Ilya Bryzgalov will start tonight in New Jersey. The stats suggest it makes sense to start him instead of going back-to-back with Ben Scrivens, but considering the Oilers are winning by getting out shot, I wonder if combining that along with going back to Scrivens would guarantee a win.
We’ll never know, but it is good to look at the possibilities.
I looked at the top-ten goalie leaders in wins to see how many times they played back-to-back and how they fared:
Goalie… result SV% saves
Fleury L .902 stopped 18 of 21
Niemi W .903 stopped 28 of 31
Varlamov W .926 stopped 25 of 27
Bishop W .941 stopped 48 of 51 (played night before allowed 5 goals)
Bishop W .933 stopped 28 of 30
Rask L .750 stopped 9 of 12 and was pulled.
Rask W .977 stopped 43 of 44
Rask W .915 stopped 21 of 23
Price L .943 stopped 33 of 35 (had exact same stats night before)
Price L .846 stopped 22 of 26 (had identical SV% and GAA night before)
Hiller W 1.000 stopped 22 of 22
Hiller W .955 stopped 42 of 44
Mason W .944 stopped 34 of 36
Crawford W .935 stopped 29 of 31
Crawford W .958 stopped 23 of 24 (allowed 5 goals the previous night)
Crawford W .826 stopped 19 of 23 (defeated the Oilers)
CrawFord OTL .900 stopped 27 of 30
Most coaches don’t go back-to-back very often, but in these 17 instances with the top goalies their combined record was 12-4-1 with a .917 SV%.
It should be noted that Price’s two back-to-back situations came on January 25th and February 2nd. He had been struggling so Michel Therrien went against the grain to try and get him out of a funk. It was odd to see Price have the exact same stats in the first and second games. In the January sets he was bad on both nights and lost both games, but on February 1st and 2nd he had .944 and .943 SV% on consecutive nights, and allowed only two goals both nights.
Jon Cooper went back to Bishop after he allowed five goals the night before. He wanted his starter to bounce back and he did with a huge 48 save performance. Joel Quenneville did the same thing with Crawford this year and he rewarded his coach with a strong effort the second night.
Eric T from NHLnumbers.com wrote a very indepth piece on the drop in SV% on the second night of back-to-backs, so I understand why Eakins is going with Bryzgalov, but the above numbers show that winning teams will go with their starter a few times a year on consecutive nights. This year they have had success doing it, and I’m sure it helps when you are on a good team, but it shows that coaches do go with gut feel sometimes and won’t always play the odds.
Scrivens has the highest SV%, .937, amongst goalie who has started 20+ games, and the only time he played back-to-back this year he was perfect. He stopped all 26 shots in a 2-0 Kings victory, and two days later he shutout the Rangers as well.
After beating the Rangers again last night, I wouldn’t have had an issue at all if Eakins went back to Scrivens.
Sometimes you have to go against the odds, just like I predicted in yesterday’s GDP and OGDP. That might have been my best prediction ever.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: This is a low scoring affair, and the Oilers continue to buck the shooting trend with a 2-1 victory. Gagner scores just to add fuel to the trade speculation.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Rangers outshoot the Oilers. Scrivens has faced an average of 39 shots in his five starts with the Oilers, but tonight he gets an “easier” night facing only 36.
The Oilers didn’t skate this morning, but Jack Michaels hinted there would be one forward change. Maybe it is simply Joensuu back in for Jones or possibly something else. Likely on the 4th line, unless someone in the top-nine got banged up last night.
- A rare twitter mistake by Gene Principe last night when he jumped the gun tweeting out that Ryan Smyth was now top-100 in goals. Smyth scored his 384th goal last night, but Patrick Elias has scored four in the last two weeks and he sits 100th with 386.
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the seaon last night, and he is on pace to get 50 for the 5th time in his career, and when he does he will join a very select group of players who have scored 50 goals five times.
Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy did it 9 times.
Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux did it 6 times.
Bobby Hull, Phil Esposito, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Pavel Bure did it 5 times.
- Since 2005/2006 there has been 17 occasions where a player scored 50 goals.
Ovechkin has done it 4 times.
Steven Stamkos, Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley did it twice.
Jonathan Cheechoo, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lecavalier, Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry and Evgeni Malkin did it once.
- Despite playing in an era where goals are hard to come by Ovechkin has still produced, and at a rate better than everyone except Steven Stamkos. He has a realistic shot to become only the 3rd player in NHL history to have seven 50-goal seasons. I hope he gets there.
- I’ve had many fans text the show and I’ve seen some people write how Nail Yakupov’s one-timer is similar to Ovechkin. Yakupov shoots the puck hard, but he isn’t close to the goal scorer Oveckhin is. That isn’t a knock on Yakupov, because Ovie is one of the greatest goal scorers the NHL has ever seen , but stop comparing the two. They aren’t close. Ovechkin is much better at finding an open spot, plus his shot is much harder. He regularly beats goalies from above the hash marks.
- Here is a shot chart of Nail Yakupov (goals in red) courtesy of somekindofninja.com. You will notice that Yakupov has one goal from outside the top of the circles. Now look at Ovechkin’s shot and goal chart. He has 12 goals from outside the top of the circle. To beat today’s goalies from that far out you need a heavy shot and accuracy.
- That being said, I liked how Yakupov found the soft spot in the high slot last night, and buried the game winner. It was a great pass from Gagner, but one of the most important parts of being a good goal scorer is finding the open spots and Yakupov found it at the most important time of the game. He has a very good shot and he should use it more, but let’s stop comparing him to Ovechkin. It is unfair to both of them.
- Gagner’s assist is why you can’t trade him for spare parts. He has very good offensive abilities. I know he doesn’t show them all the time — consistency is what separates 50-point players from 80-point guys — but he has great skill. If MacTavish trades him, he needs to get a decent return.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are in the midst of their best stretch of the season, and they’ll head into the break on a high after a 3-2 win over the Devils.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will continue on their successful get-out-shot-but-win streak, but tonight they allow fewer shots than usual getting out shot 29-26.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr scores a pair of goals giving him 19 on the season, but 700 in his career. He heads to the Olympics having scored 50 points. Unreal.