Did Richard Bachman just win the Oilers’ backup job?

The Edmonton Oilers have been looking all season for somebody they could count on to play moderately well in net. They didn’t necessarily need a goalie to steal them games, just competent performances that would give the team a chance to win.

They got a lot more than that last night from Richard Bachman.

47 Saves

Regardless of what he does from here on out, Bachman wrote himself into the record books with a 47 save performance on Sunday night. It’s only the fourth time in Oilers history that a goaltender has made 45 saves while allowing one or fewer goals, and it puts Bachman in pretty good company:

  • Bill Ranford on Dec. 8, 1993: Made 45 saves in a 1-1 tie against the New York Rangers.
  • Curtis Joseph on Dec. 10, 1996: Made 52 saves in a 0-0 tie against the Detroit Red Wings.
  • Dwayne Roloson on Mar. 16, 2008: Made 48 saves in a 2-1 win against the San Jose Sharks.
  • Richard Bachman on Oct. 27, 2013: Made 47 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss against the Los Angeles Kings.

Not a bad impression for Bachman to make in his first start for his new team.

The Goaltending Situation

Edmonton faces some tough choices here, because it’s a good bet they don’t want to visit the three-headed goaltending days of years past. Whether it was the Conklin-Markkanen-Morrison trio in 2005-06 or Roloson-Garon-Deslauriers in 2008-09 it never seems to work; not only is roster flexibility reduced but it just doesn’t make sense to carry three guys when one is going to get most of the games.

Devan Dubnyk, who is currently out with a minor injury, seems to be regaining his form of past seasons and based on his long-term track record should get more minutes than either of the Oilers’ other options. After that is where things get interesting.

Jason LaBarbera has been rough in his four starts for Edmonton. Despite some of the comments these days, he was actually quite good in Phoenix (he had a 0.923 save percentage last year and his numbers overall were solid in all four years) and a very reasonable bet for the backup role. The question now is two-fold: a) has he fallen off a cliff at age 33 and b) even if he hasn’t, how long can the Oilers afford to let him find his game?

Richard Bachman has some advantages over LaBarbera. For starters, he costs less against the salary cap; even adding in the $75,000 cost of burying LaBarbera in the minors the Oilers would save $300,000 with him as backup over a full season. Bachman’s also younger (he turned 26 this summer) and has played very well for both Edmonton and Oklahoma this season. The disadvantage is his long-term track record: he’s only been a 0.906 save percentage goalie over 33 NHL games and posted a lousy 0.885 save percentage for Dallas last season.

The Oilers don’t have a lot of time to make a choice. I haven’t seen official confirmation of this, but my guess is that Edmonton recalled Bachman under the 48-hour exemption rule. As Rich Chere of The Star Ledger explains, a team is allowed to recall a goalie for 48 hours without needing to put a mildly injured player on the IR list. If that’s the case, Edmonton’s already almost out of time to make a decision.

Depending on perspective, Bachman’s performance made that decision either extremely easy or extremely difficult.

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  • njdevilsfan_!7

    Also I had a disturbing thought recently.
    From top to bottom, Klowe, MacT,Eakins,and the players have talked about playing a fast exciting brand of hockey. They all believe that this is a good way to win and its just a matter of time until we turn the corner.
    If it turns out that fast exciting hockey and the systems that are in place to allow said hockey just arent viable then we are more screwed than I thought.
    I guess to compensate for the negative chances created by our offense we need a star goalie.

    Live by the sword, >Die by the Sword

    • Bleak Winter

      You’re disturbing thought is probably more like a dawning realization of the truth. All one has to do is watch the post game interviews of Tippett and Sutter from the Oilers games against Phoenix and LA.

      Sure, they pay lip service to the speed and skill of the Oilers like its mandated by the league or something, but its getting easier to hear the subtext – and some of it is pretty blatant – there is little regard to Oilers brand of hockey as even being hockey at all. Small sample size sure, but they can’t be the only two coaches in the league who regard Oilers as little more than a nuisance match.

  • Bleak Winter

    With all the letdown we Oil fans have experienced again this year thus far, I am hoping like hell we do not loose to the horrible leafs. One of the two teams I absolutely hate. GO OIL GO!

  • Bleak Winter

    THis guy is always square to the shooter, challenging, and NOT giving up rebounds.

    Dubby is always hiding deep in his net flopping around like a wounded fish…….I know who I would want in net.

    If the name of the game is puck stopping then this is our man. There is one small problem with the overwhelming support for this guy that being Eakins. I’m not sure if Bachmans style of play supports what Eakins is trying with his system of play?