For better or for worse, the Edmonton Oilers will get Devan Dubnyk back from an ankle injury when they take on the Florida Panthers tonight. While no one is going to confuse the Panthers for the Chicago Blackhawks, they still have players that can produce some chances, and stopping pucks hasn’t been Dubnyk’s strong suit this year.
Edmonton’s defense hasn’t been good in front of him, and he hasn’t been able to bail the Oilers out when they make mistakes.
Regardless of the kind of support (or lack thereof) that Dubnyk has been receiving, it’s tough to sell yourself as a No. 1 goalie in this league with a GAA that exceeds 4.00 and a sub-.900 save percentage. To put that in perspective, the Carolina Hurricanes are currently leaning on their third-string goalie in Justin Peters.
Peters—who has never amounted to much more than an OK AHL netminder—is sporting a better GAA and save percentage than Dubnyk despite having lost five consecutive games for the ‘Canes.
That’s how bad Dubnyk has been this season.
At least Carolina can hide behind the injury bug excuse. Dubnyk is supposed to me the man in Edmonton, and he’s been anything but through the first month of the season. If the Oilers want to have a chance of turning things around and cashing in on their enormous potential, everyone is going to have to begin pulling their weight.
The forwards need to backcheck, the defenders need to bother with the details and Dubnyk needs to stop a puck every now and again. There are few teams that will provide less of a challenge offensively than the Panthers though, so this could be his chance to get back on track.
Regardless, Edmonton doesn’t have anyone capable of taking over in the crease, so it’s Dubnyk or die at this point for the Oilers.