Don’t count out Scrivens

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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
working relationship.

“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
execution.

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
is similar.

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?

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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 gregor@tsn1260.ca. 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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:       

  • It worries me that the Oilers goalie coach made no mention of Scrivens needing to work on his puck handling skills when outside the crease. He makes horrible decisions on timing. Bobbles the puck on his stick too often. Has too much hesitation in deciding what he’s going to do with the puck.

    He’s horrendous in that area. To me, it’s his biggest weakness by a big margin. I don’t know how many times I was screaming at the television at Scrivens leaving his net last season. I wonder if any of the advanced stat guys have a handle on how many goals and scoring chances were given up due to Scrivens leaving the crease to poorly play the puck behind his net? I’d be curious to know the numbers.

  • bradleypi

    “I believe some have overreacted by saying scrivens can’t play anymore”. Lol welcome to oilersnation! Remember when jultz played 1st line minutes last year? And now oilersnation says he’s a 3rd pairing dman. Overreacting. And just on a previous blog people are saying Niki nikitin can’t play in thd nhl after watching him for a WHOLE half season. Overreacting. And don’t get me started on what’s being said about Ferknuckle. Again overreacting.
    Saying that, scrivens was awful last year. I don’t judge a players ability to play based on one year but it’s clear scrivs is better suited to be a backup in this league. I’m always the first to defend goalies as I did with dubnyk but scrivs dropped the ball last year. I don’t remember him stealing one game. If he plays half as good as he did in LA the oilers will be a better team. If he takes the starter job from talbot I’ll be absolutely floored.

    • NJ

      No offense but seems you are over reacting. Shultz played first line minutes and was way over his head. He is possibly a 3rd liner right now, with a ceiling as an offensive 3/4 d man.

      NN did nothing well last year in an injury riddled season so maybe he arrives in shape and restores hope but with the Oilers current d man depth chart (Reinhart and Nurse pushing), how long can he stick?

      Ference is old and declining. He completes and he is veteran not to mention his community contributions. He’s a 6/7 right now as well.

      Those are facts. Not over reactions.

      Out of the bunch Shultz will improve this year under a new solid coach and smarter minutes. I also expect Scrivens to improve.

  • R U Kidding Me!

    I’m counting out Scrivens.

    He was bad last year, and someone will say most of with had to do with defense. The defense state of mind was even weaker because they knew who and how was performing behind them.

    Scrivens is a good back-up at best, nothing more.

    I’ll be here all season wrong pointing out all the weak goals and game Scrivens partakes in. Not because it needs to be done, but because I’m looking forward to excuses Gregor will come up with for his buddy.

  • Jason Gregor

    I’m a Ben-liever.

    When I see goalies with a decent couple seasons under their belt allow ridiculously bad goals in a subsequent season, I see it as a confidence issue and not part of a trend. I could be wrong and this season may or may not demonstrate that.

    I also think it’s unfair to judge any goalie in the Eakins era (dark times, they were). Judging any goalie with the AHL defensive roster we had is also a tad unfair IMO.

    I also think the Oilers should aggressively pursue Bill Ranford as a goalie coach. I mean, why can’t we have an “old boys club” with “old boys” that have actually proven their worth? The Flames acquired the Kings’ fitness coach last year, and wow did it show. The Flames had fantastic 3rd periods in games even late into the season and the Kings never looked the same.

    Scrivens starting as a backup fighting for a #1 spot sounds fair, and it sounds like an opportunity for Scrivens.

    • Oilerz4life

      Would love to see Bill Ranford as the Oilers goalie coach. He has been a goalie factory in LA. Remember when Bernier was supposed to be the next big thing in the Kings net? Bill worked with a lesser known,later round selection,who wasn’t expected to be much,let alone become a starter ahead of Bernier. We all know who that goalie is,and what he’s been able to achieve under Ranford,meanwhile Bernier is the latest to be blamed for the collapse in Leaf land. Both Scrivens and Jones looked pretty good as well,following the teachings of Billy,in LA. That being said,he’s not a drinking buddy of Lowe or MacT, therefore his services are not required here any longer.
      While talking about Billy Ranford,I would like to take a minute to say,I believe he belongs in the hall of fame. He won a Cup in Edmonton,as a back up,and another as the man,including a conn smythe trophy to go with it. Also he beat out some pretty good goalies named Roy and Belfour to be Canada’s starting goalie,winning the tournament for the first time in decades. His post playing career also includes two Stanley Cups as the Kings goalie coach. That’s a pretty impressive resume,and though he didn’t post the most impressive career numbers,he played on some bad teams,and killed it every chance he got to win big. Bill Ranford deserves to be in the Hall.

  • Jason Gregor

    Maybe scrivons isn’t that good and you are just looking at another bone head Mac T move and hoping for a miracle.

    My thoughts …. he isn’t that good.

  • Oilerz4life

    Scrivins has been quoted as saying he understands that he needs to pick up his game, PC is even quoted as saying that Nilsson had an underwhelming world championships.

    Scrivens has been gifted a spot and the days of a Fuhr, Moog combo are long gone. The only hope besides Talbot on backup with depth is LB.

    Chiarelli has shown he is willing to make risky moves so Scrivens HAS to prove he can turn things around or his days in Edmonton are done.

  • Johnnydapunk

    I think we will see what kind of goalie coach Schwartz is. The Oil were like 20th in shots allowed per game so they allowed a bit more than average but not anything too insane so I think the defence was partly to blame, but what stood out in their 20th position was the goals allowed which was pretty high, like 80s high (3.37) so not to rag hard on Scrivens, but he had a shocker last year.

    This will be Schwartz’s first full season I believe and if he can get Scrivens, Talbot and maybe even Nilsson playing respectable, they don’t need to be lights out, but keep the goals against under 3, then I will gladly give him a lot of credit.

    It seems like goalies do alright when they leave the Oil, Dubnyk was not just the only one, though he seemed to really show what happens when goalie coaches seem to click with their goalies.

    I don’t want to put all the blame on goalie coaching, but I think a fair share should be there as the defence was not as terrible as they seemed to be visually (oh man that pains me to use the visually term)

  • Zarny

    I don’t think it’s wise to draw any definitive conclusions from last year’s dumpster fire.

    Exceptionally few athletes would perform anywhere near their best in the toxic atmosphere we saw at Rexall last year.

    So I expect Scrivens and many Oilers will be better this year simply because I doubt there will be idiots who throw hoodies on the ice after the 1st game of the season.