After almost 27 years on the planet, much of it spent blocking frozen rubber in the goal crease, Devan Dubnyk has arrived at the place he’s longed to be – the clear-cut No. 1 goaltender with a NHL team, namely the Edmonton Oilers. I suspect he intends to stay awhile.

For Dubnyk, as with every player, his road to the NHL has been a journey intersected by preparation, motivation and opportunity. The first two don’t mean much without the third. The third is often wasted without the first two. We’ve seen that unfold a time or two.

Dubnyk, now in his seventh pro season, had the preparation and motivation angles pretty well covered, and after biding his time and staking his claim the past couple of seasons behind Nikolai Khabibulin, head coach Ralph Krueger assured him the window of opportunity was wide open, essentially telling him last summer the crease was his.

Armed with a vote of confidence every player wants and needs, is it any surprise Dubnyk is playing the best hockey of his career as he steps between the pipes for his ninth straight start against the Vancouver Canucks tonight?


"It doesn’t change the way you approach a game because obviously you have to keep doing the things you do to prepare, but at the same time, it allows you to worry about that and only that," Dubnyk said.

"You don’t have to worry about ‘I don’t feel good tonight’ or ‘what if tonight doesn’t go well?’ All you have to worry about is ‘Maybe I don’t feel good tonight, but I’m going to find a way to go play because that’s all I have to worry about.’

"Ralph communicated that with me right away, during the summer. It’s a great vote of confidence. It’s that vote of confidence, after a game like San Jose, that the next game you go right back out and play. I don’t have to worry about what Ralph is thinking of me, or about the coaching staff. I’m confident in that and I can prepare for the next game and not think about when I’m going to get back in there."

That might have not been the case two years ago, or even last season, had Dubnyk been lit up by the Sharks as he was in the second game this season. Would he have been thrown right back in? Maybe. Maybe not. Even with the tough go against San Jose skewing his numbers, Dubnyk faces the Canucks with a 4-3-1 record, a 2.53 GAA and a .925 saves percentage.


Dubnyk paid his dues with Wilkes-Barre and Springfield of the AHL and Stockton of the ECHL for parts of four seasons. He got into 19 games with the Oilers in 2009-10, 35 in 2010-11 and 47 last season, going 20-20-3 with a 2.67 GAA and a .914 saves percentage on a 29th-place team as he moved up the organizational pecking order and, eventually, surpassed Khabibulin.

Still, questions were asked and questions remain, even it’s been abundantly clear for some time Dubnyk was a better option than a faded Khabibulin. Is Dubnyk a "legitimate" No. 1 goaltender? Can he be the go-to guy? That, we don’t know for sure yet – at least not beyond any doubt. That said, he’s damn sure looked like a reasonable facsimile so far this season, no?

"It’s my job to make sure it’s the right decision to put me in every night," Dubnyk told me this morning. "I want to continue to do that. It kind of keeps you sharp. You approach every single game where you don’t just want to be given the start, you want to deserve to be starting.

"The benefit is having the opportunity to get right back in there if you don’t play great, but I want to make sure there’s a good reason I’m starting every night. It’s big enough to get the opportunity, but you have to be ready for it when it comes.

"So many things have to go right, and when you get that chance, you have to make good with it. If you’re lucky enough to get it and you’re not ready for it, then it doesn’t matter. "

"Looking back, at the time you don’t realize how many things you have to go through, how many things have to go right. All the things you learn, it’s a huge process to get to where I am right now. It’s a nice feeling to know you’ve worked and gone through all that for a reason. I truly believe going through all that has made me who I am today."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

    • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

      Pretty brave there Cowboys, I sense the “wrath of Brownlee” will be visited upon yourself shortly.

      I always hope the headlines in the paper the next day after Dubnyk blanks the fLames read:


      * That’d be one he!! of a joint**

      ** or so I’ve heard

  • RexLibris

    I remember making my mind up around February of 2010, watching Dubnyk and Deslauriers go back and forth in net while Khabibulin was injured, that Dubnyk looked like the eventual starter. He never won, but his play was more consistent and the goals he let in were of a better quality than Deslauriers.

    By all accounts he is one heck of a good, calming presence in the dressing room as well.

    If he never seems to get the respect he ought to from outside Edmonton, then so be it. He’s likely to get it here, soon enough.

  • BK

    So far not bad!, considering the ” Cirque de Defense” around him. He has done better than I expected thus far. With the short season and limited rest inbetween games, will really test him to the limit. Still need a strong back up, and yet with the 8 or so guys lined up on the runway , there is not much to get excited about. But it takes time for goalies to develop, so hopefully one out the bunch will graduate to the big’s.

  • RexLibris

    I’m surprised nobody has suggested Dubnyk’s nickname be Melman from Madagascar, in keeping with the Giraffe theme from his mask.

    But that could also be why I’ve never been one to invent creative player nicknames.

  • Con-Air McDavid

    With goalies confidence is everything and sometimes they need more TLC to get them through the tough spots.

    I agree that his time has come and the Oilers having no other options in goal probably helped him………good for Krueger sticking with him!

    Now all we need is one more tough SOB like Fistric clearing the front of the net.

  • Tsnivek

    Dubnyk is progressing well, with great goaltending you can can make a team look better then it is.

    Oilers are a young soft team that is getting better. Hopefully they will make some moves so they can compete in the playoffs.

    Sam would look good in an Avalanche jersey.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Ive almost always had the confidence in Dubnyk, this guy turned a few heads when he was chosen over Deslauriers. A westernboy chosen over a goalie from the Quebec goalie factory? Krueger is playing this team exactly the way they should be played. Renney was way too worried about line matching and what not and strategy and it got him nowhere.

    His handling of Doobey was especially enraging, playing Boozin over Doobey on a 29th place team? Dubnyk has earned his spot and it looks like we have our homegrown number one. Hes taken his time and it looks as if though he has finally arrived. *I am going to go ahead and take credit for the Doooooob chants. At a game vs Vancouver I started itto combat the Lou chants and it seems to have stuck. That was the night Kesler flopped in OT which led to the eventual winner on the PP.

    • *I am going to go ahead and take credit for the Doooooob chants. At a game vs Vancouver I started itto combat the Lou chants and it seems to have stuck. That was the night Kesler flopped in OT which led to the eventual winner on the PP.”

      You invented the internet and started Starbuck’s as well, right? Those chants pre-date Dubnyk’s time in Edmonton. Started in Kamloops more than 10 years ago.

      • BK

        Im sorry, I’m going to have to take credit for the Dooooob chants. I had a flashback of a concert one night when he was in goal. I only heard China Grove in my head, and I started the chant.

        Oh yeah, I also might have kinda designed the old 3rd Oiler’s logo with the 5 rivets, but that’s another story.

    • Tsnivek

      Internet and Dooooooob chant creation mythology not withstanding, I have to agree with comments on Coach K’s handling of netminding and most other issues requiring attention on this team. Calm leadership Renney gave us but not coupled with patience and accountability like Kreuger is demonstrating. I’m a realist, we arent going to make a 8-10 place jump in conference this year but we are on the right road IMHO (in my humble opinion).

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    He’s been our MVP so far this season. He’s been a huge part of most of our wins and he seems to be getting better each game. I’ve always liked the guy and hoped he would succeed so it’s certainly nice to see him building a career here.

  • RexLibris

    He is, other than one period, top 5 in the league right now IMO. Showing it again tonight. I was at the game in Denver, he kept us in it for a long time where we shouldn’t have been.

  • RexLibris

    The guy faced 40 shots but he let in two “soft goals” as Willis writes in the other blog tonight. Say what you will, he’s a nice number 2 goalie in my books at this time. Those are two goals that he shoulda coulda stopped.

  • BK

    Dubnyk made enough great stops to make up for the softies. Doobie has surprised me this season, if he keeps up this level of play, the Oilers might just make the playoffs. Edmonton had no business being in this game and Luongo was in the zone again. Hall could have won the game and choked big time. And the Oilers need to learn how to win a face-off.

    • RexLibris

      The guy shoulda coulda stopped both those two softies. If he stops even one of the softies then the Oilers win. Hall had a great game and I don’t think he choked but it wasn’t a superlative penalty shot either. The Nuge is looking pretty small out there recently. Krueger is probably gonna have to mix up the lines just like they did in OKC. We need to get some size in our top six and some meanness in the rest of the lineup. Man we look like pussies some of the time. Any opposing team would love to play the Oil because their gonna have easy night. The NHL is not suppose to be like this in my books.

      • RexLibris

        Coulda, shoulda . . .

        Three goals on 40 shots isn’t the problem, period. The Oilers were outplayed in every area of the ice and that game is 5-2 or 6-2 if Dubnyk isn’t as good as he was. Get a grip. Common sense my eye.

        • The Soup Fascist

          The outstanding all star goalies don’t just keep teams in a game but they also have the ability to steal some games. Yes the Dubber made some big saves but he didn’t make the save when it counted. Fuhr let in some bad goals but he had the ability to make the save when it needed to be made. But then again Dubber is not Fuhr.

  • RexLibris

    You can NOT give up 80 shots in two games and expect much better than what we are seeing. Thats a 0.9375 FFS….The game in CO was a defensive joke. This one was much better play by EDM but you just can not give up that many pucks

  • The Soup Fascist

    Dubnyk is playing very well so far this year and he has to if edmonton wants to go anywhere this year,he has some stiff compitition ,Loungo,Kipper,Quick,to name a few.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        At a .925 S%, he belongs in that conversation. Hopefully he finishes this season there, or better. Not sure if the later half of games this season will matter, but as seasons go by, the games should have more significance. If not this season, next season will be hockey that matters.