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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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  • 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 


  • Quicksilver ballet

    Only in Edmonton could something like this happen. How many kids/coaches/GM’s would even have jobs if it weren’t for this B market/ nobody else wanting to come here.

    Dubnyk @ 3.5, he’ll be a 1 mill per season back up next yr.

    Gagner @ 4.8 Buy him out. 3rd line at best on a good team. Already been replaced by Arcobello.

    Hemsky @ 5.0 Will play for less than half that next season elsewhere.

    Chasing hope comes at a price. We supported it, now just shut up and continue to buy the tickets/merchandise for this laughing stock franchise.

    Kevin Lowe is the Matt Millen of the NHL. What a putz.

    Happy positive Friday all…

    • Zarny

      Ridiculous.

      Your point about a B market is valid. Like it or not, it’s hard to convince players to come to Edm.

      Dubnyk I’m afraid will play for a lot more than $1M next season. That, quite frankly, is absurd.

      Buy out Gagner at $4.8M with only 2 years left? Beyond absurd. It’s laughable how some of you hit the panic button. I can only assume you think Phi should buy out Giroux too.

      Like it or not, Gagner’s career pt/gm puts him over 50 pts which is well within the top 60 C in the league every year. He has defensive and face-off deficiencies to be sure but you’re a fool if you think he’s a 3rd line C on most good teams. I don’t think Gagner compliments Nuge well and I do think he should be traded but half the league will be interested in him considering he’s just entering his prime.

      • 2004Z06

        Please explain your math? Gagner has never reached 50 pts. in a season. His best season was his first where he amassed 49 pts. playing predominantly on the wing! Even if you include the “on pace” B.S. from last year and this year over the rest of the season, he averages 48 pts. a season.

        And just a reminder, on pace is not actual. Injuries, slumps etc. are not accounted for in “on pace” calculations. Kind of like how a once in a lifetime 8 pt. game isn’t.

        Take away that 8 pt. game last year and make it a 2 pt. game (reasonable expectation) and his career average drops to 46 pts.

        • Zarny

          You need to brush up on your math skills.

          Sam Gagner – 269 pts/434 games = 0.6198 pts/gm

          X 82 games = 50.824 pts

          So yes, it’s an “on pace” calculation. If you think that’s BS good for you.

          And “on pace” BS or not…Gagner finished 34th in league scoring last year. 18th for C which is 1st line production albeit in a shortened season.

          You’re right injuries are not accounted for in “on pace” but slumps are. Whatever slumps Gagner has had are fully included in the 434 NHL games he’s played.

          Regardless of whether you want to play semantics, Gagner’s production puts him in the top 60 C in the league which is 2C.

          He had 38 pts in 48 games last year. Are you really going to try to argue he wasn’t going to get 12 pts in 34 games?

          • 2004Z06

            Nope, but I will happily argue he wouldn’t end up with 65!….You know…on pace for.

            And my math skills are just fine. My calculations were based on how it is documented in the NHL’s books via a per season average, not a per game average divided by games per season, but feel free to manipulate the numbers to your hearts content….

            Are you DSF?

          • 2004Z06

            So you used games played….. I used average per season.

            How is it recorded in the NHL’s books?

            Not going to split hairs with you, but the point is Gagner at 4.8 per is a significant overpay.

            If we factor in that he allows 2 goals against for every one he scores, the picture becomes even clearer.

            We certainly don’t need to mention his face off % or his +/- or his inability to win a puck battle or backcheck.

            Love the stats guys!

            Points alone does not an effective NHL’er make.

          • STIXLER

            I think this goes back to the right mix of players.
            I fully believe Gagner is redundant on this team so agree he is overpaid by us…as the money could be better spent on other areas of weakness. Without me doing any research you would probably find he is middle of the pack based solely on point production. but as you said “points alone do not an NHLer make

      • Quicksilver ballet

        So really, the only thing we disagree on is the Gagner issue. Even you have to admit there are a few warts in Sammy’s game.

        Just like there are fake tough guys in the game today, there are also fake good guys. Sam is one of those guys.

        Top 60 in the league, this league sure isn’t what it use to be since expansion.

    • John Chambers

      You’re 100% correct on all accounts.

      Hemsky has impressed me this year, but I also think they could easily get much greater value out of $5M than he.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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??

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 2004Z06

    You can see the difference between Bryz and Dubnyk.

    Dubnyk seems to take half a second to realize where his rebounds are and doesn’t seem to be that agile, his form is good but his compete is lazy.

    Bryz looked a bit sketchy in his first game but had compete, he also knew where his rebounds would be to me that was NHL goaltending and I forgot what it looked like its been so long. + the man funny.

  • 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Gregor what was Ganger doing last night on the second goal when he was standing in front of Lucic screening Dubnyk? Doing the flamingo and not tying up Lucic’s stick. This guy is terrible in his own end. I was glad to finally see him lose his spot to Arcobello last night. Also Eberle had a pathetic back checking effort on the short handed goal. Those two mistakes and Dubnyk’s softie cost us the game.

  • CMG30

    A couple of trade ideas:

    Acquire Craig Anderson while his value is low. Offer Doobie in return, he has an expiring contract.

    Acquire Del Zotto or Brian Campbell or even Errhoff while their values are low. Offer Gagner.

    • Zarny

      Unlikely Ott trades Anderson and goes with Lehner and Dubnyk as a tandem. Certainly wouldn’t be Anderson for Dubnyk straight up. Not to mention Anderson hasn’t been any better than Dubnyk this year but is 5 years older.

      Del Zotto and Campbell are not the type of D the Oilers need. McDonagh or Girardi would be much, much better.

      Ehrhoff isn’t a shutdown D but would certainly improve the Oilers blueline. You’ll have to give up a lot more than Gagner tho.

  • 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.