"Ho there, Brafton. How 'bout those Dallas Stars, what?"
"I say, Jessebell-Coburn, it seems as if their insufficiencies in the depart of defense somewhat preclude their potential as playoff aggressors, wouldn't you say?"
"Ah, but not so broad as all that. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I've had myself the most vivid of nightmares lately in which the hockey club in question show themselves more than capable of successfully 'goaling' upon their opponents as they say, whilst their own twine-backed containers find themselves littered with the most repugnant of contents."
"Truly harrowing, my good man."
"Yes, yes, Freudian implications and all that. Never you mind the substance; what I mean to say is, here lies one club in possession of all but the most critical of components for the purposes of achieving victory at day's end."
"That missing item being...?"
*time warp back to present, also that got old fast*
Anyhow, goaltending. Hey, is Devan Dubnyk the cure to the Stars' woes?
While it’s nearly impossible for there to be a one player cure-all for every team, which Devan Dubnyk seemingly has been for the Wild, it’s not as if the Stars would have needed a Dubnykian performance from their netmidners this season. In fact, just passable goaltending likely would have been enough to put the Stars into wild-card contention and the same will likely be true next year.
When it comes to shot attempts, including those that are blocked, Dallas has controlled a similar amount of the play. Per 60 minutes of 5-on-5, they muster 60.9 attempts, behind only the Islanders (61.6). Defensively, though, they’re 25th with 57.2 attempts against per 60. Combined, Dallas gets 51.6 percent of the attempts, a healthy percentage.
Where do the Wild come in? At 5-on-5, Minnesota ranks four spots ahead of Dallas for seventh in unblocked shot attempts percentage (52.7). And the two teams are tied in shot attempts percentage at 51.6. That means when it comes to run of play and possession time, Minnesota and Dallas are actually more alike than you’d expect.
So, okay. Dallas and Minnesota are very different teams, except for the part where their possession numbers total similarly. And yes, Devan Dubnyk's ridiculous run since he incepted himself into the Minnesota braintrust (I know what I said) is about as clear a contrast as you'll get when playing everyone's favorite game, "Goalie or not a Goalie?"
Would Dallas really buy into this, though?
Maybe the most interesting option of all, however, is Devan Dubnyk. With no contract extension in Minnesota and on his way to becoming an unrestricted free agent, he’ll have suitors if the Wild can’t lock him up. Could Nill go out and pitch Dubnyk on the Lone Star State? If he can turn things around for Dallas next season, underlying numbers won’t be the only similarity between the two teams.
There's a part of me that likes this idea, there really is. Visions of a Minnesota-ish GAA showing up in Dallas next year dance through my head every time I look up and see another Dubnyk victory. (Not to mention the fact that Dallas's offense really projects to be similarly explosive again next year as things stand now.)
But can Dallas really afford to bet three or four years (and at least that many million annually) that Dubnyk has been fixed for good? Or at least fixed beyond the power of the Mike Smith curse on Dallas's crease for a few years?
The leadership talked a lot about competition in camp last year when Rynnas and Lindback were brought in. If Dubnyk actually could sustain even .917-.920 SV% numbers over a season, you can be sure that Kari Lehtonen will find himself pushed about as hard as it's possible for him to be.
My only hesitance is what happened with Enroth and Lindback in their new destinations after February's trade. Again, it's just a few games (only a couple dozen fewer than Dubnyk's tenure in Minny this season), but my suspicion is that the Stars will want to be as sure as they possibly can that whatever happened to Enroth will not, not, not happen to the next goalie the Stars put in that locker room. Because as strong as Dubnyk's dark sorcery is this season, the Stars clearly have some powerful forces fighting against them this season.
* * * * *
I really, really want the Stars to drum the Blackhawks tonight. Who knows, maybe if they win, it could open up a wormhole that transports us back to the start of the season again! Quick, someone buy Nemeth some gauntlets.
Mike Heika muses that a strong finish by Lehtonen (who is on a pretty nice 13-game run, by the way) could go a long way toward Jim Nill's decision-making this summer. [DMN]
John Klingberg is stealing a little bit of thunder from Ekblad's Calder case, as you may already know. [Puck Daddy]
"Despite seeing his GAA go up from 2.41 to 2.87 this season and seeing his save percentage drop from .919 to .906, Lehtonen actually has the chance to post a better record than last season. He is 30-14-10 this year after going 33-20-10 last season." [DMN]
Devan Dubnyk is worth an extension, says Ryan Lambert. [Puck Daddy]
P.K. Subban has received his second fine (and third offense) for diving. [CBC]
Jaromir Jagr finds himself on Justin Bourne's list of the players he most wants to visit a pub with. Fun stuff here. [The Score]
Anders Lindback on his time in Dallas: two weeks or more between starts and too many odd-man rushes. Lots more in this interview. [Puck Daddy]
Henrik Lundqvist peaced out of practice to be with his pregnant wife. Correct decision. [NHL]
Brian Costello of the Hockey News has a wonderful piece about his memories of the late Matthew Wuest, founder of CapGeek. [THN]
Sean McIndoe: the coach's challenge is coming to the NHL, and you won't like it. [Grantland]
Finally, football, but it's pertinent given all the advanced stats dialogue this season: John Urschel writes about his master's degree in math, his chess aspirations, and why he loves hitting other NFL players. [Players Tribune]