It’s long been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Devan Dubnyk, however, would beg to differ.
The Wild goaltender is a fierce advocate of staying the course even in tough times, an approach that was rewarded Wednesday when he was chosen to play in the NHL All-Star Game for the third time. And what’s good for him, he believes, is good for his scoring-starved, victory-deprived team as it begins a four-game road trip Thursday at Toronto.
Dubnyk said it’s always a little bit surprising to be selected for the All-Star Game. It’s something that “had never been on the radar’’ before he was traded to the Wild from Arizona nearly four years ago, but the Jan. 26 game in San Jose will mark his third appearance. Dubnyk has a goals-against average of 2.62 and save percentage of .912 this season, and he is fourth in the NHL with 1,765 minutes played.
“When you’re even considered, it’s an honor,’’ he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun in the past and feel proud to get a chance to do it again.
“It was pretty surreal getting named to the first one. Even now, it still feels a little surreal. To get recognized and get to go feels really good.’’
Dubnyk will be the Wild’s lone representative at the All-Star Game on Jan. 26 in San Jose. He’ll be on the 10-man Central Division team; he also played in 2016 and 2017.
Dubnyk, 32, is third in the league with 31 games played, but 17th in the NHL in goals-against average (2.62), 21st in save percentage (. 912) and 14th in victories (13).
Each team must be represented at the All-Star Game.
The Central Division forwards are Patrick Kane of Chicago, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen of Colorado, Ryan O’Reilly of St. Louis, and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Defensemen are Miro Heiskanen of Dallas and Roman Josi; goalies are Dubnyk and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.
The All-Star captains, based on fan balloting, were announced on Dec. 27. They are Toronto’s Auston Matthews (Pacific), MacKinnon, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (Pacific) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan). Ovechkin said Wednesday that he would skip the game, which is an automatic one-game suspension.
Mikael Granlund (11 goals-26 assists-37 points) and Zach Parise (17-16-33) are the Wild’s top-scoring forwards; Granlund is seventh in Central Division scoring.
Parise is one of seven Central Division players up for the league’s “Last Men In” promotion, an online fan vote that begins Thursday.
Matt Dumba led NHL defensemen with 12 goals when he was injured Dec. 15; he is expected to miss most of the rest of the season after surgery for a torn right pectoral.
The NHL All-Star rosters are here.
Headed on the road
The Wild remains one of the better defensive teams in the NHL, ranking eighth with a goals-against average of 2.82. After scraping together only 30 goals in the past 13 games, though, it could be tempting to try to spark some scoring by straying from the team’s usual style. Dubnyk is as frustrated about the drought as anyone, but he agreed with coach Bruce Boudreau that doing the same things — no matter how difficult that might seem — gives the Wild its best chance of digging out.
“There’s always room to improve,’’ Dubnyk said. “But we’re playing a pretty good brand of hockey right now that should have success if we keep putting it out there.
“As far as how we’re generating and the way guys are working, you just don’t want to change that. You start taking away from that to try to create a one-off chance that you might score on, and then the game opens up. It goes against what we’re trying to do in here. It’s a lot more difficult to do than it is to say, but it’s what we have to concentrate on.’’
Boudreau that message in a Wednesday practice at Tria Rink. With 12 games over the next 21 days, he sees ample opportunity before the All-Star break to make up ground in the standings.
The fact that the Wild continues to rack up scoring chances while maintaining stout defense is proof the system is working, Boudreau said. Despite a 4-10-1 record in the past 15 games, he is keeping an upbeat, encouraging attitude. Things in the NHL tend to run in cycles, he said, pointing out that Nashville followed eight road victories with 10 road losses, and Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine scored three goals in December after potting 18 in November.
“When you’re playing well enough to win, the thing is to make sure they understand they’re doing the right things,’’ Boudreau said. “It’s just, ‘Keep on doing what you’re doing.’ Eventually, if you keep working this hard and doing the right things, it’s going to turn, and you’re going to score.’’
Parise acknowledged the players are frustrated by getting so little payoff for their efforts. Working hard is not enough, he said, adding that the Wild must find a way to create goals and create victories while working within its system.
Teammates Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker concurred. Doing the same things, they said, does not mean doing nothing different at all. There are small adjustments that can be made, such as showing more grit around the net, snaring rebounds and relying more on instinct.
“Doing what we’re doing is getting us, ‘Oh, we’re playing well,’’ but it’s not getting you a win,’’ Zucker said. “So we’ve got to do a little bit more.
“I think we need to mentally get out of the system. And I don’t mean get away from what it is; I’m saying within our system, let’s not be afraid to play hockey. Just get back to playing hockey and not thinking so much about what we’re doing. If we just go out there and play, the rest will take care of itself.’’
Koivu believes the Wild has enough experience to understand all these things. He rejected the easy cliché of telling the team to stay positive; it’s OK to be frustrated, he said, and essential to be realistic and constructively critical as the Wild seeks a way forward.
“We can talk about it as much as we want,’’ Koivu said. “All that matters is (getting) that two points. We’ve got to make it happen. That’s the bottom line.’’
• Boudreau said defenseman Nick Seeler, who has missed two games because of an upper-body injury, “looks like he’s good to go’’ for Thursday’s game.