Given their track record of developing goaltenders, I’m wondering if the Edmonton Oilers are going to finally get it right for the rest of this season where it regards handling Devan Dubnyk. I’m not hopeful.
With 31 games in the books and 51 more to play, starting in San Jose against the Sharks Tuesday, Dubnyk has played in just 10 games so far, making eight starts. Nikolai Khabibulin, meanwhile, has seen action in 21 games, all of them starts.
We’ve raised this topic before here, and the question remains: how many games should Dubnyk play this season so head coach Tom Renney and the organization can get a read on what his future holds?
Does Dubnyk need to play a minimum of 20 games to provide a clear picture? Twenty-five? Thirty? Apparently, Renney is thinking in terms of the lower end of that scale, at least if I’m reading his comments right.
"If I’m going to play Devan 15 to 20 games, I have to start getting him in more," Renney told reporters before the Oilers jetted to San Jose this morning. Fifteen to 20?
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Dubnyk, 24, is 2-3-3 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .915 saves percentage in the 10 games he’s played. Khabibulin is 8-11-2 with a 3.46 GAA and .898 save percentage.
If taken literally, as in "15-20 games," Renney is saying Dubnyk could see action in as few as five games and as many as 10 of the next 51 games. Do those numbers make any sense to you? Not to me.
Khabibulin, without question, has been very good since returning from his strained groin. That’s not the point. Neither is the $3.75 million he’s earning this season and for two more years after this. That money is spent whether Khabibulin sits or plays.
Did I fall down the stairs and hit my head, or does it not make sense to give Dubnyk more of the load the rest of the way? What’s the purpose in giving Khabibulin more than half the remaining games? If it’s the chance to make the playoffs, an unlikely expectation Renney voiced Friday, what in the numbers suggests that chance is enhanced by using Khabibulin four times as often as Dubnyk?
I’m missing something here.
— UPDATE: Given the appetite of fans for immediate information, I was surprised to see the line story on the Edmonton Sun’s website page today: "Renney expects Oilers to make playoffs."
Derek Van Diest first ran Renney’s comments on the website Friday afternoon. I missed the original item and mistakenly thought he sat on the comments for two days. He didn’t. The headline treatment of the follow-up item Van Diest wrote Sunday was the problem, not his handling of the story.
Reporters don’t write the headlines. Wondering why Van Diest would sit on Renney’s statement was my mistake, not his. Thanks to one of our readers for pointing that out.
— I just watched the latest (I think) Oil Change, the "Road Trip" episode on my PVR. While it’s very well done, as you’d expect with anything produced by Don Metz and Aquila Productions, there’s an ongoing problem with all reality TV — too often, it feels more staged than real.
An example of that that stuck out for me was a segment showing Dan Tencer of 630 CHED in the studio at Rexall Place taking post-game calls as he usually does.
While this series has offered lots of genuine insight, to my eye, this bit played as over-the-top theatrics by Tencer, who was obviously acutely aware of the presence of the camera. It seemed like an audition for an acting part (The Simpsons?) as opposed to giving fans a glimpse behind the scenes. I’d be interested in the opinions of those who saw it.
— What’s your take on new radio play-by-play man Jack Michaels, now that you’ve had 31 games to get used to him?
AND . . .
— If Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule don’t finish among the top nine Oilers forwards in scoring, there’s going to be a lot of us taking a 50-point hit in our Lucky 13 Pool.
As you might recall, one of the rules is that if a forward you picked doesn’t finish in the top nine for any reason, including a trade, it’s minus-25 points in the standings. Both could be bumped by Ryan Jones and Linus Omark. That might actually provide a break for dummies like me, who picked Brule to get 48 points and Cogliano to get 41.
Based on their starts to this season, I’m guessing I overshot worse than any of the other writers, but if one or both slips out of the top nine, I’ll catch a break and we’ll all get the same minus-25 for each. Is there anybody out there who had Jones and Omark in the top nine?
— There are 11 Swedish rookie skaters in the NHL this season. Magnus Paajarvi’s 14 points tops that group ahead of runner-up Mattias Tedenby of New Jersey (4-4-8). Omark is seventh with 1-3-4 in just four games.
— Still trying to confirm if Brule even made the trip to San Jose and Los Angeles. According to Jim Matheson of The Journal, Brule is sick and there was some doubt as to whether he’d travel.
— Ales Hemsky, out since Dec. 1 with a strained groin, is skating on his own and could be ready to resume practising after the Christmas break.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.