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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  • ubermiguel

    If Bachman can play that like on a semi-consisent basis, he won the starting job, let alone the backup.
    He looked more comfortable out there than Dubnyk ever has, even when Dubnyk’s played well.

  • ubermiguel

    1 great game earns you a 2nd game, not the job.

    And does everyone remember that 0-0 game Cujo played against Detroit? That was the best low scoring game I may have ever seen.

  • I’m not going to put the cart before the horse and hand Bachman the #1 spot, because it’s just one game, but damn was he stellar in that game. Give him a few more reps and some back-to-back starts, and let’s see where it goes.

    This guy had a great camp and even Eakins said that he only lost out on the backup spot because Duby and Barbs where Goaltenders with NHL history. At this point, he may have just played his way into that backup role at the very least, and it’s great to see someone with promise finally coming up through the ranks that isn’t a Forward.

  • pkam

    This is what it has come to after 5 years of bottom feeding – our team’s only hope is that their AHL call-up goalie,(called up because the 2 goalies the astute management signed apparently can’t stop a beachball), has a career game. And he does. After getting their collective butts handed to them all over the ice, he stops nearly 50 shots. And they still lose. But they “almost” win. And this “almost” is counted by everyone as a success. And their fitness freak coach says in the post game presser, “I thought we played really well but we ran out of gas”. “Really well.” What happens if we just play well. Or average.4-1? 8-1?

    And now we have to face the Leafs, with a building half full of drunk Leaf fans rubbing it in our faces because they have actually accomplished a rebuild. They actually have a team that is tough to play against. Anyone want my tickets? I can’t stomach the thought of going.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I honeslty don’t care who is in net….just stop the damn puck!

    If its Labby, Dubby or Bach……..pick 2 and go with it.

    The problem is it may already be too late to turn the season around.

    The Kings proved last night that the Oilers are too small. They need bigger, heavier bodies to compete in their division.

    Once you pick 2 goalies it may be time for MacT to move one of the skilled kids to get some size that can play. I would never have said that going into this season but it seems inevitable this needs to happen.

    • Mikey

      Thanks Captain Obvious !! teams aren’t trading big forwards, even if you are going to substantially over pay. Big players don’t grow on trees. They’re like “bonified” starting goalies(although, it has been quite some time since we’ve seen one in these parts). Even then, knowledgeable players won’t come here. This organization is a complete and utter gongshow. The Oiler brass are more worried about putting on a tv show than building this team correctly. The scouts seem to be addressing the problem but only time will tell. We are paying for years of bad drafting and inept management. Please Mr. Messier, will u being us back to glory. We asked 6 rings, but said rings must be plugging ears.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins


    Have you ever thought about actually watching the game?

    The game is played on the ice and not the stat sheet.

    Dubnyk has been a siv, and the Oilers are not better than their record, they are their record.

    What is sadder than the oilers play of late is the lengths you will contort yourself to defend this team through statistics.

  • Jonathan,

    Have you ever thought about actually watching the game?

    The game is played on the ice and not the stat sheet.

    Dubnyk has been a siv, and the Oilers are not, better than their record, they are their record.

    What is sadder than the oilers play of late is the lengths you will contort yourself to defend this team through statistics.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      You are exactly right on with your comments.

      Furthermore JW, are you saying with your title of this writeup that Edmonton has a starting goalie? I have yet to see one.

      I hope bachman makes Dubnyk regret wasting the trillion chances this management team has given him.

      • ubermiguel

        Johnathan, we have to quit putting so much value on save%, GA average for goaltenders that played in an organization that are defence first, does anyone really think that Mike Smith would have a $6mil contract if he would have played for the Oil the last two years? The biggest mistake made on the Labarbara signing is he is Dubynk’s buddy, this is not a good arrangement and there were better options.

  • RomZ

    Bachman looked very calm in net. His rebound control was very impressive, he made his first start as an oiler look very routine like it was just another day at the office.

    He’s earned himself another start for sure.

  • Concur

    The 48 hour exemption rule means that they may have more than 23 on the roster? Then they have to send someone else out or put some one on IR. he deserves a second start with his performance. To send him down after that will show the wrong message.
    I’m not saying that Labarbara has to be sent down, but the Oilers do have to find out what they can expect from their goal tenders.

  • GoofyGoon69

    I believe Bachman just won the starting job Looks better then any other option the Oil has had in net in the past 4 years. Its only one game but I say roll with him