Wild and Washington Capitals tonight at Xcel Energy Center.
I’ve spent the past couple days gathering yarn on the Caps and have ton a great stuff you’ll be reading the next few weeks. As I did during the 2012 lockout covering the Gophers, I just put the recorder next to Nate Schmidt, hit the on button and let him talk in a gazillion different directions.
Barry Trotz, as usual, and Alex Ovechkin were good, too, so get ready to read some Caps stuff.
Devan Dubnyk vs. Braden Holtby, on pace to break Martin Brodeur’s single-season win total of 48, tonight.
Holtby has one regulation loss in his past 31 games.
“It’s crazy to watch,” Dubnyk said. “He’s been a phenomenal goalie for years now, but nobody expects anybody to do what he’s doing right now. There’s a reason certain records are set the way they are because they don’t happen very often. I’m happy that he’s in the East and we’ll keep it that way. It’s always fun to see guys performing and setting the bar at the level he is.”
Dubnyk is 2-8-2 since Jan. 3. He went back to his old set of pads that he wore most of this season.
He said it wasn’t superstition or trying something different.
“We had a little bit of a malfunction yesterday, so I just went back to the old ones. The old ones weren’t that beat up,” he said. “Some stuff started breaking down on them and wasn’t really lining up properly for me, so I just felt that over the last couple days and it was an easy decision.”
Dubnyk didn’t have a very good morning skate, so maybe that’ll mean a 1-0 win tonight. I kid about that because Ilya Bryzgalov used to have the world’s worst morning skates and next thing you know, he’d be on the winning end of a shutout that night.
Statistically, Dubnyk’s numbers have been good during the Wild’s long losing skid, but the last few games, you could see cracks in the armor. Coach Mike Yeo said the other day you could see the losses were getting to Dubnyk and starting to affect his play, and Dubnyk concurred this morning.
“You do everything you can to not let it happen, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a stretch like this before. And everybody knows I’ve had a bad stretch before,” said Dubnyk.
Yeah, he was an Oiler. But I think he was talking about the stretch that landed him in the minors with Montreal.
“And it’s strange,” Dubnyk continued. “It’s strange because I feel good about my game. The last three obviously more goals have gone in, but if you look before that …, It becomes more difficult. You want to do more. You come into each game and feel like you need to be doing more. Funny thing about being a goalie is it’s a reactionary position. It’s a rare position in sports that’s 100 percent reactionary and you can only do what is given to you and what comes at you, so it’s not a good mindset to approach a game to be trying to do something. You have to stick to what you know works. Like all of us, eventually we’re going to get out of this thing.”
Jared Spurgeon won’t play tonight, meaning the Wild’s against without Jonas Brodin and Spurgeon against an explosive team.
“He’s not ready,” Yeo said. “Shooting the puck OK, but not ready to go in the corners and battle against a team that battles hard.”
Asked if he could play Saturday afternoon against Boston, Yeo said, “We’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow.”
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise didn’t skate this morning. Actually, Parise was first on, but then left when the skate began.
Yeo said the team is going back to what it did during last year’s torrid run where when it had games every second day, skating will be based on at least getting one skate in between those.
Yeo said Suter and Parise felt stronger last year skating the day before and staying off in the morning of games.
Wild’s 5-on-5 play the past two games should have been good enough to get a win at least. It’s losing because its penalty kill has been bad. Four goals against the past two games. Yeo said they better stay out of the box against the league’s best power play tonight.
Yeo said faceoffs has been a big factor on the recent PKs. They’ve given the opposition a lot of possession, and when they do clear, easy entries and haven’t recognized good pressure opportunities.
On Friday at 1:45 p.m., I will be hosting live chat on startribune.com/wild, so please join in and don’t stress me out too much.
Also, Saturday at 10 a.m. at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub, I will be flying solo during the Russo-Souhan Show during a special brunch show. Please come down and take part in the podcast. Loyal listener and participant, @Severanceguy on Twitter, is donating four alumni game tickets as a giveaway for the show, so come down for a chance to win em.