This is the perfect time to panic!

Jonathan Willis
October 12 2013 10:59PM

Devan Dubnyk has played four games for the Oilers this season. He has four losses and a 0.829 save percentage; he's probably directly cost Edmonton two wins and three points with his poor play.

What can the Oilers do about it?

Option 1: Stay The Course

The argument: Devan Dubnyk has been successful in Edmonton's net for three years now. Throwing that away over a lousy four-game stretch would be crazy. Goalies have bad runs sometimes. It's hard, but the best bet is to just ride this out rather than wasting assets bringing in a guy who isn't likely to be any better than Dubnyk is long-term.

Option 2: Jason LaBarbera

The argument: Sure, Jason LaBarbera didn't look very good in his first game for Edmonton. But he's been a darn good backup for five years now. Putting him in net gives Dubnyk a break, gives LaBarbera a chance to show whether he can handle the job, and costs nothing in terms of assets. The Oilers' play seems to have improved quite a bit; if LaBarbera can be average (and history suggests he can) that should be good enough.

Option 3: Ilya Bryzgalov

The argument: Sure, he didn't work out in Philadelphia, but this is a guy who was a Vezina candidate not that long ago. Signing in the ECHL shows he wants a North American job, and he should have plenty of motivation to prove he can still handle NHL minutes. If he can be anywhere near where he was a few years back, the Oilers will be smiling.

Option 4: The Big Trade

The argument: Edmonton's goaltending sin't good enough. Devan Dubnyk lets in soft goals and can't handle pressure; LaBarbera is a career backup. The team needs wins now, which means bringing in a new starter. Call him James Reimer, or Viktor Fasth or Ryan Miller, or whoever. The cost will be dear - nobody is giving these guys away and Edmonton's in a terrible position - but this team needs wins now and that means making a trade right now.

My Take

 

The decision was made in the summer. Maybe it was the wrong decision, but a) four games isn't enough evidence to overturn it and b) the cost of trying to overturn it is going to be very, very high. I'd be tempted to go with Jason LaBarbera against Washington, to give Dubnyk a game off and see what the backup can do; if LaBarbera plays well he stays in until he doesn't and if he plays poorly Dubnyk gets another shot. The history of both these players says they're a good enough tandem to provide NHL-average goaltending; clearly the Oilers felt at least that was possible when they made the choice this summer and there hasn't been enough evidence to overturn that decision, yet.

That's a hard decision to make; given the pressures on the team this season it's extremely difficult to see the goaltending almost single-handedly losing games. But the alternatives are either unlikely to be a good fit (Bryzgalov) or likely to be cost-prohibitive if there's any other way out. 

But it wouldn't hurt to get a feel for the goaltending market, either.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 shaner
October 12 2013, 11:03PM
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I say try Bryz, he's obviously motivated (it definitely isn't for the money). Honestly can't be worse than Dub. Plus you can probably send down labarbra without any team putting in a claim on the fringe nhler

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#2 T
October 12 2013, 11:05PM
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Bring in golie cause I'm drunk and want a good golie

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#3 T
October 12 2013, 11:05PM
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Bring in golie cause I'm drunk and want a good golie

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#4 toprightcorner
October 12 2013, 11:06PM
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2 soft goals in last minute of game to threaten a win to go to overtime.

He is guessing, not controlling and he is moving in the wrong direction if he guesses wrong.

Viktor Fasth nuff said

Stay away from Miller, bad character and stirs up the locker room, he's a virus!

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#5 teddydubbs
October 12 2013, 11:12PM
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Stay the course. I'm not buying any of this 'he's lost it and won't regain it' talk. WHEN he gets it together he'll be better for it and we will have spent 0 assets to get an NHL starter back.

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#7 TM8Trent
October 12 2013, 11:17PM
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I would play Labarbera until he costs the Oilers the game. Dubnyk is the sole reason the Oilers are not 3-2 right now.

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#8 jonny94
October 12 2013, 11:20PM
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Jonathan,

I would definitely test the market and see who/what goalie would be available, I wouldn't make a stupid trade but if there is a fair one that makes sense for both clubs I'm all for it and honestly If anyone is panicking it is clearly the bodywork of Devan Dubnyk. Sure the team as a whole has some work to do in their own end but when your team scores you 4+ goals there is no reason why we are losing. The Oilers faithful are tired of seeing constant losing and when your starter has 4 starts and is letting in this many goals it's getting hard to be optimistic.

Sure it's only 5 games in but how long is everyone willing to say this, I hope we don't get to game 15 and say well it's only 15 games and our starter is still shaky.

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#9 DSF
October 12 2013, 11:21PM
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Didn't you recently reassure us that Dubnyk is an average NHL goaltender who was good enough to carry the Oilers into the playoffs.

Do you still think so?

If so, why did you write this post?

Mea Culpa.

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#10 risto siltanen's shot
October 12 2013, 11:24PM
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another loss and bad goaltending...but i'm tired of the oilers never having a killer instinct or the skill to finish off an opponent. does this team ever score empty netters? a lot less often than getting beat by backups.if arco scores on an empty netter or someone fires a puck 200 feet into the goal without worrying about the faceoff (why if dubbie doesn't). these are the things that keep happening or NOT happening. it blows but i'm not ready to trade gold 4 garbage. let's give an andy moog a chance and see what happens.time to get lucky

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#11 risto siltanen's shot
October 12 2013, 11:24PM
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another loss and bad goaltending...but i'm tired of the oilers never having a killer instinct or the skill to finish off an opponent. does this team ever score empty netters? a lot less often than getting beat by backups.if arco scores on an empty netter or someone fires a puck 200 feet into the goal without worrying about the faceoff (why if dubbie doesn't). these are the things that keep happening or NOT happening. it blows but i'm not ready to trade gold 4 garbage. let's give an andy moog a chance and see what happens.time to get lucky

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#13 Zamboni Driver
October 12 2013, 11:25PM
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I disagree with every bit of this, ESPECIALLY the part about not playing him next game.

And I'm one who thinks Dubnyk is a borderline backup on 25 (at least) teams in the NHL.

IF you have decided this guy is your #1 you need to go back to him.

And God help us all.

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#14 james_dean
October 12 2013, 11:26PM
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A likeable guy but a results drivin type o deal here

hopefully I run into jay feaster @ royal fork buffet again tmrw and run it by him

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#15 DSF
October 12 2013, 11:29PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If only I'd answered that question within the post.

Wait, what's this I read?

The history of both these players says they're a good enough tandem to provide NHL-average goaltending; clearly the Oilers felt at least that was possible when they made the choice this summer and there hasn't been enough evidence to overturn that decision, yet.

Huh.

As for your other question: it doesn't take much listening to know that my view - the same view I expressed in my last post on the subject - isn't shared by many fans. I wrote this post to try and get a feel for which direction fans want to see the team go.

It's certainly possible my evaluation of Dubnyk is wrong; time will tell on that. But this post is entirely consistent with my previously stated views.

Also: condolences on the retirement of Kyle Wellwood.

When both your major premise and your minor premise are wrong, your conclusions doesn't have a hope in hell of being correct.

Perhaps Kyle Wellwood could strap on the pads.

He likely wouldn't be much worse.

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#16 Jmang
October 12 2013, 11:29PM
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I personally would give dub another shot. If that doesnt work. Send labarbra down (assuming he doesnt get claimed) give bachman a few starts abd a chance to prove himself again. If its horrendous sign bryz to a 1 year contract worth 1 mill to compete with dub. Send bachman back down. Run with those 2. If neither get it done. Then its big trade time.

I personally wish we picked up khudobin. Whats he make? 1 mill? but No mac t was too busy looking for face punchers. When gange is back if he doesnt play wing. I could see 4 goo lines. A third and forth line consisting or gordon arcobello yak smyth joenssu and gazdic.

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#17 Alsker
October 12 2013, 11:30PM
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With so little capspace left and Miller being a Tim Thomas look a like, QSB had mentioned Raanta on another thread...Ill take his word for it and say we go for him...Next years 1st + roster/prospect..we need goaltending now, make it happen MacT!!!!

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#18 Jmang
October 12 2013, 11:33PM
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We cant afford to risk our first. The way this is going that clould be a nathan makinnon

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#20 Serious Gord
October 12 2013, 11:36PM
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Dubnyk has NOT "been successful in Edmonton's net for three years now. "

Several fans and experts have disagreed with the "look at his save %age" argument and now it seems the soft goal chickens have come home to roost.

For MacT betting on dubnyk was the safest - least disruptive - least bold path. Sure, he tried to land a better option, but he hardly pulled out all the stops. He didn't trade gagner; he didn't buy out hemsky; he didn't take a bit of a flyer on Bryz or Thomas. He managed - as did a lot of others - to convince himself that dubnyk was enough.

Four games in that looks to be a bad bet gone completely bad.

Dubnyk could pull out of this tailspin yet but at the very least MacT needs to be firming up options. It would be inexcusable if he left it until the team is five or more points out of the playoffs on November 1. (Right now they are three points out after playing just five games)

Presumably labarbera is in against the capitals who are playing as bad or worse than the oil. They need a REAL regulation win NOW

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#21 Zamboni Driver
October 12 2013, 11:36PM
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I'm also profoundly disappointed anyone 'trashed' the loaded guy who wants a good golie.

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#22 TDSM31
October 12 2013, 11:38PM
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Thanks for the levity JW, I actually laughed out loud when I read, "I'd be tempted to go with Jason LaBarbera.."

Really???..you'd have to be tempted?

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone reading posts on Dubnyk. For the gazillianth time, HE'S NOT A NO.1 CALIBER GOALIE AND DOES NOT HAVE THE TALENT TO EVER BE ONE.

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#23 Butters
October 12 2013, 11:39PM
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Dubnyk will NOT be an 0.829 goaltender for the remainder of the year. The Oilers have lost to one divisional opponent. With average goaltending they would have curb stomped the Leafs. Not time to panic yet.

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#24 mlcsellil
October 12 2013, 11:40PM
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The jury that was out on Dubnyk has returned. He is not the goalie we need. The panic button is pushed. The coach looked disgusted at the soft goals that went in. The GM looked the same and I think most of the fans are concerned about the goaltending or lack thereof. I know something drastic needs to happen, but there is no way I want to trade one of our valuable players for a legit goalie, and there is no way I want the Oil to be picking early in the draft again. Hopefully DD can find his confidence again and soon.

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#25 Zamboni Driver
October 12 2013, 11:42PM
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I've also often wondered why we never see permission from the bloggers and writers out there that it is now OFFICIALLY okay to panic.

You'd think it would have come up once or twice in:

30th, 30th, 29th, 26th

Can't think of a time though.

Instead everyone is just a litttttttttttle smarter than the dull masses.

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#26 Johe
October 12 2013, 11:43PM
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Just a little more patience guys. We've been through 7 years of suck, we can take a few games of bad goaltending. I say this with absolute confidence- Dubnyk is still an NHL goaltender. Four games doesn't erase three years of solid play.

I'm telling you, this team is doing a lot of things right. Four out of five games we've been as good or better than the opposition. We're getting more shots, dominating in faceoffs, not getting outhit, and all the offseason adds are fitting in well. This team WILL start producing wins. If you want to give up on them this early, suit yourself and go party with DSF.

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#27 Butters
October 12 2013, 11:45PM
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Yes, we should have pursued Tim Thomas and we could have him and his 0.850 Save Percentage.

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#29 Zamboni Driver
October 12 2013, 11:45PM
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@Johe

Said every single year for the past 7.

Roger.

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#30 DSF
October 12 2013, 11:47PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The major premise being that Dubnyk is a league-average goalie and the minor premise being that four games aren't enough to heavily shift that viewpoint?

Well, you're welcome to your opinion on that. You're probably not alone in it.

In my experience, the best way to evaluate goaltenders is to weigh the long-term record heavily and not make decisions too hastily. We'll see if that proves true here.

And hey, if worst comes to worst, at least it wasn't four of the last five games of the Stanley Cup Finals, right?

I guess when Dubnyk takes his team to game 7 of the cup finals and wins an Olympic gold medal, we'll have something to talk about.

Dubnyk was invited to the Olympic try out camp, right?

Until then, keep chirping.

Looks good on ya.

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#32 Zamboni Driver
October 12 2013, 11:50PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Touche.

Though to be fair. Sad as it is for most fanboys, the braintrust is not, in fact, playing anymore.

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#33 exsanguinator
October 12 2013, 11:52PM
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Meh, he's a career .911 goalie including this year. If he gets the .920 he got last season then LaBarbera and Dubnyk are a good enough tandem for the firepower the Oil has up front.

On the other hand, playing a career back up seems to be working pretty well for Calgary so far so maybe you do play LaBarbera more.

Also, the Oilers defensemen aren't really doing him any favors either like always.

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#34 DSF
October 12 2013, 11:54PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

So far it's looked like a good thing he didn't buy out Hemsky, don't you think?

Hemsky is currently 96th in league scoring and is -6.

Sure wouldn't want to mess with that mojo.

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#35 Gret99zky
October 12 2013, 11:57PM
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New wife, check.

New child, check.

New GM has no faith in him, check.

DD has a lot on his plate.

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#36 Johe
October 12 2013, 11:57PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Said every single year for the past 7.

Roger.

Yeah, but this time I mean it ;)

No, really...

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#38 Alsker
October 13 2013, 12:01AM
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Jmang wrote:

We cant afford to risk our first. The way this is going that clould be a nathan makinnon

Really, that type of logic is what causes infabuilds. Eventually you must make the move that gets you over the hump, now is that time!!!!! Get the goalie we need and the pick wont be top 10 let alone top 5.

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#39 TDSM31
October 13 2013, 12:03AM
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DSF wrote:

Hemsky is currently 96th in league scoring and is -6.

Sure wouldn't want to mess with that mojo.

But DSF, Willis never looks at stats...he's a pure hockey guy that bases his opinions on what he sees on the ice...so those numbers mean nothing to a guy like him.

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#40 Johe
October 13 2013, 12:05AM
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@Jonathan Willis

If you keep feeding the troll, he'll keep saying stupid things. I know you know that, but...

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#41 Oilers Coffey
October 13 2013, 12:07AM
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TERRIBLE GOALTENDING! You can't argue against that, Dubnyk has never had the ability to make the key key save in a game.

How many times in his tenure did we lose third period leads?

How many times were the Oilers never able to break the first goal funk from a weak first goal against when there was tons of momentum going in the Oilers favor?

Has Dubnyk ever been a real winner? Like championship winner???

NEVER

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#42 Cold Hard Truth
October 13 2013, 12:07AM
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Jonathan,

Do your stats hold you at night and tell you they love you?

On a side note, we are probably one of the few teams who assumes no trade can be made without being ripped off. Probably years of poor management at work.

I would love to see the oilers win, but a part of me wants them to lose miserably so maybe, just maybe, Lowe & co. are given the boot. Call it blood lust.

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#43 Serious Gord
October 13 2013, 12:08AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

So far it's looked like a good thing he didn't buy out Hemsky, don't you think?

Not if buying him out and using the cap room and roster spot had helped secure a real number one goalie.

Same crap logic when you point to Thomas' sv %. It's that MacT didn't try all of the more bold options that has us in this mess.

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#44 Cold Hard Truth
October 13 2013, 12:10AM
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As for the "it's still early argument," or the "we need more patience." My psyche is is starting to chafe hearing this year after year. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

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#45 John
October 13 2013, 12:12AM
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Time to panic is right. Look at the Blue Jays this year, they didn't panic after losing games early in the season. I see similar problems Oilers has just as the Jays did. So far goal tending is bad and defense also bad these past 5 games. The offense is scoring but not more than what they got scored against. 25 goals allowed in 5 games is unacceptable, what happened to team conditioning Eakins brought in to the team? They allowed late goals and looked tired and out of sync against the Devils. Later in the season when goal tending is good but the offense is no where. Goal tending, defense and offense has to be firing all cylinders. Not one or two each game but all three to win games. Look at the Avs (I can't stand that guy Roy), they are winning 5 games to start the season and they were dead last last year. Dubnyk didn't look sharp, mentally prepared and be alert each time other team shoot at him. He let in easy goals and stayed too deep in net, also go down too early. It's early in the season and the points are slipping away, late in the season these points will bite them in the ass. Time to panic and start to play better as a team. Please Oilers, play better. From a long time fan, moved from Edmonton to Toronto 20 years ago. I m still an Oiler fan all these years. Please for the love of god, play better for all your fans around the world! God bless! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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#46 Jmang
October 13 2013, 12:13AM
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@DSF

Dubnyk was not invited to olympic training canp. He was invited to last years tourney. And played pretty horrendously for canada i might add. Hence not getting another chance. Smith outplayed him by a wide margin.

Dubnyk just seems to lack any.. Athletisism .. He seems rly uptight. Him and lebarbra or whatever. Both play deep in their net. And look like they havent done the splits in years. If oilers stick with it. I see no way they will slump out of this hole.

And in response , no i dont rly think we will do that awful this season, we wont get first overall. And if we used it to get ourselves a likely stud the chances of that pick being less valuable would increase. Im just frutrated with what i have seen thus far.

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#47 Alsker
October 13 2013, 12:16AM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

Jonathan,

Do your stats hold you at night and tell you they love you?

On a side note, we are probably one of the few teams who assumes no trade can be made without being ripped off. Probably years of poor management at work.

I would love to see the oilers win, but a part of me wants them to lose miserably so maybe, just maybe, Lowe & co. are given the boot. Call it blood lust.

Dont need to win but break even on a trade, as for Klowe+co. after what he's done and to still draw a paycheck, there is nothing he can do to cost him his place in the Oilers. That is until RX2 opens, at which time the Oil better be serious winners or else...In other words we have 2-3 years of this crap left.

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#48 Serious Gord
October 13 2013, 12:18AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Ah, yes - short sample plus/minus, the single best indicator of player ability ever created by anybody.

I look forward to Cory Sarich (plus-8, tied for best among all NHL blueliners) getting his well-deserved Norris Trophy nomination this fall.

I'll also be happy when the lousiest defenders in the NHL - guys like Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Shea Weber (and of course Jake Muzzin, condolences on that I know he's a favourite) wash out of the league, what with them clearly being unable to handle NHL opposition.

Naturally, I also hope the Oilers trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (minus-7, ouch) while they can and Vancouver probably ought to dump Ryan Kesler (minus-5) too.

You are talking out of both sides of your mouth logically. You can't cite hemskys performance in five games and than rebut DSF by saying that his data - the same five games you are working with - is too small a sample size.

Hemsky is off to a good start. But hemsky could lead the league and that won't offset the disaster that oiler goaltending has been thusfar.

Just as in baseball it's all about starting pitching (today's two games are as firm a proof of that as you will ever find) and in football the qback is key in hockey goaltending is paramount. Throwing a couple of surplus forwards - hemsky and gagner overboard to get that high quality proven goalie would have been worth it.

And because that wasn't done, the only way to get one if dubnyk doesn't recover at least to something approaching average competency in the next ten days or so is to trade a truly capital asset. And if the team is forced into that spot in the days or so it is 100% MacT's fault.

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#49 Tuleth
October 13 2013, 12:22AM
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Dubnyk = tony romo of hockey. Choke artist. The end.

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#50 Serious Gord
October 13 2013, 12:25AM
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Tuleth wrote:

Dubnyk = tony romo of hockey. Choke artist. The end.

That's an insult to tony romo. He had one of the greatest games a quarterback ever had last week and lost to a quarterback having THE greatest game ever. That last pick wasn't his fault IMO.

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