BEGINNING OF THE END?

Devan Dubnyk is an interesting case study. He has proven he can play in the NHL, and make timely saves, however, he has also shown monumental lapses in focus that result in him allowing an easy goal, usually from 50-60 feet out. Last night, Dubnyk made four or five huge saves early in the game, when the Bruins were all over the Oilers. The Oilers need those types of saves from Dubnyk, but then in an instant all of those great saves are erased, and the team gets deflated when Dubnyk allows a Dennis Seidenberg floater from the blueline to make it 1-0.

The Oilers ended up trailing 3-0 after the first period, and while Dubnyk wasn’t at fault on the final two goals, he didn’t start the second period. Eakins explained his decision to change goalies, "It wasn’t a mercy pull, it wasn’t because the first one went in from far out, I just thought we needed to make a change in the net."

Eakins wisely didn’t throw his goalie under the bus, but I wonder if that goal was the beginning of the end of Dubnyk’s time in Edmonton?

Dubnyk has proven he can play in the NHL, but he’s also proven he susceptible to giving up weak goals. Every goalie will allow a weak goal, but Dubnyk has allowed them too often in 2013, and unless he goes 10-15 games without one, I’m not sure how much confidence the organization will have in him moving forward.

Will they re-sign him to be their starter next year? At this point, I think they only re-sign him at part of a tandem, I don’t see them starting next season with him as their clear cut number one.

Dubnyk’s struggles are mental mistakes, not physical ones, and it is very plausible that he could go to another market and play well. Some players need a change of scenery and a fresh start, but the Oilers need more consistent and reliable goaltending moving forward.

Let’s be clear, Dubnyk isn’t the only Oiler who struggles with consistency. The entire team is guilty of that, but the harsh reality of his position is that when he makes a mental mistake, it usually ends up in the back of the net. If a forward makes a dumb play at the offensive blueline, it often won’t result in a goal.

There is a lot of pressure on starting goalies, but they also receive lots of praise and money if they perform. Pressure is a major part of being a goalie, and unfortunately for Dubnyk, he has shown a tendency to lose his focus or succumb to the pressure of the position.

Last summer Craig MacTavish said, "If you have to ask the question, then you know the answer," when referring to whether or not Dubnyk was a proven starting goalie.

Seven months later, nothing has changed. Dubnyk is still battling "weak goalitis" and the Oilers aren’t any closer to knowing who their goalie of the future is.

Last season, despite allowing some weak goals Dubnyk still managed a very good 0.920 SV%, but this year he’s still giving up soft goals, but his SV% is 0.890. Teams can accept the odd weak goal, when your SV% is .920, but this season Dubnyk’s overall play has regressed.

I’ve learned that completely writing off a player who has shown he can excel in the league, can often bite you in the ass in the future. I’m not ready to suggest Dubnyk won’t be a solid NHL goalie, but I think the chance of that happening in Edmonton is diminishing by the day.

I’m not sure they will have the confidence to let him be their starter next season, but I also think a change of scenery could help Dubnyk.

The Oilers are looking for stability throughout their lineup, and at the end of the season, or before the trade deadline, I’m sure Eakins and MacTavish will have a conversation about which players the coach wants to keep, and which ones he’d rather not have heading into next season.

Right now, Dubnyk likely fits in the latter category, and unless the weak goals disappear from his repertoire over the next few months, he’ll stay there.

QUICK HITS… 

  • Luke Gazdic continues to give his team a boost when he drops the gloves, and with his overall play. Gazdic has been very good in his role as a pugilist, and he is getting better every game as a player. Gazdic’s teammates love his spirit and willingness to do a job that none of them, and none of us, would or could do.

    Gazdic doesn’t make mistakes in his own zone, and his skating is good enough to get around. When you look at players on the Oilers who accept their role, and perform it to the best of their ability every game, Gazdic is near the top of that list.

    It takes incredible courage to do what Gazdic does, especially against guys like Lucic, Bordeleau and McGratton, and the Oilers need more players to match his courage. Not as fighters, but as players willing to do anything and everything to help the team win.
     

  • David Perron just keeps getting better, and you hope that eventually his tenacity and determination rubs off on the other skilled forwards. Perron is gritty, greasy, chirpy and very skilled. He’s also being forced to learn how to play defence courtesy of the St. Louis Blues, and that reflects in his game. You don’t see Perron giving up the puck as often as the other skilled players. Perron is older than RNH, Hall, Eberle and Yakupov so experience likely plays a factor in that, but they should look at him to realize that playing good defence won’t limiting your scoring chances.
     
  • Jesse Joensuu has played much better the past two games. He is moving his feet and the past few games he’s started to use his big frame to make life difficult for opposing D-men. If he keeps playing like that, I think he’ll become a bigger factor in games.
     
  • Here is another example of why I love the spirit and generosity of Edmontonians. Yesterday on my show Michelle Derk generously donated her realtor commission when selling your house. We were near the end of the show and Patrick and Mick were in a bidding war at $4,500. Michelle text me and said if both agree to pay $5,000 (all proceeds went to charity) she would waive her commission on both their houses. She was losing out on potentially $15,000-$18,000 in commissions, but she wanted to help the charities.

    When I asked Patrick and Mick, without hesitation they both agreed, so we ended up raising $10,000 yesterday. That is unreal.

    If you are planning on selling you house in the near future, I highly recommend you call Michelle. She is a mother of three and her heart is in the right place. Michelle, Patrick and Mick you three made my day. Thank you.

DAY 11…MONTH OF GIVING…

After yesterday’s unreal $10,000 donations we are up to $42,950.00 in ten days. That is incredible.

Today’s package includes…

The Eskimos VIP Package:

  • Two seats in the Presidents Suite with Len Rhodes to watch the game.
  • Complimentary food and beverages all game.
  • Two signed Eskimos jerseys. You can pick which colour and which player’s jersey you want.
  • You will be chauffeured to and from the game in an Escalade courtesy of Budget Car and Truck Rentals.
     

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • reaperfunkss

    Dubnyk and timely saves and proven NHL goalie??? Get off the F&^%in Kool Aid. Name me other teams in the NHL that want Dubnyk as a starter in net please.

    The media discourse is so delusional cause seems like no one wants to actually call out management.

    Sad state

    • 2004Z06

      You can call out management until you are blue in the face. Clearly they aren’t interested in anyone but Tier 1 fans opinions. That does not include media.

  • CMG30

    DD has the physical tools to be a decent #1 in the NHL but it’s true that he loses the mental focus occasionally. It’s no secret that MacT wanted an upgrade in net over the summer but obviously he was unable to find one. So he gave the ball back to DD and let him run with it. With the signing of Bryz it must be obvious that the Oil were no longer comfortable with that.

    My only concern is that the Oilers need to be cautious about who they bring in. Even with these softies that keep floating in DD still brings more to the table than some would-be trades out there. As frustrating as it may be, I would still stick with DD unless a clear upgrade in net comes along. However, until he really shapes up his next contract must reflect his performance. The Oil can use the extra money to try and shore up their defense.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It feels like Dubnyk has gone past the point of return. He’s shown the capability, but the pressure and expectations here in Edmonton from the fans, from the management, and ultimately from the team (as things have progressed to the point of exasperation) has become too much. I think it would take an exceptionally resilient goalie to develop successfully under this sustained lack of success. We need someone who can just come in without the baggage and do the job.
    Dubnyk has too much baggage now – I hope he gets a fresh start somewhere as he seems like a really good guy. Either way, he wouldn’t be doing himself any favours going on twitter ever.

  • 2004Z06

    I think there is a disconnect between Gazdic’s performance, and your evaluation of it. If last game was his best game it’s pretty sad, because when he was on the ice, his line was outshot 6-2. On the year he is 3rd worst on the Oilers, only ahead of Acton and Lander, being outshot 127-83. This is with a majority of his starts in the offensive zone too.

    I guess it’s entertaining if he fights, if you are into that kind of stuff. But his fights motivate the other team, just as much as the Oilers. Fighting is a wash in terms of impacts on scoring (not my opinion, this was research by people a lot smarter than myself).

    Maybe Louie Debrusk has altered your perception (The same Louie Debrusk arrested for assault in Vancouver a couple years back while on the road as an analyst).

    • Jason Gregor

      How many goals has he been on against for? p>

      They gave up perimeter shots. Your perception only using shots for to evaluate him is can be misleading.

      Gazdic played three straight shifts against Lucic/Iginla line and they didn’t give up one scoring chance. He has improved.

      He adds something. You don’t have to agree with it, and if you base your argument on one stat, usually that leads to an incorrect assessment. You need to look at entire picture of what he does. I never said he was a major difference maker. I said he does he role very well, and is improving.

      • Prudham's

        Gazdic is a very weak NHL player. His on-ice save percentage has been unsustainably high, which is why his +/- isn’t massively negative. However, he struggles with receiving hard passes, and he regularly ices the puck because he struggles to exit his own zone.

        He provides almost NO scoring threat. He produces almost no scoring chances night after night. As MacTavish said at the end of last season, you can’t be a fourth liner and contribute to only one aspect of the game. You need to be a threat to score at least occasionally, and Gazdic just isn’t.

        I do applaud his courage, and last night’s fight was a benefit to the team, because we took a fourth liner off our roster in favour of a first liner for the other team. It’s the first of Gazdic’s nine fights that really adds much to the team, because the rest have pretty much all been fighting by appointment against another team’s designated puncher. There’s no advantage to the team from that.

        Like Acton, Gazdic is a player who struggles to contribute in a meaningful way at the AHL level (20 point career high in the minors). As such, it’s no surprise that he is over his head in the NHL.

        If he could take a first liner out of the mix for five minutes on a regular basis, he’d probably be worth keeping, but as it is, I think the Oilers should still be looking to upgrade their lineup and find a better fourth liner than him. Courageous or not, he’s just not a good hockey player. Without that, what does courage matter?

      • pkam

        @JasonGregor: So based on Hall’s overall performance last night, is he still on the list for Team Canada? I would think at this point with the 200ft effort Eberle puts in, he is already out. No?

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        That is a fair point. I just don’t see anything positive in what he actually does. I understand people like the guy, and like watching him fight, but liking him is different from being an NHL player.

        I don’t see how you say all the shots are from the perimeter, as that simply isn’t true. Michael Parkatti from Boys on the Bus has compiled shot distances for Oilers over the year. Gazdic when on the ice has the longest average shot distance for at 51.5 feet. When on the ice, he also has the shortest shot distance against on the team at 21.7 feet.

        It’s not just one stat. He isn’t good. He is bad. I wish I could find scoring chance data as well, because last time I saw, he was last in scoring chances for and against too. On top of this, he has 1 goal and 1 assist all year.

        I’m all for effective grinders. Gazdic is simply not effective at anything besides hitting people after the puck is gone, and fighting.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Honestly, I feel his teammates prefer him out of the lineup because they would rather have a teammate in the lineup that can help them win. Even they would prefer a teammate on the 4th line who could kill penalties so top 6 guys wouldn’t have to.

            There could be an argument that some like him in the lineup so he could fight instead of them, which is probably true to some extent. But when he is out of the lineup, it’s not like other teams pick on us any more or less than when he is in the lineup. Also, most guys never fight anyway, so I don’t see fighting as a big deal.

            Just my opinion there because I have no clue what other individuals think. Obviously if someone in the media asked, they would never say bad things about a teammate.

          • Jason Gregor

            If you honestly think they want Gazdic out of the lineup, that illustrates you don’t understand the emotional aspect of the game, or actually believe it isn’t an important factor.

            The players love him, especially because he doesn’t hurt them defensively. He doesn’t turn the puck over.

            Players have told me who they like and who they don’t. They don’t want more players who look good on advanced stats on 4th line, but don’t hit, don’t fight and bring no emotion. This team has enough of those guys. That is a fact. You don’t have to believe it, but I’ve spoke to players about it.

          • BLAKPOO

            Did you not notice, that not only the Oilers played better after the fight the crowd really got into it. Gadzic works in the of season with Gary Roberts and on TV the other day Gary said that Luke is a player and will keep improving. If you played contact competitive hockey everyone feels better with a Luke Gadzic on their team and at least you have to admit he can skate and doesn’t take dumb penalties.

          • Jason Gregor

            Interesting, didn’t know Gadzic was in Roberts program…[ which is very strong ].

            With all do respect I think someone like Nuge and Eberle would benefit from signing up with Roberts… he has helped others including Stamkos.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            Disagree the fight had any impact on the game. If it did, every losing team would be fighting more often, and winning teams would never fight. Oilers were playing good before the fight, they played good after the fight. Saying a fight impacted another player is pretty ridiculous.

            I don’t think Gazdic will improve. His skating is blow average. I do agree he doesn’t take dumb penalties, and he has drawn more than taken this year. But if that is what you are pointing to as his positive qualities, he is obviously a bad player. For a good player, even a grinder, we say they have x points, at least some offence. We say they take on tough competition, and hold their own. We say they win faceoffs, kill penalties, are good on the forecheck, generate chances. Gazdic does none.

            Why can’t people just admit they like watching him as a fighter? The case for him as even close to NHL replacement level is laughable. I ask you, if he didn’t fight, could he make a single NHL team?

          • Johnnydapunk

            Well I guess we can agree to disagree otherwise life would be boring.
            The fight did have an impact,it kept Lucic of the ice for five minutes and picked up the atmosphere in the building and on the bench.
            Gadzic is an above average skater for someone his size and he has as many even strength goals as Yakapov and was leading the team in plus minus.
            I personally only like a fight if there is a reason for it, and yes in hockey there is, I absolutely hate the Ray Emery and the last Shawn Thorton muggings.
            I have a question for you;do think Lucid was drafted as a power forward or a tough guy?

  • Zarny

    This season was always going to be the trial of Devan Dubnyk.

    Going into the season Dubnyk had been a middle-third starter without ever having started more than 42 games in a season.

    Probably good enough to make the playoffs but not win the Stanley Cup. And so far this season nothing I’ve seen changes that assessment.

    I do think ultimately he should be evaluated on a full season’s body of work. Luongo might not play in the NHL based on some of his Octobers.

    Of course, we are closer to Christmas than Halloween. If the soft goals and mental lapses continue I agree 100% the Oilers won’t resign him as an undisputed starting goalie.

    An upgrade though might not be forthcoming. A middle-third start is still better than a lot of G. The list of available goalies better than Dubnyk is a short one.

  • 2004Z06

    Other players are starting to take notice of Gazdic. That should mean our players can go out and play how they want knowing someone on the bench has their back. Everyone should play as big as Perron

  • Spoils

    My hope was that the Oil could ride Dubnyk until they became a contender.I’ve always seen him as a clutch backup. He has tended to play best when there is another viable goalie in the mix.

    Hopefully Bryz can get healthy and take over, because at this point Dubnyk is dead to me. Brutal to say, seems like a great guy, but we beat the Bruins without him. And if he had stayed in I felt like he would have let in a couple more.

    Remember when Jusse got the oilers to game 7, and LaBarbs last night, that is CLUTCH backup and Dubs was going to be that guy, back story etc.

    Brutes.

    • Zarny

      That’s more urban myth than reality.

      No question you need goaltending to win the Stanley Cup but it doesn’t have to come first and often doesn’t.

      Chicago has won 2 of the last 4 Stanley Cups with different goalies. Neither were in place for long before the Cup run.

      LA didn’t build from the net out. They had Kopitar, Brown and Doughty contributing before Quick. Bos stumbled upon Tim Thomas after landing Chara. Detroit certainly didn’t build any of their teams from the net out.

  • v4ance

    I’ve been a supporter of DD from day one but just can’t be anymore.

    These soft goals are killing us. I thought he would get over that by now but ….

    Looking forward to finding someone better in free agency or a trade.

    There has to be someone out there who’s available.

    Is There??

  • v4ance

    The beginning of the end was the hiring of Mac T,
    Dubynk is just not mentally tough enough to be a #1, that goal last night was the the worse of all his softies, it makes you wonder if he has a vision problem.

    • camdog

      His positioning obviously isn’t good enough. Whether it’s his abilites, his vision or the coaching I guess we well see next year when he’s playing on a better hockey team as a back up with a better goalie coach.

    • 2004Z06

      I thought it was just me,good to know I am not alone,i don’t even want to watch when dubnyk is in net,it’s gotten that bad,so yes please start anybody but him already.

  • Puck_In_Throat

    Far too often this season Dubnyk has been only the second best goaltender on the ice. Goaltending isn’t the only issue but it is an issue. Like some other Oilers who have been around for lots of this losing, maybe a change of scenery is needed.

    Perron’s experience and time with the Blues has definitely helped him become a better player. I’m hopeful that he rubs off on players like Hall, Yakupov and Eberle. I’m not sure what Gagner’s excuse is at this point, he’s Perron’s age and he looks incredibly lost out there right now.

  • It’s not that Dubnyk lets in softies as much as when. It always seems to happen at the time when it’s most catastrophic to an already fragile team. As a group we’re not mentally tough enough to suck up those body blows. Any team is OK with a decent shot going in, but the calibre of the soft shots Dubnyk lets in is shockingly bad and that’s what does the damage. Guys are killing themselves to compete and it looks like their goalie was texting from the paint. Buddy lets a flipper go from the blue line and it goes in??? Unacceptable.

    He may be an OK goalie, but I think the reality is that this team needs an above average goalie until the point where we can address some of our defensive “deficiencies”*.

    *Sucky D-men who wouldn’t play on alot of top level teams

    • John Chambers

      i originally propped this cause you made some really good points. then i re-read and saw “Guys are killing themselves to compete…….” ha.

      where are all these guys? we could use them on the Oilers.

    • v4ance

      “Guys are killing themselves to compete”

      This team seriously lacks in their compete level. They show it at times, but not nearly consistently enough. There are a lot of players on this team that disappear for long stretches.

  • Puck_In_Throat

    Honestly I believe that the “beginning of the end” happened about 20 games ago when the Oil recalled Bachman, gave him a couple starts, then went and got Bryz.

    I’m a strong believer that actions speak louder than words, and MacT made a serious statement this summer by signing a career backup (LaBarbera). That said “Dubnyk is the man, and we expect him to carry the load”.

    MacT made a serious backtrack on that statement when he went and got Bryzgalov. That move says “Dubnyk cannot handle the load, and needs to split time with a 1B goalie”.

    Dubnyk will not be back.

    • camdog

      Mact’s statement this off season- “if you have to ask the question, you know the answer” in response to whether DD was the man.

      Mac-t never stated that DD was the man, and Mact never made any backtracks in this respect, he tried to trade for Bernier and Schneider, however both teams demanded a kings ransom from the Oilers.

  • v4ance

    I was thinking over the night that Dubnyk is the modern day version of Patrick Lalime. Good goalie who appears great for stretches and then lets in that one key deflating soft goal at the worst time to derail his team’s hopes.

  • emonkee

    Jason, in your opinion, who should we target for in terms of goalie? Would you
    1)consider Hiller (UFA)
    2)through the trade route, anyone in particular? or;
    3) wait to see if Bryz can handle the load?

    • John Chambers

      Given they handed out 3.5m to Dubnyk you’d have to think that they’d be willing to give out 6-6.5m/year for a consistent proven starter like Hiller.

  • Prudham's

    I think the Boston game was the end of the beginning of the end. And once you’re through the beginning of the end, we all know that there’s really very little middle of the end or end of the end afforded to you.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    What I don’t agree with is, you’re stating your conclusion, referring to the outcome of a game and the potential impact of a clutch save, as “it is not nearly as important as save percentage” and you’re stating that conclusion as a certainty…..which by way of fact, it is not.

    But isn’t it true?

    Stopping more pucks is infinitely more important than whether we classify them as “clutch” or not.

    Letting in more goals is infinitely more important than whether we classify them as “soft” or not.

    This may be a generalization, but I don’t think it is one we need to register complaint about.

    While a team probably suffers from the costs/benefits of “soft goals” and “clutch saves”, I’m guessing they suffer even more from the aggregate, i.e., did you actually stop a lot of damn shots or not, which leads to winning.

    Also, you provide no analysis on the potential correlation between clutch saves and save percentage.

    As for the rest of your comment, if I omit something it isn’t intentional and the nature of a good conversation should allow for others to add, subtract and build.

    I’m not aware of a correlation between “clutch” and sv% or how it would be expressed. If you come up with something I’d certainly be interested in it. I certainly haven’t left it out for some malicious reason.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    1. it is a fact. sv% is more important than classifying goals “soft” or otherwise… if winning is the object.

    2. it is a generalization. and that’s fine. We take particular events and gain general information. if you have a problem with this, fire away, it’s not a fight I will challenge you on as it is so commonplace as to not bother with objections.

    3. we agree.

    4. omit what? you haven’t made this case for some correlation between “soft” goals and sv%. I’ve told you I’d hear it out. Why is the burden on me to make it for you?

    5. My “data set” is sv%. I argued it more important in evaluating goalies than “wins” or “soft goals”… this is widely acknowledged stuff here.

    This is a horrible game so far. I don’t think any Oiler fan could possibly enjoy this…. beyond the fact that at least hockey is on tv.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Maybe the problem here is that you’re too soft on yourself with respect to your language.

    Point one…you ask isn’t it true……I say it’s not a fact.

    Point two…..you say…this may be a generalization….I say it is a generalization.

    Point three you say…a team probably suffers from soft goals….I say it’s a fact that they suffer from soft goals

    Point four….you say you omit in good nature..not malicious….I say simply …you omit.

    Point five…you blame media types for propagandizing , sensationalizing, exaggerating the value or importance of certain events…..I blame you of doing exactly the same thing with you’re use of data sets……you’re both drawing false conclusions from limited sets of data…..so in that respect, you’re a hypocrite.

    Im trying to be respectful in tone. And I am sincere when I say that I hope you enjoy the game tonight.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I agree.

    What I don’t agree with is, you’re stating your conclusion, referring to the outcome of a game and the potential impact of a clutch save, as “it is not nearly as important as save percentage” and you’re stating that conclusion as a certainty…..which by way of fact, it is not.

    Also, you provide no analysis on the potential correlation between clutch saves and save percentage.

    Finally, I really wouldn’t nit pick so much except for the fact that it’s a common theme in most of your posts here. Where you draw conclusions that go beyond the statical analysis provided and more importantly are in error by omission frequently, because you seldom if ever consider or talk about the relationships and causal affects that specific sets of statistics and specific relevant circumstances have on each other (ie. correlation). You refer only to stats/ data that is easily attainable and disregard or minimize all other factors for which the data is not readily available. That, for lack of better words, is just bad science.

    That’s my beef.

    But like I said….if you want to acknowledge that your just generalizing based on limited data sets….then I’m good with that.

    Edit: Just don’t be pompous about it.