Nights like last night are why I love my job. Sports can be brutal, unforgiving, painful and heart wrenching, but it can also be electrifying, courageous, record-setting, breathtaking, fun and completely unexpected.
Ben Scrivens’ performance last night was all of the latter, and it was AWESOME.
During the past eight years I’ve been asked a lot if I get sick of covering losing teams and discussing it with fans. I’ve never said yes, because I don’t, but also because while being in a losing sports town is no fun for anyone, every day brings a new opportunity and story line.
Last night, Scrivens performed one the best story lines I’ve ever seen.
I was at Rexall Place almost two years ago, February 3rd, 2012, when Sam Gagner scored eight points. He scored on five consecutive shifts at one point. The atmosphere and energy in the building was incredible, and tonight was just as good, and maybe even better.
Scrivens grew up just of Edmonton in Spruce Grove, and last night I felt like the fans were cheering for one of their own. The fans were incredible. However, I think they’ll need to come up with a new chant, because Scrivens, Scrivens doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Maybe Benny, Benny… Or Prof, Prof, Prof, since his nickname is The Professor.
But they were into this game, and from the start of the second period you could tell they sensed Scrivens was in the zone. The jubilation and excitement grew as the game went on, and on twitter and here in the Nation I could see the pure excitement and adulation from the fans.
You loved every minute of it, despite the fact the Sharks were dominating your team, and for one night that is how it should be.
It was not a banner night for the skaters, but I think it would be impossible to set an NHL record for most saves in a shutout, 59, if your teammates were playing great. You can’t have both.
It was a shooting gallery at times. The Sharks directed 100 pucks towards the net, which is more than 1.5 per minute, but Scrivens stopped them all, and got some help from his teammates.
"Nick Schultz blocked a shot from the slot with five or six minutes to go. That was a shot that was going in. You win as a team," said a humble Scrivens. The elder Schultz might have helped him there, but for most of the game this was all the Scrivenator. (Picture courtesy of Dylan Lynch)
Those were just a few of Scrivens best saves. The crazy part about his game was how many ten-bell stops he made to preserve the shutout. It wasn’t like the Sharks were shooting from just shooting from the outside.
My only beef about the game was that he wasn’t named all three stars like Gagner was in 2012. Scrivens set an NHL record, and he displayed the best regular season goaltending performance in the history of the game. I think that was equal to Gagner’s 8-point night, but that is a small detail.
Sure, the Oilers defensive zone play was ugly, and after a dominant performance in Vancouver on Monday the second line was horrific last night, but that just adds to the memories.
According to boysonthebus.com David Perron was a team-worst 9% and -29 in Corsi. That is almost comical, because it helps illustrates the difference in performance from Scrivens to the rest of the team. Dallas Eakins pointed out that RNH’s line relieved the pressure sometimes, but they too had some ugly post-game stats.
Through it all, however, the fans were into the game. That was the loudest Rexall Place has been since Gagner’s epic third period, and their appreciation for Scriven’s performance was extremely noticeable.
As I stood outside the Oilers dressing room waiting to do post-game interviews, the fans streamed past me and their faces told the story. Everyone was smiling, and most were still in awe of what they just saw.
In another season of SUCK, last night was a welcome reprieve and one the loyal fans deserved, whether you were in the building or watching at home.
Last night was one of those games that make being a fan worthwhile, and for a media member I was very lucky to have witnessed it. I gave away four sets of tickets to the game on my show yesterday, and this morning I received an email or twitter message from three of the winners.
All of them were extremely thankful to have had the chance to watch history. Usually most winners don’t send a reply, which is understandable, but last night was so memorable those in attendance were pumped, excited and thankful to have witnessed it.
For one day we should relish and discuss Scriven’s incredible performance. We likely we never see anything like it again.
One final note…The Sharks have had 40+ shots 12 times, and in those 12 five times they were 50+.
Phoenix and Buffalo… 51
Phoenix and Ottawa…50
Colorado and Pittsburgh…45
UPDATE….Here is a video of all 59 saves Scrivens made…Classic.