BEGINNING OF THE END?

Jason Gregor
December 13 2013 12:16PM

Devan Dubnyk is an interesting case study. He has proven he can play in the NHL, and make timely saves, however, he has also shown monumental lapses in focus that result in him allowing an easy goal, usually from 50-60 feet out. Last night, Dubnyk made four or five huge saves early in the game, when the Bruins were all over the Oilers. The Oilers need those types of saves from Dubnyk, but then in an instant all of those great saves are erased, and the team gets deflated when Dubnyk allows a Dennis Seidenberg floater from the blueline to make it 1-0.

The Oilers ended up trailing 3-0 after the first period, and while Dubnyk wasn't at fault on the final two goals, he didn't start the second period. Eakins explained his decision to change goalies, "It wasn't a mercy pull, it wasn't because the first one went in from far out, I just thought we needed to make a change in the net."

Eakins wisely didn't throw his goalie under the bus, but I wonder if that goal was the beginning of the end of Dubnyk's time in Edmonton?

Dubnyk has proven he can play in the NHL, but he's also proven he susceptible to giving up weak goals. Every goalie will allow a weak goal, but Dubnyk has allowed them too often in 2013, and unless he goes 10-15 games without one, I'm not sure how much confidence the organization will have in him moving forward.

Will they re-sign him to be their starter next year? At this point, I think they only re-sign him at part of a tandem, I don't see them starting next season with him as their clear cut number one.

Dubnyk's struggles are mental mistakes, not physical ones, and it is very plausible that he could go to another market and play well. Some players need a change of scenery and a fresh start, but the Oilers need more consistent and reliable goaltending moving forward.

Let's be clear, Dubnyk isn't the only Oiler who struggles with consistency. The entire team is guilty of that, but the harsh reality of his position is that when he makes a mental mistake, it usually ends up in the back of the net. If a forward makes a dumb play at the offensive blueline, it often won't result in a goal.

There is a lot of pressure on starting goalies, but they also receive lots of praise and money if they perform. Pressure is a major part of being a goalie, and unfortunately for Dubnyk, he has shown a tendency to lose his focus or succumb to the pressure of the position.

Last summer Craig MacTavish said, "If you have to ask the question, then you know the answer," when referring to whether or not Dubnyk was a proven starting goalie.

Seven months later, nothing has changed. Dubnyk is still battling "weak goalitis" and the Oilers aren't any closer to knowing who their goalie of the future is.

Last season, despite allowing some weak goals Dubnyk still managed a very good 0.920 SV%, but this year he's still giving up soft goals, but his SV% is 0.890. Teams can accept the odd weak goal, when your SV% is .920, but this season Dubnyk's overall play has regressed.

I've learned that completely writing off a player who has shown he can excel in the league, can often bite you in the ass in the future. I'm not ready to suggest Dubnyk won't be a solid NHL goalie, but I think the chance of that happening in Edmonton is diminishing by the day.

I'm not sure they will have the confidence to let him be their starter next season, but I also think a change of scenery could help Dubnyk.

The Oilers are looking for stability throughout their lineup, and at the end of the season, or before the trade deadline, I'm sure Eakins and MacTavish will have a conversation about which players the coach wants to keep, and which ones he'd rather not have heading into next season.

Right now, Dubnyk likely fits in the latter category, and unless the weak goals disappear from his repertoire over the next few months, he'll stay there.

QUICK HITS... 

  • Luke Gazdic continues to give his team a boost when he drops the gloves, and with his overall play. Gazdic has been very good in his role as a pugilist, and he is getting better every game as a player. Gazdic's teammates love his spirit and willingness to do a job that none of them, and none of us, would or could do.

    Gazdic doesn't make mistakes in his own zone, and his skating is good enough to get around. When you look at players on the Oilers who accept their role, and perform it to the best of their ability every game, Gazdic is near the top of that list.

    It takes incredible courage to do what Gazdic does, especially against guys like Lucic, Bordeleau and McGratton, and the Oilers need more players to match his courage. Not as fighters, but as players willing to do anything and everything to help the team win.
     
  • David Perron just keeps getting better, and you hope that eventually his tenacity and determination rubs off on the other skilled forwards. Perron is gritty, greasy, chirpy and very skilled. He's also being forced to learn how to play defence courtesy of the St. Louis Blues, and that reflects in his game. You don't see Perron giving up the puck as often as the other skilled players. Perron is older than RNH, Hall, Eberle and Yakupov so experience likely plays a factor in that, but they should look at him to realize that playing good defence won't limiting your scoring chances.
     
  • Jesse Joensuu has played much better the past two games. He is moving his feet and the past few games he's started to use his big frame to make life difficult for opposing D-men. If he keeps playing like that, I think he'll become a bigger factor in games.
     
  • Here is another example of why I love the spirit and generosity of Edmontonians. Yesterday on my show Michelle Derk generously donated her realtor commission when selling your house. We were near the end of the show and Patrick and Mick were in a bidding war at $4,500. Michelle text me and said if both agree to pay $5,000 (all proceeds went to charity) she would waive her commission on both their houses. She was losing out on potentially $15,000-$18,000 in commissions, but she wanted to help the charities.

    When I asked Patrick and Mick, without hesitation they both agreed, so we ended up raising $10,000 yesterday. That is unreal.

    If you are planning on selling you house in the near future, I highly recommend you call Michelle. She is a mother of three and her heart is in the right place. Michelle, Patrick and Mick you three made my day. Thank you.

DAY 11...MONTH OF GIVING...

After yesterday's unreal $10,000 donations we are up to $42,950.00 in ten days. That is incredible.

Today's package includes...

The Eskimos VIP Package:

  • Two seats in the Presidents Suite with Len Rhodes to watch the game.
  • Complimentary food and beverages all game.
  • Two signed Eskimos jerseys. You can pick which colour and which player's jersey you want.
  • You will be chauffeured to and from the game in an Escalade courtesy of Budget Car and Truck Rentals.
     

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 13 2013, 05:29PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

I agree.

What I don't agree with is, you're stating your conclusion, referring to the outcome of a game and the potential impact of a clutch save, as "it is not nearly as important as save percentage" and you're stating that conclusion as a certainty.....which by way of fact, it is not.

Also, you provide no analysis on the potential correlation between clutch saves and save percentage.

Finally, I really wouldn't nit pick so much except for the fact that it's a common theme in most of your posts here. Where you draw conclusions that go beyond the statical analysis provided and more importantly are in error by omission frequently, because you seldom if ever consider or talk about the relationships and causal affects that specific sets of statistics and specific relevant circumstances have on each other (ie. correlation). You refer only to stats/ data that is easily attainable and disregard or minimize all other factors for which the data is not readily available. That, for lack of better words, is just bad science.

That's my beef.

But like I said....if you want to acknowledge that your just generalizing based on limited data sets....then I'm good with that.

Edit: Just don't be pompous about it.

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#102 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 13 2013, 05:46PM
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Zarny wrote:

Ridiculous.

Your point about a B market is valid. Like it or not, it's hard to convince players to come to Edm.

Dubnyk I'm afraid will play for a lot more than $1M next season. That, quite frankly, is absurd.

Buy out Gagner at $4.8M with only 2 years left? Beyond absurd. It's laughable how some of you hit the panic button. I can only assume you think Phi should buy out Giroux too.

Like it or not, Gagner's career pt/gm puts him over 50 pts which is well within the top 60 C in the league every year. He has defensive and face-off deficiencies to be sure but you're a fool if you think he's a 3rd line C on most good teams. I don't think Gagner compliments Nuge well and I do think he should be traded but half the league will be interested in him considering he's just entering his prime.

So really, the only thing we disagree on is the Gagner issue. Even you have to admit there are a few warts in Sammy's game.

Just like there are fake tough guys in the game today, there are also fake good guys. Sam is one of those guys.

Top 60 in the league, this league sure isn't what it use to be since expansion.

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#103 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 13 2013, 05:53PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

I agree.

What I don't agree with is, you're stating your conclusion, referring to the outcome of a game and the potential impact of a clutch save, as "it is not nearly as important as save percentage" and you're stating that conclusion as a certainty.....which by way of fact, it is not.

Also, you provide no analysis on the potential correlation between clutch saves and save percentage.

Finally, I really wouldn't nit pick so much except for the fact that it's a common theme in most of your posts here. Where you draw conclusions that go beyond the statical analysis provided and more importantly are in error by omission frequently, because you seldom if ever consider or talk about the relationships and causal affects that specific sets of statistics and specific relevant circumstances have on each other (ie. correlation). You refer only to stats/ data that is easily attainable and disregard or minimize all other factors for which the data is not readily available. That, for lack of better words, is just bad science.

That's my beef.

But like I said....if you want to acknowledge that your just generalizing based on limited data sets....then I'm good with that.

Edit: Just don't be pompous about it.

What I don't agree with is, you're stating your conclusion, referring to the outcome of a game and the potential impact of a clutch save, as "it is not nearly as important as save percentage" and you're stating that conclusion as a certainty.....which by way of fact, it is not.

But isn't it true?

Stopping more pucks is infinitely more important than whether we classify them as "clutch" or not.

Letting in more goals is infinitely more important than whether we classify them as "soft" or not.

This may be a generalization, but I don't think it is one we need to register complaint about.

While a team probably suffers from the costs/benefits of "soft goals" and "clutch saves", I'm guessing they suffer even more from the aggregate, i.e., did you actually stop a lot of damn shots or not, which leads to winning.

Also, you provide no analysis on the potential correlation between clutch saves and save percentage.

As for the rest of your comment, if I omit something it isn't intentional and the nature of a good conversation should allow for others to add, subtract and build.

I'm not aware of a correlation between "clutch" and sv% or how it would be expressed. If you come up with something I'd certainly be interested in it. I certainly haven't left it out for some malicious reason.

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#104 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 13 2013, 05:56PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

How so?

BTW, what statistical analysis have I been conducting or defending?

We're talking about sv% here… we aren't running regression tables or anything remotely complex.

Very little....and poorly.

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#105 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 13 2013, 06:10PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Maybe the problem here is that you're too soft on yourself with respect to your language.

Point one...you ask isn't it true......I say it's not a fact.

Point two.....you say...this may be a generalization....I say it is a generalization.

Point three you say...a team probably suffers from soft goals....I say it's a fact that they suffer from soft goals

Point four....you say you omit in good nature..not malicious....I say simply ...you omit.

Point five...you blame media types for propagandizing , sensationalizing, exaggerating the value or importance of certain events.....I blame you of doing exactly the same thing with you're use of data sets......you're both drawing false conclusions from limited sets of data.....so in that respect, you're a hypocrite.

Im trying to be respectful in tone. And I am sincere when I say that I hope you enjoy the game tonight.

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#106 BLAKPOO
December 13 2013, 06:17PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Shot quality is endlessly debated but needs a lot more work.

You'd probably be interested in Parkatti's recent work:

http://www.boysonthebus.com/2013/11/26/testing-the-predictive-value-of-expected-goals-vs-other-metrics/

Thanks for the link.

Some good theories here. Again, no real ability to accurately gauge the quality of the shots, or even the goalies ability to make that save.

Is Dubnyk's height an advantage? Would it increase or decrease his ability to make certain saves from certain areas? Are certain types of shots easier to score on taller goalies? Right handed or Left?

There's just waaay too many variables to it, and I kind of like it that way. If it was all math and no chaos, they wouldn't have to actually play a game to determine it's outcome.

Maybe we should generate an in-house stat to encompass the unknown variables.. like a chaos rating.

Perron's one-handed backhand wraparound increases his chaos rating by 30 points..

Dubnyk's latest muffin goal decreases his chaos rating by another 40 points..

Not exactly scientific, but would help to seperate the quality from the garbage. Even if it's just for fun, and just for the Oilers.

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#107 Johnnydapunk
December 13 2013, 06:43PM
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It seems like Dubnyk plays like a man defeated, the fire is gone, he knows that he is a "dead man walking" and it's like that feeling you get a week before you go on a massive holiday you planned, despite being still at work, in your mind you are already gone.

It was his job to lose, the pressure ( and possibly fatherhood) broke him and the little confidence the team had in him is most likely gone. It's debatable if it really was ever there as MacT was quite clear and open that he was in the market for a goalie, and signing Bryz made it even more stupid obvious.

It takes a confident, borderline cocky goalie who knows he is good to play for the Oil, you see that in the way The Bryz has played so far, he gives the impression that there is no need to panic, he has his part under control. With Dubnyk, it's like everyone's heart pauses when a shot comes to him.

I would think that a change in scenery could be the answer, maybe a place with less pressure as it is sky high with the Oil due to being crap for so long compared to teams that are middle of the road (teams like Columbus or even the Preds for example - if you follow the English Premiership, Fulham is the epitome of average :-) )

He could be in the same boat as Ty Conklin was who did alright after leaving Edmonton though he did manage to have the kind of funny record of being most likely the only goalie to be on 2 different Stanley cup losing teams in consecutive years :-P

Whilst I'm not MacT or 6Rings, I would try to get some idea of first who would come here, as that is sadly an issue here, and be prepared to overpay to convince someone that the Oil are worth coming to. Bryz could be the answer, or Hiller I wouldn't object to, but it all depends on how the season plays out.

There are a lot of free agent goalies available in the summer so it may be a buyers market out there.

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#108 Rod from Viking
December 13 2013, 06:49PM
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@Hayek

Well I guess we can agree to disagree otherwise life would be boring. The fight did have an impact,it kept Lucic of the ice for five minutes and picked up the atmosphere in the building and on the bench. Gadzic is an above average skater for someone his size and he has as many even strength goals as Yakapov and was leading the team in plus minus. I personally only like a fight if there is a reason for it, and yes in hockey there is, I absolutely hate the Ray Emery and the last Shawn Thorton muggings. I have a question for you;do think Lucid was drafted as a power forward or a tough guy?

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#109 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 13 2013, 07:22PM
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BLAKPOO wrote:

Thanks for the link.

Some good theories here. Again, no real ability to accurately gauge the quality of the shots, or even the goalies ability to make that save.

Is Dubnyk's height an advantage? Would it increase or decrease his ability to make certain saves from certain areas? Are certain types of shots easier to score on taller goalies? Right handed or Left?

There's just waaay too many variables to it, and I kind of like it that way. If it was all math and no chaos, they wouldn't have to actually play a game to determine it's outcome.

Maybe we should generate an in-house stat to encompass the unknown variables.. like a chaos rating.

Perron's one-handed backhand wraparound increases his chaos rating by 30 points..

Dubnyk's latest muffin goal decreases his chaos rating by another 40 points..

Not exactly scientific, but would help to seperate the quality from the garbage. Even if it's just for fun, and just for the Oilers.

On goalies and things like height and style, you might be interested in this great article by Mirtle on the decline of Canadian dominance in net:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/the-decline-of-canadas-goalies/article15786050/

Canada hasn't modernized it goalie coaching and training since Roy.

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#110 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 13 2013, 07:42PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Maybe the problem here is that you're too soft on yourself with respect to your language.

Point one...you ask isn't it true......I say it's not a fact.

Point two.....you say...this may be a generalization....I say it is a generalization.

Point three you say...a team probably suffers from soft goals....I say it's a fact that they suffer from soft goals

Point four....you say you omit in good nature..not malicious....I say simply ...you omit.

Point five...you blame media types for propagandizing , sensationalizing, exaggerating the value or importance of certain events.....I blame you of doing exactly the same thing with you're use of data sets......you're both drawing false conclusions from limited sets of data.....so in that respect, you're a hypocrite.

Im trying to be respectful in tone. And I am sincere when I say that I hope you enjoy the game tonight.

1. it is a fact. sv% is more important than classifying goals "soft" or otherwise… if winning is the object.

2. it is a generalization. and that's fine. We take particular events and gain general information. if you have a problem with this, fire away, it's not a fight I will challenge you on as it is so commonplace as to not bother with objections.

3. we agree.

4. omit what? you haven't made this case for some correlation between "soft" goals and sv%. I've told you I'd hear it out. Why is the burden on me to make it for you?

5. My "data set" is sv%. I argued it more important in evaluating goalies than "wins" or "soft goals"… this is widely acknowledged stuff here.

This is a horrible game so far. I don't think any Oiler fan could possibly enjoy this…. beyond the fact that at least hockey is on tv.

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#111 Chris.
December 13 2013, 07:48PM
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When MacT first made his, "if you have to ask the question..." remarks most of the stats geeks wrote blogs, posted comments, and verbalized on the radio that by the numbers Dubnyk was a legit starter. A myriad of horrified commentators pontificated this position regularly all summer with every fresh rumor regarding Bishop, Bernier, Schneider, etc.

When the summer ended, and MacT (probably reluctantly) settled on LaBarbera as a cheap backup to Dubnyk there was a collective sigh of relief from many corners of the Oilogosphere (I'm looking at you Lowetide and MC79) The narrative: Thank God MacTavish wasn't foolish enough to overpay for any of the above names when those guys are so clearly in the same family of goal tenders as the guy we already have.

When the season started we got a steady diet of the same on TSN 1260 and 630 Ched after every loss. Didn't you know Dubnyk was top 15 in save percentage during the lockout shortened season? (Then usually a bunch of fenwick/corsi mumbo jumbo that proved the Oilers were killing it 5 on 5 and were just a bit unlucky)

Simple fact: I cheer for a team that crashed and burned out of the playoff race before November ended... At the risk of sounding simple: I think a lot of those losses are Dubnyk and LaBarbera's fault. MacT should have gone with his gut this summer.

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#112 Don W
December 13 2013, 08:26PM
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The thing with Dub is that when he lets in a goal like that first one it's a oh no not again moment while with a decent goalie it is a what just happened here. That goal shouldn't score in any league or division. Maybe he needs to get his eyes checked or learn to just make himself big in the net on those long distance ones.

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#113 HOFFFF
December 13 2013, 08:43PM
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Brian Burke looks like a mad scientist.

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#114 outdoorzguy
December 13 2013, 09:09PM
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This should be Dubnyk's last game as an Oiler based on this pitiful showing. While we're at it, let's get rid of Eakins as well. His scowl on the bench after each goal is wearing thin.

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#115 MMAX
December 13 2013, 09:42PM
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You know what was worse than Dubnyk's performance tonight? That dork national anthem singer that doesn't know all the words to O Canada.

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#116 Andy7190
December 13 2013, 09:43PM
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"will only be re-signed as part of a tandem"?

What part of a tandem? The part where Dubnyk is stapled to the bench? That part?

Seriously.

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#117 Prudham's
December 13 2013, 09:53PM
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@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

I think the Boston game was the end of the beginning of the end. And once you're through the beginning of the end, we all know that there's really very little middle of the end or end of the end afforded to you.

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#118 Andrew
December 14 2013, 12:44AM
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Speaking of end o' season conversations I would respectfully suggest that Eakin's is a fair subject for analysis for his overall fitness to be head coach. His goofy coaching strategies have pulled the rug out fron under the players and destroyed whatever confidence this team had in themselves and each other. (See player performance and team stats). That should tell MacT what his entire coaching staff has produced.

On the other hand the players brought up from OKC appear much better prepared for the "show" than most of the Oiler players already deemed "ready for prime time".

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