Olivier Roy’s ugly performance against Sweden has left Team Canada’s coaching staff with a difficult decision for their first elimination game, against Switzerland on Sunday. After three games, Roy’s save percentage has fallen to 0.875, and given that he narrowly won the starting job over Mark Visentin it seems probable that the coaching staff will take this moment to reconsider that decision.
If Roy is demoted to second-string status, it will be a black mark against him, and will probably alter the expectations of many for him. It probably shouldn’t.
The fact is, three games aren’t nearly enough time to evaluate a goaltender, no matter how high a profile those games have. Nikolai Khabibulin serves as a fine case in point; depending which three-game segment we take from this year we can make him look like a Vezina Trophy candidate or the worst goaltender in the league.
I’m not saying that I’m a huge believer in Roy. His numbers this season pale in comparison to those of his backup in Acadie-Bathhurst, he’s in his fourth season as a QMJHL starter and can’t seem to gain ground, and he slipped in last summer’s draft despite emerging as a draft prospect at a very young age. He’s typical of a fifth-round pick in that regard: there are things to like but he’s very much a question mark.
But those three World Junior games are a very small piece of the picture.
Ryan Jones, Place Holder
Ryan Jones has had a lot of positive comments directed his way for his play this season. He hustles, and more importantly he scores goals despite extremely limited minutes.
There’s an interesting thing to note about Jones, though. Leaving aside two players – AHL call-up Ryan O’Marra and enforcer Steve MacIntyre – Jones leads the team in one very relevant area. When Jones is on the ice, the Oilers get outshot worse than they do with any other player.
The numbers are bleak. According to behindthenet.ca, for every 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time Jones plays, the Oilers manage just 16 shots to every 31 the opposition fires. When Jones is off the ice, things are very different: the Oilers manage 24 shots while allowing 29 against for every 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time. Putting it another way, the Oilers are outshot by three times as much when Jones is on the ice compared to when he’s off of it.
There’s no doubt in my mind: if the Oilers can get a middling draft pick or marginal prospect for Jones at the deadline, they should make the move.
- I’ve been delighted to see the strong performance this season of another Roy with Oilers connections – Mathieu Roy. Roy had an incredibly bad time with injuries during his time with the Oilers organization, but the last two seasons things have turned around a bit. Last season he got a lengthy NHL stint with Columbus, and this season he got a cup of coffee in Tampa Bay but has been spectacular for their farm team, putting up 14 points in 15 games, along with a plus-nine rating.
- I specifically left out Ryan O’Marra when talking about Ryan Jones above. O’Marra’s on-ice shot totals for and against are almost as bad, and when we factor in other shot attempts nobody on the team is on the ice for a worse ratio of pucks on net for to pucks on net against. He’s an easy demotion to the farm somewhere along the line, whenever the Oilers add another NHL centre.
- Jeff Deslauriers, suffering through an ugly season in the AHL, was loaned to Team Canada for the Spengler Cup. While Canada finished with silver, Deslauriers ended the tournament with a bit of a silver lining: he was named top goaltender.