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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