LIAR, LIAR. PANTS ON FIRE

Liar

“Honey, do these jeans make me look fat?” Any married man who’s been lobbed that grenade by his better half understands there are times when honesty takes a backseat to diplomacy — otherwise known as the white lie, the fib – lest one risk frostbite between the marital sheets for weeks on end.

Likewise, the ugly truth was not an option for coach Dallas Eakins after the Edmonton Oilers lost 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators in overtime Thursday. Ryan Rishaug of TSN asked Eakins if he had any concerns about his goaltending after another sub-par performance by one of his stoppers, this time by Ben Scrivens, who couldn’t get a handle on a Mike Hoffman shot that had no business finding the back of the net.

“I’m not concerned,” Eakins said, choosing not to toss Scrivens or Viktor Fasth under the proverbial bus at a time when telling it like it obviously is would’ve shown up his puck-fumbling tandem when no better options exist. “Has our goaltending been up to speed? No, but neither has our team game.”

Given what our eyeballs and the statistics tell us about the state of the goal crease 17 games into the season, Eakins is either profoundly dim, which he isn’t, or is covering ass – “Of course not, dear. You look terrific” – when he says he isn’t concerned about his goaltending.

It has been, by any measure, butt-ugly.

YES, YOU LOOK FAT

Truth

I was one of those people who thought starting the season with Scrivens and Fasth provided enough of an upgrade over the 2013-14 duo of Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera that the Oilers should be OK in goal. Not set by any means, because neither came in as a proven No. 1 goaltender, but OK. So far, not even close.

Scrivens is 4-6-1 with a 3.01 goals-against average and a save percentage of .897 in 13 appearances. Fasth is 2-3-1 with a 3.63 GAA and a .885 saves percentage. The team GAA is 3.33, which ranks 27th in the league. The team save percentage is .888, 28th in the league. The Oilers have allowed 58 goals. Only Colorado and Buffalo have allowed more.

Those don’t fall entirely on Scrivens and Fasth of course, because there’s been no shortage of defensive breakdowns, bad coverage and turnovers. The truth is, though, much of it does. Scrivens should have been able to squeeze Hoffman’s shot in overtime. How many times have Scrivens and Fasth been guilty of giving up a bad goal or, in the case of Scrivens, mishandling a puck that led directly to a goal?

Teams with a save percentage under .910 need a lot of other things to go right to wins games. Teams with a save percentage under .900 are almost always bottom feeders. Scrivens has been under .900 in six of the 13 games he’s played in. Fasth has been under .900 in three of six appearances.

Again, Scrivens and Fasth aren’t the only problem, but in a season in which the Oilers have tightened up their shots-for and shots-against numbers (SF:508 SA:511) compared to 2013-14, you can bet the farm Eakins and GM Craig MacTavish are damn sure concerned about their masked men.

WHAT TO DO?

NowWhat

TSN’s Darren Dreger, one of the most connected guys in the business, suggested yesterday that it likely won’t be long until MacTavish is working the phones looking for options in the crease in tandem with his search for another centre. That might mean, reading between the lines, he already is.

I don’t see free agents like Martin Brodeur or Tomas Vokoun as an option, not that either of them would come even if MacTavish begged on bended knee with a suitcase full of money. I can’t see re-visiting Ilya Bryzgalov, who was brought in last season when Dubnyk and LaBarbera swallowed their tongues out of the gate.

What I do see is an Oiler team that’ll be out of any semblance of contention before the quarter-pole of the season yet again if the goaltending doesn’t get markedly better one way or another by the end of this month. Not buried to the point they were a year ago after a 4-15-2 start, but out of it nonetheless.

If there’s a concern . . .  

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

      • Lofty

        Big difference is that schemko is a defence man with a +21 rating brings in playoff experience cap hit is low at 1 million and is from the Edmonton area. Lot real physical at 6-1 but has an offence perspective and a couple hundred nhl games of experience.

        • Lofty

          Sorry I didn’t realize Schlemko is a D. I am totally fixated on the Oil’s problems at C.

          The Oil have two LH Dmen sitting in the press box now, why would they want to add another?

          • Lofty

            Send the two ahl players back to get more experience and bring in more nhl experience also opens up more options for trading for a goal tender. Something has to change period

  • Derzie

    Bono & the 80’s Forever Gang. Coming to a stadium near you. The travelling Washington Generals of the NHL. Tier 1 and above always welcome. Intermission shows include ring polishing, the trot-out-Bucky happy hour, gelling tips with Dally and many more. Get you tickets today! Circus Clowns! Monster Trucks! Tattoos!

  • Serious Gord

    There are a few comments on firings that should happen in Oiler Management. It wlii not happen!
    The Oilers continue to play Hide and Seek. A club has started and been approved at the Univ of Alberta called the Hide and Seek Club.Students can hide in Univ buildings until found.It is quite a social club as well.At this time it is not known if this club was inspired by Oiler Management?
    Where are all the Consultants the Oilers have employed? Hiding where or Seeking what?
    At least some 200 U of A future grads can put this game on their resume.
    The Oilers may have to go to Snakes and Ladders.
    Their problem may be finding a few ladders?

  • Johnnydapunk

    How about changing goalie coaches. Chabot has not been good judging by what he has done here. First time nhl coach with the Oil, need someone with some pedigree and experience working here. Sounds familiar…

    • Serious Gord

      My suggestion is to chill on the Goalie front, as soon as the Oilers get back to the proper defensive focus Ben Scrivens and Fasth will be required to play the puck behind the net a LOT because teams will be dumping the pucks in a lot in response to our aggressive fore-checking.

      Under the right circumstances,coming soon, Bens competativness and willingness to play the puck will prove to be well recieved.

      The Stand-up defense the Oilers must use,is not only an Oilers “must”, there is no other way to stop and NHS inspired System,there hasnt been for 3-4 years now.

  • MorningOwl

    bunch of bandwagoner fairweather fans on here. this team is poised for years of domination with just a couple minor adjustments and you know MacT has them coming down the pipes. This team has so much great hockey history, no other team outside of the original six are as good as we were. if you cant stay positive then run your loser butts south and chear for that pile of you know what. if your getting off the wagon get out of the way and shut up you have no right critisizing this team. /endrant

  • Serious Gord

    Yes, goaltending has been a real disappointment, but we the fans play a big part in the psychy of this team. I truly believe this city has pushed their teams to be better and in the past champions.

    I live in Calgary now and really I am sorry and a little ashamed, but I was a season ticket holder (still am in name, but family members purchase the tickets) since 1978(last year of the WHA). I believe we have also made great runs to make the playoffs during other eras and had some memorable playoff series in part due to the fans in Edmonton. This city has raised the play in their teams with faith and belief in them, that has in turn helped to inspire some great achievements (and I am definitely not just talking about the Cup championship teams).

    Stay positive, because the Oilers are looking much better than they have in years and are making excellent progress this year. MacTavish couldn’t allow for a Ribeiro to hurt the room and we know that we were out bid for players the Oilers had interest in and some like Jokinen just didn’t want to be here. MacTavish has done really well, considering our assets won’t get us their true value. Who would trade a first round pick like Yakapov or Eberle, when there upside and potential is so great. Goaltending…we had the right plan when they tried to get Bishop (which Tambellini dropped the ball on) and Schneider.

    As for Kevin Lowe, Glen Sather saw him as a general manager 30 years ago or so and he has been part of Team Canada for so long, because, I assume, others (his peers) see his hockey IQ as being excellent or even superior. Kevin’s judgement has been at times questionable, like his infamous press conference statements and his remodelling of the Oilers dressing room with his hockey stick (while he was a player), but he has the passion required in a champion that’s for sure.

    Excellent leaders have high expectations of those they are leading and that’s partially the reason they get them to overachieve or achieve their potential. I think Kevin’s personal standards were reflected in his expectations of people like Souraya. He has been misunderstood (and made mistakes pushing an injured player to return earlier than they wanted to), but believe me people like Kevin, Gretzky, Messier, Jason Smith, etc. played with a lot more pain than people like Souraya will ever know. I like Sheldon Souraya, but Kevin Lowe is a champion and a leader of champions…it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    Edmonton, there is something special in your make-up and your soul that brings the best out of your teams. Stay behind these guys and help instill the confidence and attitude (a positive never say give up mindset) that you have helped to nurture and facilitate in your past champions and overachieving teams.

    I am loving the potential and work ethic that I am seeing in this group. Hall and RNH are leading and Yak is on his way there, God willing.

    • Serious Gord

      “…the Oilers are looking much better than they have in years and are making excellent progress this year…”

      There is zero evidence to support your statement.

      And Klowe and the other old boys have had more than enough time to prove they are up to the task and they have failed miserably – they are on the cusp of setting records for failure.

      And what Is it with some who think that season ticket ownership in prehistoric times somehow makes their comments have more gravitas? It’s called hubris and its a bad habit.