Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Oilers Dubnyk looks to be Canada's No.2
Heading into the 2013 IIHF World Championship, Edmonton Oilers netminder Devan Dubnyk looked to have a realistic shot at earning the job as Team Canada's starter. He would definitely have some competition for the spot from Phoenix Coyotes starter Mike Smith but the opportunity was there to be taken. Unfortunately for the Oilers tender, he did not make the most of the opportunity and looks as though he will be headed for another turn as Canada's #2 at crunch time.
Making his third consecutive trip to the World Championship, Dubnyk had earned the right to get the call in the tournament opener. While Smith did carry the Coyotes deep into the 2012 NHL Playoffs, he was coming off an inconsistent campaign in 2013 and was making his first appearance wearing a Team Canada jersey. At the end of the day, that start ultimately hurt the former fourteenth overall selection's chances at earning shot at driving the bus during the elimination round.
As expected, head coach Lindy Ruff decided to use a goalie rotation throughout the preliminary round, leaving Dubnyk four starts to Smith's three but the quality of competition was not even close. The Oilers puckstopper faced Denmark, Norway, Belarus and Slovenia, whereas Smith drew in against Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
While he struggled slightly in his debut, Smith improved with each and every start. Dubnyk on the other hand, faced just fourteen shots against Norway and all of ten, when Canada toyed with Belarus for sixty minutes. Bringing us to yesterday's start against Slovenia, in which Dubnyk allowed two first period goals on just four shots and another in the second, after Canada came back to tie it up at two.
Not exactly the impression you want to leave in your coach's mind, heading into the elimination portion of the tournament. Especially when the other guy is coming off back-to-back thirty plus save performances, in which he made a number of highlight reel stops.
Dubnyk's stat line (1.48 GAA, .913 SV%) was decent but Smith led all netminders with a .957 SV% and a minuscule 1.30 GAA through round robin play. As a coach, it is pretty hard to ignore those numbers and having Dave Tippett as part of Canada's coaching staff, makes it a no-brainer.
Devan Dubnyk may not have had the good fortune of facing some extra rubber against one of the better opponents at the 2013 World Championship but he was handed four starts to show what he could do. Had he completely shut the door in those starts, Dubnyk could have very well been Canada's go-to-guy in the quarterfinals. That did not happen and because of it, #40 will find himself stapled to the bench from here on in.