Monday Musings: Blaming Ben

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It seems Ben Scrivens is the new whipping boy amongst the crowd who needs to find someone to blame for the woes of the Oilers. This is not a new phenomenon. Over the past years and decades one or two individuals become the focal point of the anger and feel the brunt of the criticism.

In the eyes of some Scrivens is the player who can’t be relied on and needs a one-way ticket out of town, but I think that anger might, once again, be a tad misguided.

Let’s be clear. Scrivens had a brutal 2014/2015 seasons. He, like many of his teammates, struggled and he did not play to the level he had in previous years. 

Scrivens had never been a starter prior to coming to Edmonton, and maybe last year proved he simply isn’t a starter, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a competent backup.

In his first four NHL seasons Scrivens saw action in 72 games. He had a solid .917 sv% stopping 1931 of 2106 shots.

Last season, in 57 games, 53 starts, Scrivens struggled with a .890sv% stopping 1,372 of the 1,542 shots he faced. He played more minutes and games than he ever had before and he fought the puck.

I’m not debating he had a bad season, he wasn’t content with his campaign, but the level of blame that has been placed on his pads is a tad much in my eyes.

Outside of Benoit Pouliot, Matt Hendricks, Oscar Klefbom, Boyd Gordon and Jordan Eberle which Oilers would you say had a productive season? Eberle had a slow start, but finished with 63 points. Pouliot set a career high in goals despite missing 25 games, Hendricks and Gordon were reliable, while Klefbom got stronger as the season progressed.

Pretty much every other Oiler struggled, but Scrivens garnered significant negative attention. Maybe he is better suited as a back up. He has shown that when he plays that role he is reliable. Or maybe it was an off year for him.

I find goalie’s level of play can fluctuate wildly from year to year, unless they are a proven top-ten goalie, and Scrivens rebounding with a .915sv% wouldn’t surprise me.

His play wasn’t very good, but the team defence in front of him was equally inconsistent. A goalie needs to play well to inject confidence in his team, but it needs to work the other way as well. I can see a chicken and the egg debate. Which comes first the goalie playing well to gain confidence in teammates, or teammates playing well so goalie is confident he only has to play within himself?

Scrivens proved he was a capable backup before last season. He struggled as a starter, so maybe he is better suited to be a back up, or maybe he just wasn’t ready to handle the burden of being a starter.

I think Devan Dubnyk proved goalies can rebound after a sub par season. I don’t expect Scrivens to become a Vezina trophy finalist, but I also won’t count him out and say he is finished.

During the past seven seasons, I’ve seen individuals become the scapegoat for another horrific Oiler season of hockey. Pat Quinn, Sheldon Souray, Dustin Penner, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Shawn Horcoff, Devan Dubnyk and Dallas Eakins have all heard the catcalls from the organization, fans and media. Some were warranted, but often we never saw very little or no improvement despite those gentleman being shown the door.

Scrivens is capable of playing better and the onus will be on him to prove he can. I believe it is too early to write him off, and I definitely don’t think he should shoulder most of the blame for the Oilers 28th place finish last year.

Their 28th finish was a total team effort, or more accurately, a lack of effort.

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  • The Soup Fascist

    Went and saw McDavid for the first time live tonight as I’m sure many others did. I could not believe how effortless he made everything seem. Ive heard from several reports how every time McDavid touches the puck something great happens and it definitely did tonight.

    Obviously he is supposed to stand out in a game where he is clearly above everyone else on the ice but wow. It was still impressive to witness live.

    Glad this is only the beginning. Are you ready Oilers fans?

  • bradleypi

    C’mon guys Scrivens has never proven himself to be a decent back up never mind a starter. He was cut loose in favour of Reimer in TO and that’s saying alot. I’m sure Scrivens is a decent guy off the ice just like Ference but these off ice endeavours do not give them a pass for poor play. They are both fringe players and should not be on the starting line up come October!

  • JackB

    HOLD ON! HOLD ON! ALL YOU GUYS!

    Everyone is blaming our TERRIBLE DEFENSE as the reason Scrivens didnt play so well! (and there is a lot of truth to that)

    I think part of the reason our defense always seemed out of position was the COACHES fault! REMEMBER THE SWARM DEFENCE (Eakins GREAT new scheme) And after he tried to implement it, and stick with it, until the team learned it (and they never did) everyone one on the ice looked like they didn’t know what they were doing.

    Our defensive game did improve somewhat in the later part of last year (after Nelson took over)

    REMEBER WE HAD EAKINS HERE FOR ALMOST A YEAR AND A HALF, and only had Nelson for a little over half a year.

    Maybe a little blame should be laid at the feet of Eakins . . . AND MACTAVISH!! . . . (and maybe even LOWE!!)

    • SSB1963

      Funny that scrivens had outstanding stats while playing behind the LA defense. You expect him to make back to back to back saves while the defense stands around? Too many people like to blame the goalie for every thing. Does he need to come up with a couple of unbelievable saves per game? Would be nice and would help, but I refuse to put all the blame on him. And comparing him to other goalies in other organizations behind a different defense is unfair.

      • Petrolero

        I’m sorry but this is an idiotic comment. If it were unfair to compare him to goalies from other organizations behind different defence then why does the NHL award the vezina or any other award for that matter and why does lundquist make so much more money than scrivens?

        Seriously I don’t know what fantasy land ur mind lives in but come back to reality before you reply to me please.

  • ubermiguel

    No.

    As much as I want to like Scribes, the truth is he flat-out suck for us. A few moments of genius doesn’t make up for the wretched plays that we can’t even count. I remember him making a tape-to-tape pass to a canuck (alone at the face-off circle). It lead to an easy goal against–thus deflating a sensitive team. This play wasn’t a one-off situation. Scrivens has beyond questionable puck – handling skills. He made Cujo loom like Roy with the puck.

    I’m sorry. I bleed copper and blue–or now orange and blue?? In any case, we have a great team – guy in Scrivens, and I cheer for him because 9f his grounded attitude and team mentality. There’s a place in our locker room for that type of thing. I’d compare him more to “Rudy” the football player than I would to a starting goalie.

    Here’s to hoping the back-up spot is achievable for him. I’d love it to be, but question whether his talents would even let him succeed in this role.

    Good luck Mr. Scrivens. I’d gladly eat crow on this matter come April 2016, but something tells me he’s not the stopper we hoped he’d be.

    • JackB

      I have said this for years now and ill say it again because i don’t believe Scrivens is as bad as he was last year. How the coaching staff used the goalies in the past years breaded failure never playing the hot goalie and letting the schedule decide who plays is the best way to lose games and break goalies confidence which is a major factor in being a goaltender.

      The good news is Nelson was the only coach I’ve seen use the hot goalie in how many years and now we have a real NHL coach who know’s how to win so i assume he will do the same or better.

  • SSB1963

    I pay more attention to Chiarelli’s reaction and less so the fan base. I watched every game last season. Scrivens was chaotic and let in killer goals early and late in periods. Yes, some of that was on the defence. How many times did I hear the play by play guys say’he has to make the save’ or ‘he wants that back’.

    I saw the whole team sag as yet another comeback was squelched. I am in favour of giving Scrivens a chance to win a job at camp in September. Chiarelli has sent a clear message. Jobs must be won. I’m all for that process.

  • ubermiguel

    Pat Quinn, Sheldon Souray, Dustin Penner, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Shawn Horcoff, Devan Dubnyk and Dallas Eakins…Kevin Lowe, Tom Poti, Mike Comrie, Jason Arnott…etc. The fanbase hyperfixates on one person when things are going poorly.

  • ubermiguel

    Who is on Scrivens…the media? If there are fans on Scrivens, then they need to move on and cheer for another team. In my opinion, Scrivens had the best highlight of the last couple years. I am talking about where he tossed the jersey back into the stands. I guess it is “those fans” that may be on him…not the real hockey fans.

    All of the goal tenders will start to look better with better defense in front of them. A great goalie can only get you so far. Just look at Kipruoff’s last couple years in Calgary and I think they still had decent defense at the time.

  • ubermiguel

    Imagine that you are a backup goalie with solid numbers, traded to a team that has an AHL coach that had lax practices, attempted weird defensive systems like “swarm”, had a Powerplay system that allowed for many high quality chances against (which resulted in 14 goals against iirc), that had a system where high quality chances against you were guaranteed at least 3 times a period…on a team that seemingly had 3 defensemen over the age of 22, where young forwards were still learning how to play a 2 way game (and these guys made up almost half of your forward roster), had a goalie coach that had a sub par record, and where the team was knocked out of the playoffs a month into the season you joined them.

    Some of that is going to rub off on you. Your confidence will take a hit. You’re going to change your game to adjust to these extreme circumstances.

    Simply put, the Oilers are not the team to base goalie evaluations on. Choose a team that wasn’t a gong show from front office to roster.

    With much of that corrected this year, I look forward to see what Scrivens can do. I’m guessing he’ll be a decent backup goalie, like he was when he was traded here. The defense could use some improvement still, but it won’t be the circus act that it was the last couple of years.

  • CMG30

    Nothing wrong with Scrivs as our backup. He’s proven he can handle the job. Let’s move on from ripping him. It’s getting old. Must we always have a whipping boy in this town ? Look who played in front of him ! Yikes! Bernie Parent would have looked like a siv