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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  • Word to the Bird

    Justin Schultz seems to be a bigger whipping boy IMO, particularly around these parts. Either way, now that the Oilers have Cam Talbot, it should at least create some healthy competition between the pipes.

  • BlazingSaitls

    NEVER! He’ll never be my wipping boy for last years disaster. That is all on Lowe> MacT> Eakins. You stick Carey Price in that disaster movie and the Oilers get maybe 5 more wins. Stop with this blaming Ben crap!

    I am not giving a free pass to Ben. He was given an opportunity and didn’t meet expectations as a starter. I will also not BLAME Ben for last year. Dominic Hasek, in his prime, would have been lucky to get last years Oilers 5 more wins on his own.

  • Who dat

    Did we not have this exercise with a guy named Dubnyk? we are barely more educated than a roman mob… all we want are sacrifices for everything wrong….people are so eager to kill, god help poor Connor if he doesnt get 80 pts next year …Im sure people will be wanting him traded and drawn and quartered as well.

    • BlazingSaitls

      I agree there is seems to be an element of very unsophisticated fandom out there that because they don’t know enough about the game ( maybe they have never played it or only at the peewee level) think that because they watch it on TV they are expert enough to actually have a informed opinion . Maybe we should require all respondents to premept their comments to this site with what level of hockey they got to and how old they are so we can take their comments with the grain of salt that information would provide.

      • YFC Prez

        Did you really just use the term “unsophisticated Fandom”? When is Fandom ever sophisticated?

        Every commenter on here is most likely 14 to 80 and most are males ( there are girls here though, I know if seen them!!). Some have played to pee wee, some to Junior and some have never picked up a stick in their life.

        They are all Fanatics though. Gloriously unsophisticated fanatics of this game we all love.

        Every comment on here should be taken with a grain of salt. I have been sharing opinions for years here and have learned a lot. Everyone has the right to do the same.

        You really want to class ON citizens by experience in the game? Kinda silly. There’s a lovely trash button for the comments you don’t agree with.

      • chickenStew

        Do you honestly think that to understand the game of hockey, you have to have played it? What a simple minded belief! There are an incredible amount of informed hockey enthusiasts in this country who have never played any advanced level of the game.

        On the other hand, I know far too many “hockey players” who couldn’t form an expert opinion if their lives depended on it.

        Judging from your first sentence structure, you are no doubt one of them.

      • Thumby

        I’m 46 and played Junior B hockey.
        Scrivener was terrible … especially how how handled the puck. I think his mishandling of the puck cost us 5 games…

  • BlueHairedApe

    Horcoff, Gagner, Belanger, Petry, Yakupov, Dubnyk, Nikitin. These are all names you hammered here and on your radio show Gregor. You have lead the Haters over the past few years. Not to mention any player under 6’3″ and 225lbs

  • JackB

    Team White wins the Billy Moores Cup!

    Connor McDavid 4 goals. After the game the players all signed white Oilers caps, then threw them over the boards. McDavid skated over to the boards, picked out a little guy, pointed to him twice, then threw his cap over . . . some bigger girl (or woman?) grabbed it . . . Connor stayed there, pointed to the kid, then to the girl, then to the kid again . . . AND THEN the girl gave the little guy the cap!!

    What a classy guy !!

    MADE THAT LITTLE GUY’S NIGHT !!

    • The Soup Fascist

      Also Kudos to Billy Moores for being a class act. A lot of guys would have told the Oilers to get stuffed a couple of weeks after getting snipped.

      The new management group is a vast improvement but that was not handled well. No reason Moores could not have been asked to retire this summer.

      • Randaman

        Excuse me but how do you know how it was handled?

        Were you there? Mr. Moores is a class act. I for one would like to believe Chirelli handled it with class unlike his predaceasor.

        • The Soup Fascist

          You are excused.

          He was FIRED less than two weeks before the Billy Moores Cup. There was a better way to handle it. Full stop.

          Full credit to Chiarelli for not Termiskyping™ him but not a very elegant ending to a classy career.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Unofficially, McDavid actually got 5. Replay showed that one he was only credited with an assist, his teammate never touched the puck on its way into the net. It went in off a defender’s stick.

      • JackB

        He looked pretty dominant !

        And it seemed that both Nurse and McDavid (at times) looked like they knew they were much better, slowed up a little (rather than show up guys they had gotten to know and like during the camp). McDavid slowed up a couple of times when he could have turned it on, and tried to set up other players for goals (that I noticed) and he still scored four times (maybe five, but I think he credited another player with a tip-in)

        BOTH OF THEM LOKKED GOOD . . . AND SHOWED SOME CLASS.

        And in fact, when they were interviewing McDavid after the game, I didn’t quite catch the question, but Connor answered something like “it was a good camp, a good wind up game, and you don’t want to show up other p[layers”

        LIKE I SAID, he’s a guy with class, he’s humble . . . AND HE SURE MADE SOME LITTLE KID’S NIGHT ! (A kid who looked like about five yrs old)

        After the game was over, Nurse said something to McDavid, they each smiled large smiles, and Nurse gently hit McDavid in the chest with his glove. I think those two are becoming pretty good friends . . . (after playing hard against each other for two years in the OHL)

        Looked like a GOOD NIGHT all around !!

        I sure hope Nurse makes the team this year with McDavid!

  • BlazingSaitls

    I totally agree with you ;the problems last year where the result of a Team effort ….Players; Coaches and Management so any blame should be left exactly there “in the past” .Mr Katz has fixed the management and they in turn have fixed the coaching and the player mix. Now lets see if the players as a “Team” can learn to play a 200 foot game before we start singling anyone individual out.
    This is a new ” team” top to bottom in so lets wait and see how all the pieces work together and put the long knives away for 4 or 5 months .We are not Toronto here and unlike the Maple Leaf fans we don’t need to always be Lynching someone do we.

  • freelancer

    Ben never got a chance. I’m sorry but ‘Jultz is your top defenseman and after Petry at number 2, well there’s just you, buddy, now go out there and shine!’ isn’t really a fair chance against NHL scorers. Here’s hoping he gets one next season.

  • Who dat

    Let’s be honest. We procured another backup.

    This season (albeit better defense core) will start with us holding our breath and hoping Talbot is as good as he’s played in limited minutes.

  • Kevwan

    Talk for days on here “the D was horrible” then the response “but the goalies were terrible.”

    Gregor nails it: “Their 28th finish was a total team effort, or more accurately, a lack of effort.”

    • BobbyCanuck

      I think its the exact same problem as with Justin Schultz. The team was bad but you remember the glaring mistakes most. Every time Scrivens came out of his net I held my breath. He, like Dubs the year before let in brutal goals. When you turn easy saves into life sucking goals it brings the whole team down. With Schultz all I can remember about last year were the brutal give aways. Specifically the one where he cost Broissant his 50 save debut. That said, I have no problem bring Scrivens back. A great character guy who should have a bounce back year with less pressure. Same for Schultz. See how they do with Mclellen before making and rash decisions.

  • freelancer

    Well said. After last season I would not have been comfortable with Scrivens as the starter again this season. Management addressed that and Talbot will get the nod. However he deserves the chance to prove he is a capable goaltender. Hopefully with some of the pressure off him this season he can have a resurgence.

  • Himynameistaylor

    The day these misguided “fans” understand that collectively, it’s a team game, is the day I shave my head and become a Buddhist monk. You can’t blame much on Ben. He played his hardest and I genuinely believe with all these new breaths of fresh air, everyone comes back next season with a renewed sense of confidence. If you paid any attention to Scrivy’s body language last season, you can tell he was anxious and was playing too deep to cover the cross seam and the high slot passes, which, coming from a guy who’s played the position for 16 years, is a sign of mistrust and apprehension.

    You don’t need a terrific goalie to win games, you just need one to make the first save.

    /endrant