Dubnyk doubles down

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

Devan Dubnyk wasn’t being serious. He was just trying to have fun with the moment.

After having gone his first 10 starts and first 13 appearances without a win, suddenly he had two in a row — against the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks yet — and came within three minutes and two seconds of having his first NHL shutout.

“Maybe I’ll just reel off another 10 more now,” he said.

Ah, not so fast there, young fella.

Head coach Pat Quinn, who put in a “Win And You Stay In” goaltending system for the rest of the season, was talking about reneging on the deal after the game.

“We might change,” he said after the Oilers’ won their second straight game, this one a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, a team that look like they flipped two pages of the calendar instead of one, and with a sixth-straight loss are disappearing in the last month of the season instead of the first month of the playoffs.

“We talked about that today,” said Quinn. “We might change so nobody gets left out with this little run,” he said of the possibility of starting Jeff Deslauriers Tuesday night here against the Vancouver Canucks.

“I haven’t made up my whole mind yet.”

Huh? Say what? Chief Quinn speaks with a forked tongue?

“After the Olympics, we decided if we win, you’d play the next one. We were trying to give a bonus for a solid game. They just both wanted to play well and establish themselves at this level.

“We watched them both make big beautiful saves, then give up something devastating. It was something we thought of that maybe would result in them not giving up those crappy ones. Those guys were giving us good and not-so-good at the same time.

“Maybe it did work. Devan just had two very good full games, maybe the first two full games he’s had.”

So why would he change?

“Sometimes I don’t know what the cripes is going on,” laughed Quinn. “For Devan, those were the first back-to-back wins we’ve had in I don’t know how long,” he said.

So that’s it? Quinn wasn’t counting on the Oilers winning two in a row?

He came close to saying what I believe to be behind the plan to possibly ditch the plan.

Back when Nikolai Khabibulin was injured and the Oilers decided to go with their back-up Deslaurier and minor league Dubnyk, the idea was to decide which of the two they’d want to keep.

You could make a case that if the rest of this season was a contest between the two, Deslauriers with a 14-25-3 record, a 3.18 goals against average and a .900 save percentage, had already won the battle over Dubnyk with his 1-8-2, 3.96 and .847 going into last night’s game.

So maybe the idea of canceling the “Win And You’re In” program is about giving the winner, Deslaurier, the bulk of the games in the final 10 games of the schedule.

That’s lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon wheel rut.

“The goaltenders are going to ask what the hell are you doing?” admitted Quinn.

Win And You Stay In?

“Before Friday, I was trying to get the first one. I didn’t think about it,” said Dubnyk.

Just like he wasn’t thinking much about getting his first NHL shutout.

“I started to think about it when it was 5-0,” he said of the goal by Aaron Johnson at 15:05 of the third period. “Before that, all I was thinking was that San Jose is a good team and I don’t want to let them back in the game. When it was 5-0, the thought started to creep in. Just a little bit. I didn’t get too excited about it. Maybe if I had 20 wins I might have been a little more desperate to get my first shutout. I was just happy to get another win. I hope I have another opportunity. But right now, I’m just happy to have that winning feeling.”

Dubnyk says he doesn’t know if he lost the battle of the back-ups before he won his first games.

“I hope not. My starts have been so spread out. This is my first opportunity to play in the NHL. It’s not an easy jump. I feel I’m just starting to find my confidence.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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