Twelve consecutive starts for Devan Dubnyk is nothing compared to his 38 in a row for the Wild last season, which is only part of the reason coach Mike Yeo isn’t worried about the goalie’s workload.
“Our schedule’s been pretty light,” Yeo said. “Things will change for us once we get into December and January, it’s going to be real hectic. We’ve been playing every second day at the most, so it’s been pretty easy for him to maintain.”
Dubnyk and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne are the only NHL goalies to start all but two games this season. On Saturday against the Wild, Rinne started his second game in consecutive nights.
“I’ve seen more and more teams doing it where they’re playing their [starter] back to back,” Yeo said. “The way the league is right now, you never have a game where you’re playing a team and saying, ‘OK, we should definitely get this win’ … but when you look at the standings of what happens with one win, one loss, teams are making different decisions because of that, and teams are taking a different strategy toward how they work their starting goalies.”
The Wild plays Friday and Saturday against Winnipeg and Dallas, but it’s not a traditional back-to-back. The games are both home, meaning no travel, and one’s at 3 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m., meaning extra rest.
So it’s no guarantee Darcy Kuemper, yanked in his last (and second) start Oct. 25, even plays this weekend.
Dubnyk doesn’t mind starting every game.
“It’s fine by me,” he said. “Any time I end up actually not playing, I wish I was playing anyway. I’ll play as much as I can and as much as Mike wants to put me in. I’ll just try to keep giving him a reason.”
Yeo gives Dubnyk plenty of chances to take days off.
“That allows you to mentally stay fresh when you play a lot of games,” Dubnyk said.
Dubnyk’s second child (another son) is due Dec. 4, so “hopefully the baby comes on a non-gameday so we don’t have to stop [the start streak],” he said. “If I’m not here one day, that’s most likely why. … My wife just wants to make sure he comes while I’m here.”
The Wild is scheduled to be in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday and leaves Dec. 6 for Denver.
Yeo mistakenly thought the stomach bug and strep throat that have affected his players were gone. Jordan Schroeder couldn’t play Wednesday because of illness. The team called up Christoph Bertschy to play his third game.
“What I like is through this stretch we haven’t made any excuses,” Yeo said. “Regardless of who’s in the lineup, we think we have a capable group here.”
Kurtis Gabriel also played his second NHL game. He logged 2 minutes, 41 seconds in his first one Nov. 10.
“Every time I come up, I feel that much more comfortable,” Gabriel said. “This time it feels like just like a regular hockey game to be honest. I prepare the same way and I’m comfortable with my surroundings. Every second I get out there is going to help me in the long run and prepare me for future opportunities.”
Zach Parise (sprained knee) skated with the team Wednesday morning, and there’s a strong possibility he’ll practice Thursday.
Tyler Graovac (abdominal surgery) is skating on his own, but he’s expected to be out until at least mid-December.