Ben Scrivens struggled for much of last season. He set a career high in games played, 57, but he set career lows with an .890sv% and 3.16 GAA. His most consistent stretch occurred very early in the season when he posted a .900+sv% in five straight games between October 17th and 27th.
He struggled with consistency after those five games, and he only had two stretches of three games with a .900+sv% the rest of the season. His struggles led the Oilers to acquiring Cam Talbot at the draft and signing free agent Anders Nilsson, and now Scrivens enters training camp needing to re-establish himself.
I believe some have overreacted by suggesting Scrivens can’t play anymore. It was one bad season, and there is no doubt he needs to play better, but over the years we’ve seen many goalies rebound after a brutal campaign.
When I spoke with Scrivens at the end of the year he admitted he was disappointed in his play. He expected to play better and vowed he would in 2015/2016. The good news is it will be difficult for him to post similar numbers as last season. Over his first four NHL seasons he had a career .915sv% and that is what he should strive for this year.
I’d be surprised if he plays 57 games, but Talbot has never started more than 34 games, so at the very least Scrivens will need to be effective for 25 starts. Unless you have a goalie like Carey Price, Pekka Rinne or Braden Holtby you need two solid goalies to be competitive, and the Oilers need Scrivens to play well.
When Talbot was acquired Scrivens was the first Oiler who reached out to him. Luke Fox quoted Talbot in his article.
“He said, ‘Hey, I grew up in the area. I know a lot. If you come out
to visit, I can show you around.’ He was really inviting, really
congratulatory toward me, and it sounds like we’re going to have a great
“Very classy. I don’t know how many guys would do that—I’ve never
been traded before—but for him to reach out like that, it says a lot
about him as a person.”
Scrivens is a bright guy, he knows Talbot was acquired to compete for the starting job, yet he reached out and offered to help him get comfortable in Edmonton. It doesn’t mean Scrivens won’t battle hard for the starting job, but it shows me he wants to be a good teammate.
HOW CAN SCRIVENS IMPROVE?
For me, the most difficult position to analyze or critique are goalies. I’ve had more success projecting what type of player a forward or D-man will become rather than goalies. I noticed when Scrivens struggled last season he was usually too active in goal, but other than saying “don’t be so active,” I don’t have great insight on how he could improve.
So I asked OIlers goalie coach Dustin Schwartz what areas he encouraged Scrivens to work on this summer.
A lot of it is positional play.
His recognition of how much ice he actually needs, giving himself more ability
to get across the net on laterals, try to maintain a little more control in his
recoveries and then just a little more consistency in his tracking and his save
I think Ben made some good strides, in parts of the season,
and showed he is more than capable of doing the job and making the saves when
we needed them, but we just need a little more consistently. Some of it
comes back to positional consistency on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully over the
course of the summer he can make those adjustments.
Dubnyk was a good example of that last season. He obviously spoke highly of the tracking, but you saw his positional play change. He played
more in a rectangle instead of playing above the top of crease, and for that
reason he was in position a lot more effectively and efficiently and squared on
pucks sooner. He was using his size to get himself set on pucks and I think Ben
He needs to recognize those things and make those little
adjustments to help himself out positionally a little bit more.
It was interesting listening to Schwartz outline the differences in Dubnyk’s game. It would be extremely difficult for any goalie to match the turnaround Dubnyk had last season, but he proves goalies can rebound from a sub-par season.
Scrivens doesn’t need to have a .929sv% like Dubnyk did to have a successful season. He must be consistent and reliable, and if he does he will prove his doubters wrong.
I’m a sucker for comeback stories, and I’m not ready to write Scrivens off just yet.
Are you a Baller?
We are planning our first charity slow pitch tournament. It will be a fun weekend capped off with a unique final game experience for all the teams involved. We are looking for 24 teams. If your team is interested in playing email firstname.lastname@example.org. The tournament, if it goes ahead, will be played on the September 11th weekend.
We already have four spots reserved, so we are only taking 20 other teams. Thanks for your interest.
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