The newcomer to the Nashville Predators’ net posted a 5.09 goals-against average and a .828 save percentage in his Tennessee debut, a 5-4 home loss to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday.
The Predators traded forward Matt Henrdicks to Edmonton to bolster their goaltending situation on Jan. 15, but were underwhelmed by the condition of their new acquisition’s game.
“We got Devan from Edmonton, and what we realized very quickly was that Devan has a lot of… I’ll say bad habits he’s picked up this year,” Predators coach Barry Trotz told Nashville radio station 94.9 Game2 on Wednesday. “We started him at home, and you could really see he was out of sync in his game, so we wanted to spend some time with him working with [goaltending coach] Mitch Korn, just being able to get his game in order.”
With star netminder Pekka Rinne dealing with a hip infection that has sidelined him for the bulk of the season, Nashville had been relying on the inexperienced goaltending tandem of Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton. Trotz explained the team has had to make adjustments to strengthen its team defence in all areas of the ice with Rinne out. In comes Dubnyk, 27, who arrived with a record of 11-17-2 with two shutouts, a 3.36 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage.
On its club website, Nashville states that its philosophy is to build the Preds “from the goaltender out,” and goalie guru Korn has been given credit for helping turn Rinne into a two-time Vezina Trophy nominee.
Korn explained working on Dubnyk’s game to Trotz this way: “It’s like trying to fuel up in an IndyCar race but there’s no pit stops.”
“Devan’s first start wasn’t great,” Trotz said. “I don’t want to throw him under the bus. He’s got to be a lot better. He’s a veteran hockey player in the National Hockey League. I felt that three of the five goals were very stoppable in this league. It wasn’t a great game for him, but at the same time it was his first game, first trade, new city, so we’re getting used to him and he’s getting used to us.”
Nashville’s next game is Thursday in Vancouver. The team has yet to announce its starter.