EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Playoff hockey near the end of summer in a bubble is new for Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.
So is the uncertainty about whether he’ll be the team’s Game 1 starter on Sunday, a question that never popped up before in his Wild tenure.
“It’s different,” Dubnyk said Monday on a video conference call from the team’s hotel in Edmonton. “I’ve just tried to show up and be ready to go and concentrate on getting my game where it needs to be and just competing. We kind of knew that this was going to be the situation coming into camp, so I didn’t want to go home and lose any sleep over it.
“I just wanted to come in and compete as much as I could and be ready to play if called upon, and I think that’s the same for Al. So, we’ll see.”
Ever since he swooped in during the 2014-15 season to help resurrect the team after getting traded from Arizona, Dubnyk has been in the Wild’s crease come playoff time. But after backup Alex Stalock usurped the No. 1 job before the regular season paused in March, the team reconvened with the position up for grabs.
“It’s a constant evaluation of everybody,” coach Dean Evason said. “We are watching.”
The Wild, which starts a best-of-five play-in series against Vancouver on Sunday, will treat its exhibition game Wednesday vs. Colorado like a real game.
“As long as we’re winning, regardless of who’s in the net, I think we’re both going to support each other extremely well,” Dubnyk said. “It’s short. It’s quick, especially at the start here, so both of us have got to be ready to perform if called upon.”
Although Dubnyk used to play for the Oilers, he forgot how long the days are in Edmonton in July and August — a summertime reality he was reacquainted with during his first evening in the bubble.
“It was nice to sit in the room and enjoy the sunset last night,” he said.
The team’s Sunday arrival into Edmonton felt like a normal road trip to defenseman Carson Soucy, who grew up a couple hours outside of Edmonton, but he expects the vibe will change in a few weeks.
“I know a few friends that are kind of checking out the bubble right now,” Soucy said. “My brother is in town. It’s weird. They are sending me pictures of stuff from outside [the bubble], and I can’t really go out and see them. That’s kind of weird. [But] it’s still comforting knowing I’m back home and close to family.”
Defenseman Matt Dumba is the Wild’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which honors the player who exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has contributed to his community.
Dumba not only helped create the Hockey Diversity Alliance earlier this year and continue his partnership with Athletes Committed to Educating Students, but he also launched a fundraiser to support the Lake Street Council and its initiative to Rebuild Lake Street.