We had to leave the JL meeting at the end of the first period to drive out to the airport and pick up a buddy who is home for the holidays. After we had loaded all his crap into the truck and were heading back on the QEII he surveyed the snowy scene outside.
“Thanks for coming to get me Wanye. I haven’t seen roads like this in a while. I must be home.”
“No problem, you dink,” we replied. “In the future, could you arrange it so you don’t come in during an Oilers game?”
He then told us he really felt at home and we began discussing the team. He has been out of the country for an extended period but it was amazing how quickly you can bring someone up to speed on the last quarter of the season.
Him: “How are the Oil doing anyway?”
Me: “Fairly crappily actually. They are hovering around .500”
Him: “I thought I read on the net that they were supposed to be good this season. Wasn’t everyone pumped up about all the rookies and the free agents going into this year?”
Me: “Yeah, they aren’t lighting the world on fire by any means but they aren’t terrible either. Visnovsky is working out well, Souray is on fire. That’s about it so far though.”
Our buddy is a die-hard Oilers fan and played the game for years — so when we bring up his next point it isn’t coming from some drooling bonehead who just got back from dancing at raves in Europe for a year — though that’s exactly what he did.
“Know what the Oilers need to do to turn the corner?” he asked aloud.
Firstly, we were impressed that he could land, get in the car, be brought up to speed on the team by Leduc and have suggestions ready by the Whitemud. That’s an Oilers fan coming home for you. Without any prompting on our part he went on.
“The Oilers need to get a premiere goalie. All throughout the ‘90s no matter how crappy the Oilers were they had a good goalie. Ranford, CuJo even Salo was a big deal for a few seasons. They brought in Roloson to solve the revolving door scenario with Markkanen and Conklin and clearly he brought the heat.
“But now it seems they’re right back where they started with three mediocre goalies. Rather than looking for more skaters in trades, they should go after someone unreal in net. Hit a goalie up with a $6 million contract or something.”
By no means did Garon play badly last night. But the fact of the matter is that the Oil simply aren’t getting the goaltending they need on a night-in night-out basis. Let’s take a gander at the three headed monster shall we?
Is anyone lighting the world on fire here? No. Is it their fault, necessarily? No. Is goaltending one of the main reasons the Oilers sit where they do in the standings on a snowy Friday morning? No. Is it helpful to have a goalie that is in your top three players on the team? Yes. Very helpful, in fact. Might an addition of top-tier goalie — something rarely discussed — help vault the Oil up in the standings and cement the team in the upper tier of the West for the next few seasons? Sure.
Goalies are a strange bunch, and can often emerge out of nowhere. Take this Anderson from last night. He was something else wasn’t he? As Terry Jones explains:
The $575,000-a-year goalie, whose paycheque is 10% of Tomas Vokoun’s, went into the game with the best save percentage in the league at .941 and a 2.09 goals against average and improved on both numbers to go 5-1-2 in his last eight games and 16-4-3 since Jan. 3 last year.
Anderson left the building with one of the most fascinating stats you’ll ever find for a goaltender as he stretched his career record to 10-1-4 in games in which he faced 40 or more shots.
Maybe if the Oil are considering bringing in a premiere player in a four for one deal, a ‘tender should be airlifted in to this squad. We rarely hear it brought up but sometimes it takes a citizen of the Nation who hasn’t been listening to the Schremp analysis for the past seven months to bring in some perspective.