For some reason, the subject of goaltenders has been coming up a lot lately. Although I’m a fan of math and stats–when it comes to goaltenders–confidence and attitude must have some impact. Right?

Jack Shupe, his coach in Victoria, offered an appraisal of Grant that holds up right through the 80s. "Fuhr has a really good temperament to be a goaltender. He’s always easy-going and nothing seems to get him upset. You can score on him and he doesn’t change outwardly whatsoever. I’ve always felt he was tougher and played better if he let in a soft goal."

Kevin Lowe to Stan Fischler, Champions (1988)

That quote came to mind yesterday afternoon. I’d spoken to two of my Nation Radio guests about goaltenders, Eric Tulsky about Ilya Bryzgalov in Philly and Terry Jones about Devan Dubnyk in Edmonton. I asked Tulsky "how much did Bryzgalov’s unique personality, crisis of confidence and difficulty with the media impact the Flyers season?" and Eric replied he’d have no way to quantify it and wasn’t certain how much it had impacted the player.

I understand Eric’s point, and the Russian’s slide last season is clearly available via stats (SP slid from .921 to .909) but could have as much to do with systems and injury as anything Bryzgalov did during the year.

Which got me thinking about ‘perception’ and ‘storylines’ and how that can impact a player and career. The Flyers were unable to recover from Chris Pronger’s injury–what team could?–and their style of play is less button down than the Coyotes situation that gave Bryzgalov success and the big free agent deal.

So, how much of all of this is ‘confidence’ or ‘intangibles’ and how much of it is ‘shit happens’ and ‘you try losing Pronger and see how you like it?’


I asked Terry Jones about the Oilers chances of making the playoffs in 12-13 and he mentioned Dubnyk turning a corner, becoming more confident. Jones said Dubnyk was a different player at the World Hockey Championships this spring, and although he didn’t play a lot DD showed maturity and played well when called upon (.955SP in 2 games). Jones–who has seen a goalie or two play for the Oilers over the years–suggested Dubnyk appeared ready to take the mantle of #1 and was doing all the right things in preparation. It might be what the Oilers saw too when giving Dubnyk his 2-year deal this summer.

Dubnyk is likely to play in front of an improved defense this season. Although the club lost a valuable player in Tom Gilbert, they also said goodbye to an injured and ineffective Cam Barker and suffered through some tough times when Ryan Whitney returned from injury.

This season, Dubnyk will play in front of a more veteran Smid-Petry tandem, a healthier Whitney along with two men named Schultz–the elder offering stay-at-home coverage and the younger presenting a wider range of skills. There’s improved depth and that should mean a net gain even if the club is unable to add another veteran hand (ST suggested recently the team is still on the lookout).


If the Oilers do improve defensively this season and Dubnyk is the starter, who and what gets credit? Dubnyk and his confident play, or the big goalie and his improved PK SP (which HAS to be better)? Or is it Justin Schultz and his puck moving ability, or maybe Ralph Krueger and his verbal (another intangible) that made the difference.


Improvement in performance is measurable–Dubnyk was splendid at EV SP this past season but the overall SP number was compromised by his PK SP–and of course a player who is getting results will credit confidence and an improved attitude. We know you can’t measure confidence and math suggests that an improvement for Dubnyk and Bryzgalov will have a lot to do with injury and performance–theirs and the performance of the men around them.

Who gets credit? Depends on your point of view. 

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Sunday morning FIST!

    Thank you, LT. I’ll read the piece now.

    Edit: RB: “Who cares who improved by how much because of whom? We’re winning and some players are having great years.”

    Willis: “We need to compare QualComp with QualTeam and Zone Starts while Dubby is in net, from last year to this, to get a good read on this.”

    I agree with both. Let’s celebrate when it’s due and let Willis figure out the details, because he’s good at it.

  • OutDoorRink

    I think that the Oilers really have no choice regarding Dubie. It’s go time. All of the other pieces are coming together, but as everyone knows, without a stud in net, we’re sure to struggle.

    We need to know by the end of this season if he is our guy moving forward.

  • justDOit

    DD’s 2nd half stats, after Renney started giving him #1 minutes, were quite impressive. The team was also starting to play a somewhat organized structure in front of him, which never hurts a goalie.

  • Spydyr

    I would still like to see Khabby brought out, retired, sent to the minors,long term injury list and a young goalie, around Dubbie’s age, brought in to push him.

  • Helmethead

    The players confidence is almost directly related to the confidence(trust) established in the dressing room prior to puck drop.

    I’m sure in DD’s situation, it’s tough to have game time confidence when the starters aren’t revealed until game day. Any goalie will tell you, it’s hard to get into a rhythm when you never know if you’re playing or not.

    You could see Dubnyks confidence grow when he was given consecutive starts during stretches of last season.

    Sometimes I think Renney was too quick to rotate the starters. After a bad game, Dubnyk wasn’t offered many opportunities to bounce back. That can deflate the confidence of a player rather quickly if they’re not given the opportunity to bounce back. To me, that’s player mismanagement and not only aids to, if not contributes entirely to lower confidence levels in the player.

    Having faced 30+ shots 25 times out of the 47 games played and having a GGA of 2.67 and a SV% of .914 tells me the Oilers should be confident when he plays which should help rise the confidence in Dubnyk.

    My 2 bits

  • Helmethead

    Nice balance in your post,letting the positives of both perspectives have their moment.

    I believe statistics are only applicable to specific players within their specific systems and cannot be used in a comparative manner against other NHL players in different NHL systems.

    So for example in the NHS ,statistics are vitally important and relied on heavily in regards to individual player system suitability in any given dynamic,for example from a tactical decision makeing standpoint game to game I might use internal system stats to decide who I will ask to execute the system against say a team with two huge forwards we need to stop,I may shuffle my personell to accomodate something like a drastic physical mismatch–thats when stats are critical.Critical because when I look at the opponensts stats I can see where they are getting their points from game to game and then i can best formulate a personell plan to stop those dynamics from happening,simply putting two big guys head to head wont work,I need to stop the dynamics the big opposition bodies are createing and this might not be a complete head to head issue.I may have smaller men who “within the NHS system”are MORE effective at stopping two big forwards through system execution,and my internal stats will show me if this is true.

    You can look at a teams stats sheet points wise and by considering the positions of the players and their assists vs goals you can actually see who is putting the puck where and how often quite easily.You need to consider the d-men as well when visualiseing the dynamics they are creating to spread the points out the way they end up reading to us.

    But it is very effective at identifying and tacticlly viewing dynamic actions created by an opponent with out being fooled into simple thinking that matching man for man will be effective.You cant just look at the goals as goals and assists as assists,you need to find a way to identify how and why their is a balance on either the assist or goal number with each individual,NOT thinking they have these specific numbers because they are just “good”players who are so talented they MUST get points from somewhere,no concession.

    But useing stats to determine a players value or potential system suitablility in an NHL leaguewide context is IMPOSSIBLE with stats.Unless the systems of both teams are identical.The only reason stats guys can pull the wool over their own and others eyes as far as the applicable value of stats is because MOST team in the NHL play the same basic system,the HYBRID system,hence there is an ARTIFICIALLY created niche existing in the NHL that does in fact allow these statasticians to have a quantifiable sucess rate in determining certain things,especially player suitability and value comaratively in the league,but this is just a circumstancial dynamic,as soon as team begin to use the NHS,these stats will not be quite as usefull.

    Remember once you reach a league average in physical abilitys on your roster there is only the system to look for for advantages and edges out there on the ice,so haveing elite guys with superior individual physical attributes above league average can be a system asset,but it can also cripple your system by forcing you to utilise or rather overutilise these elite players and this affects your very system choices themselves–if you put value in physical ability above league average.

    So really who cares how fast Hall is or how big Pronger is??These are things that are easily countered and neutralised with a superior system executed accurately.So if I have a system requirement player wise,why would I EVER trade or seek men from outside my developmental system itself?/That is a contrarian action ,unless of course you believe in statistics being used to determine player value and system suitability,remember the NHS only requires that players are league average in physical skillsets,nothing more although more is welcome.

    Statistics are vital tools for tactical planning game to game in that you can identify dynamic trends the opponent is exhibiting and for determining level of your own players system suitability internally.

    How do you ever know if Potter is more system suitable than Whitney unless you can asses them both from a baseline—-one that is current and only related to the system and to the moment.

    I think Potter is more system suitable to the NHS,and that Whitney is more system suitable to a traditional hybrid system,and I would gladly step behind the bench and prove it,if I could just get the Oilers to take the bait.

    I believe that this inability to clearly asses our players system suitability is because we have had no system continuity,the Oilers have been trying to tweak their hybrid system for years by running players through it instead of opening up the organisations chest cavity and looking inside for the problems.

    This has created an issue of poor communication ,the scouts have been consistantly seeking the same types of players,they heve been provideing excellent players but a shoddy system consistancy level on the big team has negated a large percentage of the value of that scouting and development consistancy.This was no fault of the Oilers as they were doing as all other teams were doing .trying to evolve their system into something more sucessfull in todays NHL,UNTIL I created the NHS and spent a couple of years trying to gift it to them,now they have a system tailormade to take advantage of their scouting consistancy,I have solved an unsolvable problem for them,by tailormakeing a system for their players extra dimensions that the scouts are consistantly nailing down perfectly,this is why i say we ALREADY have all the personall we need to win the cup this year,it is the SYSTEM we need to replace,and i will say this for the first time ever right now,sorry Ralph,I dont think that there is a system capable of competeing with the NHS–either in Ralphs head–or in a book out there somewhere—and it pains me terribly to think of watching another year of struggling.

    We are darn lucky that someone within the Oilers organisation protected the scouts and allowed them to do such a long term consistant job of identifying excellent NHS type of players,they didnt go Jeckyl and Hyde like our tactical system choices did,remember I based the NHS off of the old Oilers PP,put it this way my entire system is built for players exactly like the Oilers have been scouting,developing and mishandeling for over ten years.Like I said I fixed the problem for them on a core value level.

    I believe a goaltender is a critical component of everything that happens on the ice,NOT just stopping pucks,once a system has achieved sucess the tenders job should get easier,if the NHS is used then there will be a LOT of one on ones for Dubby to stop,very few scrambles and chippy situations,teams will only be able to execute offense by challenging out goalie one-on-one through short rushes that are actually PRESSURE OUTLETS FOR US{we want it this way},which is ALWAYS to our advantage outside of the shootout which doesnt allow us to affect the dynamic at all.

    Really Dubby stats dont play into it for me because i havent seen him have a consistant system to work with ,EVER.And because his physical skillset is above average in the NHL for goaltenders he is perfectly suited to the NHS .I fail to see where stats or confidence are applicable when system suitability is all we need him to provide???We dont require anyone to do any more than an average NHLer—-I specificly designed the NHS to allow for this dynamic,so if you only need to be average in every way,where the heck does confidence or statistics come into play???

    The trick is to provide Dubby with predictable dynamics every game for 82 games,we are responsible for dictateing from whom and from where Dubby work will develop,HE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH it on a primary level,his effect is secondary,he just makes the save,all the important work happens before that,Dubby makeing a save from where and when our system dictates reflects sucess for Dubby,and for everyone,if Dubby has to consistantly make saves from non-outlet dynamics then we are relying on him to much systemwise,this is what MOST teams do,hence the dramatic goaltender perspective,again not opening up the chest cavity and looking inside when there is a problem.

    We are manned up for a Stanley Cup as we stand,every single piece of the puzzle is already in place except for the system decision.See where I put the pressure????WHERE IT BELONGS—-and that aint on the players folks,its on the Coaches and management,and their ability to steer the ship in the right direction—-we already have excellent rowers working hard.We require a superior system.

    • OilLeak

      Seriously, stop spamming this blog. You speak In vague terms and are extemely long winded, but come across like you know hockey better than the rest of the world.

    • DSF

      Oh yeah?

      Val Dillon that big heathen I first noticed him at dessert when I was cracking the nuts with my teeth I wished I could have picked every morsel of that chicken out of my fingers it was so tasty and browned and as tender as anything only for I didnt want to eat everything on my plate those forks and fishslicers were hallmarked silver too I wish I had some I could easily have slipped a couple into my muff when I was playing with them then always hanging out of them for money in a restaurant for the bit you put down your throat we have to be thankful for our mangy cup of tea itself as a great compliment to be noticed the way the world is divided in any case if its going to go on I want at least two other good chemises for one thing and but I dont know what kind of drawers he likes none at all I think didnt he say yes and half the girls in Gibraltar never wore them either naked as God made them that Andalusian singing her Manola she didnt make much secret of what she hadnt yes and the second pair of silkette stockings is laddered after one days wear I could have brought them back to Lewers this morning and kicked up a row and made that one change them only not to upset myself and run the risk of walking into him and ruining the whole thing and one of those kidfitting corsets Id want advertised cheap in the Gentlewoman with elastic gores on the hips he saved the one I have but thats no good what did they say they give a delightful figure line 11/6 obviating that unsightly broad appearance across the lower back to reduce flesh my belly is a bit too big Ill have to knock off the stout at dinner or am I getting too fond of it the last they sent from ORourkes was as flat as a pancake he makes his money easy Larry they call him the old mangy parcel he sent at Xmas a cottage cake and a bottle of hogwash he tried to palm off as claret that he couldnt get anyone to drink God spare his spit for fear hed die of the drouth or I must do a few breathing exercises I wonder is that antifat any good might overdo it the thin ones are not so much the fashion now garters that much I have the violet pair I wore today thats all he bought me out of the cheque he got on the first

  • Helmethead

    In A NUTSHELL : To many chiefs and not enough Indians on offence perhaps , but all Indians and no chiefs on defence . Goal tending encumbent on solid team play which last year was generally lacks . Our transition game poor except for maybe one offensive young line .

    Depth at center still on the low side , buts it’s the lack of defence unable to adequately help move the puck forward and join in offence that’s si in need of upgrade if we are to move onwards and upwards . Whitney is the closest but if he plays like last year he is of little value . Only having one , and it’s doubtful we have any , will keep us back in basement of league and do little to help the offensive stats of many of our elites .

    Our transition game in stark contrast to the old Oilers whom preyed on transition thanks to Coffey , etc . despite some defensive flaws . The team still has quite away to go just playing as a team .

    Top priority at this stage is an offensive defenceman even before another centerman . We do not have it now unless Marincin perhaps makes the grade . Lalegaggia is offensive ,but i only see him on powerply at best . So close to being dominant , yet so far away with glaring void on offensive defencemen .

  • @NewAgeSys

    We are manned up for a Stanley Cup as we stand,every single piece of the puzzle is already in place except for the system decision.

    This is one of those joke (Tolstoy-ian) posts, right? Because if it isn’t all I have to say is…MUA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    • Wax Man Riley

      It got me too!!

      Well my NHL13 last night says that we are manned up for a 1st round playoff exit to The Coyotes. Game 7 though.

      EDIT: If you haven’t played 13 yet, and like the NHL games, 13 is the best yet. The new skating and shooting feel great. The Oilers are actually pretty decent too. They made Hall a beast.

  • Calvin

    What’s going on here, LT? 3 consecutive articles and a NationRadio show? Is everyone else in the Nation on vacation right now? How did Wanye let the place get so shortstaffed?

    • B S

      It’s just that I don’t think anyone here is worried about Devan “The Pimp” Dubnyk next season. He shown he can be very good (better than Bernier, and Bernier is supposed to be prime starter material), has become positionally sound, and that’s good because he’s huge, doesn’t need to be fast, just get in the way.

      He also rarely lets in more than 3 goals, unless it’s a run and gun (think the games against Chicago), so if we get our offence going we won’t need anyone better. I see him as a Carey Price lite, lite on the talent, lite on the paycheck.

      If he bombs next season then we’re in the market for a new starter (how about Garon?), and Duby’s relegated to backup again.

  • B S

    Psychology is a huge part of any sport. Sometimes you get in the “zone” and the puck looks like a beach ball. Other times you might lose your confidence and you are fighting the puck. Of course, a person’s surroundings play a big part in how confident/comfortable an athlete feels.