Dubnyk's patience paying off with Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:38 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — Tom Renney was non-committal about the future deployment of Devan Dubnyk.

But judging by the goaltender’s performance in San Jose on Thursday, and his recent history in Los Angeles, there’s a good chance he could be in net against the Kings on Saturday.

If not, at the very least, he should get the start the next night in Anaheim against the Ducks.

“I’m happy with what I’m playing,” Dubnyk said following his 41-save performance in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. “Coming into the year, I had no idea what was going to happen. I’m still young and I still have to earn everything I’m going to get. I’m excited every chance I get to play and I’ll keep making the best of it every time, whether I’m playing once a week, twice a week or once a month.”

After sitting for a week, Dubnyk wasn’t exactly eased into the contest against the Sharks. Having lost five straight going into the game, San Jose came out to try and put the Oilers away early.

However, the second-year goaltender turned away all 14 shots he faced in the opening frame, allowing the Oilers to get out of the period up by a goal due to Andrew Cogliano’s marker.

“Pretty much anywhere on the road you know the home team is going to come out hard,” said Dubnyk “It’s pretty important to be ready and hold them at bay and counter when you get the opportunities.”

Dubnyk has played the last two games in Los Angeles for the Oilers.

He was outstanding in a 4-3 shootout win last season, turning aside 52 shots in the contest. This year, Dubnyk made 27 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss.

Dubnyk started the season battling for the backup spot with Jeff Deslauriers behind starter Nikolai Khabibulin.

To get the job he beat out Deslauriers, who was sent down to play with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Since then, Dubnyk has been riding shotgun, biding his time waiting for an opportunity to play. And when he does get a chance, the Regina native has made the most of it.

“He’s been great for us all year,” said Oilers rookie Taylor Hall. “He’s not a goalie that just has lucky nights or anything like that. I shoot on this guy every day in practice and he’s a great goalie. He’s someone that we’re really going to be leaning on in the future here, he’s great.”

Selected in the first round — 14th overall — of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Dubnyk was projected to one day become the Oilers starter.

The team was patient with his development, allowing him the time to grow in the minors before brining him up to play in the NHL.

That patience seems to be paying dividends for the 24-year-old, who now boasts a 4-3-5 record and had better goaltending numbers than Khabibulin, who’ll have two years left on his contract following this season.

If Dubnyk continues to play the way he has this season, odds are good he’ll be the starter by then.

He was the main reason the Oilers were able to get out of San Jose with a win, which was only the team’s second victory in its last 11 games — both won by Dubnyk.

“Devan was solid,” said Renney. “He made a couple of little errors with the puck, in terms of rims and that short game if you will. Usually he’s pretty good at that, but that also is a function of our defencemen talking to him, being in the right place.

“Certainly he looked big in the net and I didn’t see any rebounds and that’s a big thing.”

Notes: The Oilers decided to take Friday off, having to play three games in four nights on this current road trip. Following their contest against the Kings Saturday, they’ll head down to Anaheim for the third meeting against the Ducks this season. The last time they were in Anaheim, the Oilers skated away with a 4-2 win.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


Videos

Photos