You don’t have to go digging too hard to find ways to illustrate how good Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been this year — since, you know, he is leading qualified NHL goalies in both save percentage (94.6) and goals against average (1.65). It’s safe to say he’s been the Wild’s MVP through the first third of the season and a prime reason Minnesota is firmly in the playoff picture.
That said, there are three stats that are a little off the beaten path that give a fuller explanation of just how good Dubnyk has been — and just how valuable he has been to the Wild. Let’s take a look:
1) Quality starts. Much like in baseball (where a quality start by a pitcher is defined by allowing three earned runs or fewer in six innings or more), this stat is imperfect. In hockey, it is defined as having a save percentage in a game that is better than the league average save percentage OR at least 88.5 percent in games in which you face 20 shots or fewer. Basically, like in baseball, it’s a way to gauge whether the goalie gave his team a decent chance to win.
Dubnyk has made 20 starts this season and has a whopping 18 quality starts. That’s the highest number in the NHL and gives him a quality start percentage of 90% — also best in the league for qualified goalies. Per Hockey Reference, a quality start percentage greater than 60 is considered good. League average is 53 percent. Dubnyk, to repeat, is at 90 percent. That’s off-the-charts good.
By comparison: of the 42 goalies last season who made at least 30 starts, the co-leaders in quality start percentage were Corey Crawford (Chicago) and Cory Schneider (New Jersey), who tied at 69.0 percent. Dubnyk was at 51.5 percent — slightly below league average.
2) Goals saved above average. This is basically the number of goals a goalie has prevented above and beyond the league average for the number of shots he has faced. Dubnyk again leads the NHL in this category with a mind-blowing 19.5 goals saved above average. The next-highest is Carey Price at 15.2. Only one other goalie is above 10.
So if you’re looking for a primary reason the Wild is leading the Western Conference in goal differential (plus-16), this is a good place to start. If Dubnyk was playing like a league average goalie, the Wild would have allowed 19.5 more goals this season (and would have a goal-differential deficit). Dubnyk finished 18th in the NHL in this stat last year at plus-5.7.
3) Clutch on the road. The Wild has played 15 of its 25 games this season on the road. Minnesota has garnered points in 10 of those 15 games, and Dubnyk is a big reason. His 35-save performance Wednesday at Toronto in a 3-2 victory (in which the road-weary Wild held on for dear life in the third period) was a prime example.
Dubnyk stopped all 17 shots in the third period, which is nothing new. Per Puckalytics, among the 27 goalies with at least 200 minutes played, Dubnyk has the second-best save percentage in 5-on-5 situations during road games that are close. Dubnyk is at 96.4 percent — a great formula for securing badly needed points.