February 26 2011 11:34PM
Over 24 games played this season, Devan Dubnyk has posted a 0.910 save percentage and that has driven an 8-8-7 record on a woeful Oilers team. That performance has given him a leg up on basically every other goaltender in the system, as his competition (Khabibulin, Deslauriers) have struggled since the opening puck drop of 2010-11.
Is it a mirage?
Perhaps, perhaps not. There is, however, a disturbing trend in Dubnyk’s last 10 games that combined with his 2009-10 performance should raise questions:
- Last 10: 0.890 SV%
- Previous 14: 0.922 SV%
- 19 GP, 2009-10: 0.889 SV%
- Career: 0.901 SV%
There are all sorts of ways to look at the data, and by considering the 2010-11 season as a whole and ignoring Dubnyk’s 2009-10 numbers, we get the impression he’s a quality NHL goaltender. Laying the numbers out the way I have here, it’s easy to get the idea that Dubnyk is a 0.900 SV%-quality goaltender who had a run of about a dozen games where he caught fire.
Let’s try it another way. The following chart shows five-game rolling averages from the start of Dubnyk’s career; i.e. each data point after the initial five games is Dubnyk’s average performance over the last five contests:
That red line represents a save percentage of 0.911 – the average for an NHL starter. Dubnyk started the year well above that line but in the last 20 games has spent more time below than above it. His overall numbers haven’t suffered that badly simply because he had such a great start.
To go back to the question posed at the opening: is Dubnyk's 0.910 SV% a mirage? Is he a lousy goalie on a hot streak or a blue-chipper on a lousy team? I don't honestly know the answer. Projecting goaltenders is like witchcraft, except without the danger of burning at the stake.
I do know this: Dubnyk's overall numbers don't tell the story of how he has played recently, and like a few other young goaltenders he will probably get the benefit of the doubt based on that early run. Certainly that's the most sensible course of action for the Oilers: Dubnyk's a young player they probably don't have a great read on, the team's going nowhere this year and it's not like Khabibulin's been anything special. I just wouldn't be willing to count on him, yet.