the Minnesota Wild in a 7-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 15. Since he joined the team, the Wild are 19-4-2 and have the NHL’s best record since the All-Star break.
Much of their recent success comes from Dubnyk’s .939 save percentage since he joined the team, best in the NHL in that time frame. And while he has been dominant, the skaters in front of Dubnyk have been among the best in the league, and the Wild are ready to be a tough opponent in the playoffs.
The Wild have excelled in all phases of the game since acquiring Dubnyk. Since his debut, the Wild rank in the top five in the NHL in a multitude of categories, including goal differential and PDO (save percentage plus shooting percentage).
The Wild are shooting well, drawing penalties and creating a large volume of scoring chances. The Wild are doing so in true team fashion, as none of their players rank in the top 20 in offensive SAT since Dubnyk made his debut. Jason Zucker, the team’s leading goal scorer before the trade for Dubnyk, has been out since Feb. 10.
This is not to say that the Wild have been without great individual performances. Since Dubnyk’s debut, three key veterans in particular have increased their production: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek.
The offense has been a big key for the Wild, but the defense has provided increased stability in front of Dubnyk. Behind All-Star Ryan Suter, the Wild have gotten excellent play from veteran Nate Prosser and rookie Matt Dumba.
Since Dubnyk was acquired, these two lead the NHL in PDO, and Dumba is shooting 14.3 percent, sixth in the NHL among defensemen with at least 200 minutes of ice time in that span. The rise of these players behind the Wild’s top defensive pairing has helped them hold opponents to 26.5 shots against since Dubnyk’s debut.
While the emergence of depth is key, no skater is more responsible for Minnesota’s defensive success than Suter. He averages 29:05 of ice time per game, second in the NHL (Drew Doughty, 29:23).
As seen in the hextally chart included, Suter excels at forcing opponents out of the slot and into areas where goals are harder to score. Because he plays almost half of every game, this impact is felt for a large period of time and allows the Wild’s other defensemen to get extra rest. Because of this, more than 75 percent of the shots against Dubnyk have come from low-danger and medium-danger areas (third-most in the NHL since Dubnyk was acquired).
Dubnyk’s success with the Wild is undeniable. Since his debut in Minnesota, he ranks third in save percentage and has allowed 1.64 goals against in 25 starts. His teammates deserve a lot of the credit for this performance, as they have played very well since he came on. With the anticipated return of left wing Jason Zucker, the Wild look to be a formidable opponent as the schedule pushes toward the postseason.