Goalie Devan Dubnyk has been nothing short of a season-saver for the Wild, catapulting the team into the playoffs after a midseason trade with Arizona and serving as the chief reason many think this team can contend for the Stanley Cup. The Wild plays Game 2 of its second-round playoff series against Chicago on Sunday night, and Dubnyk chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q You’ve talked repeatedly, almost from the get-go, about what a good fit this felt like in Minnesota. What was it that felt right about being here?
A I don’t think it was one thing. It was a combination of things, from stuff of the ice with [General Manager] Chuck [Fletcher] and [coach Mike Yeo] treating me well — how much they cared about getting me here and getting my family here and settled. And then the guys in the room, having every single guy doing everything they could to get me settled and feel comfortable. That’s a real nice feeling to have when you’re coming to a new team. Then it trickled onto the ice, when you start to get some chemistry while playing with the guys. I feel confident with them in front of me and hopefully they feel the same way. It just happened really nicely here.
Q How long did it take you to feel like this team wasn’t just good but could be special?
A To be honest, and I’ve said this before, I felt that way before I came here. I played a lot of games against this group before, and I knew it was a great hockey team. So coming here, I felt that. But I think that stretch we had right after the All-Star break, I think we won [six] in a row and got points in nine [consecutive games]. I think that was maybe when we all started to really look at it and realize we have a special group.
Q This is your first go-round in the playoffs. What did it feel like to go through that first-round series, and have the playoffs met your expectations?
A You know what, I didn’t really know what to expect. I tried not to think or expect anything. … I tried to make the picture as small as I could, approaching it like it was just another game. That certainly helped as far as nerves and being able to perform. Also, being around this group — like I said before the playoffs — this is a group that has been there recently and been there together. Having that feeling in the room like this wasn’t new to anybody, and for me having it be a new experience, it allowed me to be comfortable.
Q Chicago is the team that knocked the Wild out of the playoffs the last two years, which everyone is well aware of. Does that change the mood or approach?
A I think we’re approaching it like this is another great hockey team. It’s going to be a tough series, and it’s the same way we approached St. Louis. The thing we’ve preached all year is that when we play our best and play our game that’s when we have the most success. We fully understand that’s a dangerous group over there that’s experienced at winning this time of year and we’re going to need to be at the top of our game to win. We feel as we’ve gone forward that when we do play at the top of our game, we’re also a tough team to beat.