Saturday’s edition of the “Goalie News” includes an adorable moment in Montreal, some anger and frustration in Dallas, the first win in Chicago and a rare accomplishment up in Edmonton.
Dubnyk Makes a New Friend in Montreal
The Minnesota Wild have been a disaster to start the 2019-20 season. They are dead last in the National Hockey League with just two points after a 1-6-0 start. The normally dependable Devan Dubnyk has struggled early on, which has been a major factor in the lack of results.
Dubnyk has lost all five of his starts so far and has posted a 4.44 goals-against average (GAA) and .867 save percentage (SV%). These numbers are far below his career averages of a 2.56 GAA and .916 SV%. The 33-year-old netminder got the night off Thursday when the Wild were at the Bell Centre to take on the Montreal Canadiens.
Like all visiting backup goaltenders at the Bell Centre, Dubnyk had to sit near the entrance to the rink instead of on the bench with his teammates. He hasn’t let his slow start get him down because, during the game, he made friends with a young Canadiens fan and even let him try on his helmet!
A pretty cool moment indeed! Unfortunately, that would be the only cool moment of the night for the Wild as they lost to the Canadiens, 4-0.
Khudobin Vents His Frustration
Speaking of teams who are off to infuriating starts, the team that used to play in Minnesota, the Dallas Stars, have tied their franchise record for the worst start to a season. After Friday night’s 4-2 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Stars have lost five games in a row and are 1-7-1 on the season.
Head coach Jim Montgomery had plenty to say after the defeat and wondered why more players on his team didn’t play with the same passion as goaltender Anton Khudobin did.
“If I had the answer, we’d be doing it right now, right?” he told reporters after the game. “You can’t drive passion into people. You can try everything. You can try motivational tactics. You can try everything, but it has to come from within. Ultimately, if there’s a puck between you and I, I’d bite your leg off to get it. That’s the attitude you have to have. Anton had that competitive spirit tonight that we need to permeate throughout our lineup.”
Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas News asked Khudobin about his coach’s comments and he gave some brutally honest answers. He told DeFranks that he feels the team isn’t angry enough right now. He was asked how the team could get angrier and he did not sugar coat his answer.
“Just getting tired of losing. That’s how,” Khudobin said. “What else can you say? We just got another L, <expletive>, I don’t know. We just have to keep going and do something.”
The Stars can try and right the ship later on this evening when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lehner Gets His First W in Chicago
Robin Lehner was a Vezina Trophy finalist last spring, but he found himself a bit overlooked when free agency hit on July 1. To the surprise of many, he was only able to land a one-year contract from the Chicago Blackhawks and he is making the best of the situation.
After suffering a hard-luck overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets in his Chicago debut last week, he picked up his first win in a Blackhawks sweater with a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night.
Lehner made 37 saves, including quite a few big stops in the third period. He has a 2.47 GAA and .931 SV% in his first two starts with the Blackhawks. His performance got some high praise from his captain.
“I thought [Lehner] played great tonight,” said Jonathan Toews, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime. “Especially in that first period, could’ve been 3 or 4-0 early on, so he made some big stops — couple 2-on-1s, couple breakaways, and he was standing tall there.”
Koskinen is in Very Good Company
The Edmonton Oilers have to be the biggest surprise during the first couple of weeks of the 2019-20 season. The team tried to change the culture by bringing in Ken Holland and Dave Tippett during the offseason and it seems to have worked so far.
The Oilers are 7-1-0 and are sitting atop the NHL with 14 points. The offense is getting much of the attention with Connor McDavid leading the league in scoring with 17 points and James Neal pacing the NHL with nine goals. However, goaltender Mikko Koskinen is deserving of some of the spotlight.
With his victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, Koskinen has won each of his first four starts this season; something that has only been done one other time in franchise history.
So how did that 1983-84 season end for Andy Moog and the Oilers? They won the first Stanley Cup in team history.