PRINCIPE: Your #1
Gene Principe writes on the play so far this season of Devan Dubnyk
(Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
I'm kind of kidding because Sam Gagner had a goal and an assist, Magnus Paajarvi provided a sparkling shorthanded one timer for the winning goal. Yet all of that would have meant little to nothing if it wasn't for the 26-year-old netminder. The Oilers had 14 shots all night while the Jackets had 15 alone in the final frame. If time possession or zone time was a stat it would have weighed heavily in the home team's favour. The road team had an off night but the goalie was bang on with his play.
It's interesting how coming into the season the concern was goaltending but lately it's been more about goal scoring. No one is worried about Devan Dubnyk in what has been his first real audition to be Edmonton's top netminder. There have been glimpses of opportunity but never like the one Dubnyk is living right now. He's a number one not only in name but in his play. The season is a quarter of the way through for Edmonton and Dubnyk has been the team's MVP. Sam Gagner does have points in every game but one and Taylor Hall has looked fantastic coming off shoulder surgery but where might Edmonton be if it wasn't for the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft? The answer is nowhere near where they are now.
Unlike first round and first overall picks likes Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov who went straight from a junior bus to an NHL plane Devan Dubnyk made it to the show the old fashioned way. He earned it. Working his way slowly, and agonizingly at times, from the ECHL to the AHL and finally the NHL. A path with bumps and forks in the road that presented challenges which the one-time Kamloops Blazer met head on. His demeanour is calm and cool but don't let that mask (pardon the pun) his drive and passion built up during his climb to the NHL.
The one thing that Devan Dubnyk can't do is speed up the process . Time is something that will determine if he is more then a short term number one netminder. Can he do it next week, next month or the next few years? Questions that he won't be able to answer until the future. For now he's answered the one question that was being asked going into the season. Will the Oilers goaltending be good enough? The answer is a resounding yes, thanks to Devan Dubnyk.
Gene Prinicipe is the host of Oilers games on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Oilers.