2017 Playoff Preview: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jake Allen
At my day job, I was given the task of coming up with three X factors for the St. Louis-Minnesota series – and for me, one of the biggest ones was the goaltending showdown.
Devan Dubnyk has been consistently great for the Minnesota Wild over the last three seasons, but he’s cooled off considerably this spring. Jake Allen is trying to prove he deserves the number one role he was given this year.
If there’s a series that may pull out some of the best goaltending in the playoffs, this may be it.
(statistics via Corsica Hockey)
The former Edmonton Oilers starter may very well be this year’s Vezina winner.
He’s walking away from his 2016-17 season with a .923 save percentage in all situations, a 40-19-5 record through 65 games, and five shutouts.
Over the last few months, though, he’s taken a major dip. Dubnyk’s even strength save percentage from February 1st to the end of the season was just a .906, and his high danger numbers in that frame fell below a .700 in 5 vs 5 play. He wasn’t getting the tough saves, he was underperforming in the team’s regular situations, and now he’s got to rebound for the playoffs with no room for error.
The good news is that the 30-year-old starter has the kind of resilience to pull this off.
Some tweaking during his time under Sean Burke in Arizona saw him pull his game firmly within the blue paint, and he’s developed a better arsenal for tracking work. There’s a lot to like about his game as the Wild head into the postseason.
Where Dubnyk started the year standing tall and fell in February, Allen did quite literally the polar opposite.
In his first year for St. Louis without Brian Elliott as his tandem partner, the 26-year-old starter struggled immensely once the Blues hit the late November and early December mark in the season.
His numbers following the dismissal of goaltending coach Jim Corsi would have put him in the Vezina contention, though.
Ultimately, Allen walked away from his 2016-17 campaign with a 33-20-5 record in 61 regular season appearances, boasting a .915 save percentage in all situations and four shutouts.
While Dubnyk was posting his .906 even strength save percentage from February on, though, Allen’s numbers in the same situation were a .944. He was excellent in all danger situations, and sat considerably above the league average for goals saved.
Allen has been noted as an active participant in the team’s breakout strategy in the past, and it’s been noted that Brodeur may have helped him get back inside his own head after his tough stretch.
There’s less consistency to his numbers than Dubnyk’s, but he’s coming in hot – if there’s an underdog with the potential for a success story, here it is.