Attitude an asset in Oilers' Dubnyk

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Devan Dubnyk can’t win for losing.

It’s not a new angle. He may have set some sort of modern-day record for it last year, going forever before he managed to get his first win.

How many was it again?

“Eleven,” said Double D.

“And that’s not going to happen this year!”

Right now it’s three. With an asterisk.

The Edmonton Oilers netminder has started three games. He’s lost all three.

One in overtime. Two in shootouts, including a five-round shootout to lose 4-3 to the Phoenix Coyotes Friday to ensure the team will have gone from the second game of the season to Grey Cup week without winning a game at home.

“That’s something, I guess,” he said of having a 0-0 record in regulation time.

“To lose like that in overtime or a shootout is frustrating. I want wins, period. I’d like to be 3-0.”

When you’re paying Nikolai Khabibulin $4 million, he’s going to be the go to guy in goal unless injury, or jail, force him out. It’s an injury which has Dubnyk in there for at least a week.

He’d like to be the guy in goal when the Oilers end what is now a six-game losing streak with only two wins to show for their last 16 games.

“I thought we took a bit step in playing for 60 minutes. That’s all the fans here are asking, to play the way we played tonight. As long as we’re working hard and busting our butts.”

It’s about that 60 minute thing. It was actually 59.

In the last minute, with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker, the Oilers broke down in front of Dubnyk beyond belief.

Dubnyk has given up last-minute goals before.

He’s kept score.

“Dallas. Detroit. Vancouver,” he said of last year.

“Against Dallas, we pulled the goalie and we scored to tie the game. Then they scored. Against Detroit they scored with .02 seconds left to win it. Against Vancouver it was with a minute and a half left on a power play.”

Dubnyk knows the deal.

If he’s ever going to get more than the odd cameo appearance other than injury appearances or a jail break, he’s going to have to prove to be so proficient that the Oilers have no choice but to develop him with regular work while they’re doing the same with the kids at the other positions in the lineup.

You don’t have to take a Gallup poll to know a significant percentage of the population is hoping that might happen.

Because of the way the Oilers have handled their goaltenders since the Oilers picked the Regina native 18th in the first round in the NHL entry draft in 2004, Dubnyk hasn’t had the kind of development a first-round draft pick goaltender could be expected to receive.

But goalies generally take a while. And at 24, the six-foot-six, 202-pound netminder has finally put himself in position for that to be possible.

“Nothing is going to be handed to you,” said the goaltender who looked like he’d became a certified NHLer when he was given every second game at the end of last season.

“You only get better by playing and learning,” he said. “When you’re playing regular, you stop worrying about anything but playing the next game.”

And last night may have been a significant step toward being around to play in his prime with much more recent first-round picks like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi when they have perhaps developed into NHL stars and the Oilers are a reach-for-the-top team.

Dubnyk stopped the first 18 shots of the game as a team which had been outscored 12-0 the previous 93 minutes, finally put some in at the other end of the ice for a 3-0 lead.

But the Coyotes fired 42 shots at him and scored three of the five in overtime.

Dubnyk doesn’t have the Ws. But coach Tom Renney gave him plenty of praise when his latest adventure had come to an end.

“He’s been really good. I just like the way he carries himself in the net.

“When he’s down, he’s upright.

“He’s got a good butterfly and real good legs. He doesn’t panic on any plays and seems to be in a good position for the second shot. He’s got a great demeanour for a goaltender.

“He’s really easy to be around but works hard at his game. I think you are seeing a young man that is getting an opportunity that he worked for.

“I’d give him a B+. There is a little bit of room to be better. He’s just got such a solid way about him.

“He’s going to be a very good goaltender in this league, I think. He’s got great assets. His number one asset is his attitude and his work habits.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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