Training Camp Battles: Goaltending

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For all the attention focused on centre and defence and coaching, no position burned the Edmonton Oilers in 2014-15 like goaltending did. Both of the Oilers’ key goalie gambles faltered badly, and the best puck-stopping the team got came in those days when injuries meant that Richard Bachman and Laurent Brossoit were between the pipes.

A new general manager hasn’t meant a change in fundamental approach. Once again, Edmonton is rolling the dice on goalies that have never held down the No. 1 job, and hoping this time that things work out better. We’ll see if that happens, and it’s likely to be a dominant story one way or the other from the first day of training camp to the last minute of the final game of the season.

It Really Was the Goaltending

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Before getting into this year’s candidates, we should probably spend a little bit of time on what happened last season. The collapse of both Scrivens and Fasth, particularly in conjunction with the implosion of Devan Dubnyk the year before, has created an idea that the real issues in Edmonton had more to do with the skaters than they did with the goalies.

To a degree, that’s potentially true. There’s a lot we don’t know about goaltending, and Edmonton’s defence was so bad last year that I’m hard-pressed to believe that there wasn’t a shot quality component to the team’s troubles. But I simply can’t agree with the goalie apologists out there who want to lay this all on the team’s skaters.

War-on-Ice has a metric for – among other things – shot quality. It’s not perfect, but it does help remove some of the guesswork at hockey’s most mysterious position. Last season, 51 goalies appeared in at least 20 NHL games. Fasth ranked 50th of those 51 in terms of save percentage on low quality shots; the only player to come in behind him was Scrivens in 51st place. Just for good measure, Fasth also ranked 51st of those 51 goalies in terms of save percentage on medium-danger shots. Both were consistently bad on low-danger shots, including after Todd Nelson stepped into the head coaching job full-time in late December.

This sort of thing isn’t exactly unprecedented. A decade ago, Tommy Salo gave out for the Oilers after some years of strong play (and for those who want to blame that goal against Belarus, Salo went 10-7-1 with a 0.920 SV% after coming back from the 2002 Olympics). Edmonton decided that his largely untested backup, Ty Conklin, had looked good enough late in 2003-04 to inherit the starting job from him; they traded Salo at the deadline and Conklin took over. The next season, Edmonton hedged its bets by bringing back Jussi Markkanen, an older European goalie who had looked good overseas and over a short NHL career.

It would have been easy enough to hang the whole mess on defence. After all, three goalies with reasonable track records had all had major struggles within a short time of each other. Then Dwayne Roloson came to town and it became apparent that it was the goalies after all.

Scrivens posted a 0.916 save percentage over 21 games in 2013-14 behind the Oilers’ defence. Fasth posted a 0.914 save percentage over seven games at pretty much the same time. And while we’re at it, Ilya Bryzgalov posted a 0.908 save percentage over 20 games with that same team. The defence probably didn’t help much last year, but let’s not blame it for what were some very real problems in net.

The Oilers’ hope is that with four legitimate options for minutes it can find two candidates to fix those problems.

The Contenders

Cam Talbot

1. Cam Talbot. Talbot enters training camp pretty much unquestioned as the Oilers’ starting goalie. He was acquired at significant (if reasonable) cost in the offseason, and his 0.931 career save percentage over 57 NHL games makes him the best bet that Edmonton has. He’s still a gamble, though, and might become vulnerable if he has a slow start to the year. He has a great opportunity here, but he needs to deliver quality starts right out of the gate.

There really isn’t much else to say about the guy who might be the single most critical figure in determining whether 2015-16 is a success for the Oilers or not. He’s a good bet; he’ll either work out or he won’t, and there’s nothing much to be done now but wait and see what happens.

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2. Ben Scrivens. I wonder how much the end of 2014-15 weighs on the minds of Edmonton’s managers. Laurent Brossoit had his 49-save game against San Jose, Richard Bachman won three straight while allowing a total of three goals, and Scrivens got lit up for 20 goals in four April losses. It was the worst moment in the worst season of his career.

But a rebound from his 0.890 SV% performance really isn’t out of the question. Nikolai Khabibulin came back from a 0.890 SV% season with the Oilers in 2010-11 and was pretty good for each of the next two years. Devan Dubnyk got Hart Trophy votes the year after his 0.891 SV% performance in 2013-14. We can add Brian Elliott, Steve Mason, Craig Anderson, Sergei Bobrovsky, Ilya Bryzgalov to the list of goalies who had single seasons like the one Scrivens just had; four of those five guys are still starters and the other played No. 1 minutes after his lousy campaign.

The bulk of Scrivens’ hockey career says he’s at least a decent backup. Last season says he’s garbage. And right now it’s possible to project him anywhere from starting in Edmonton to backing up in Bakersfield by January.

Nilsson, Anders

3. Anders Nilsson. He’s 6’5”, he’s coming off a great season in Russia, and he’s only 25 years old. His career numbers in the NHL and AHL aren’t particularly good, but he wouldn’t be the first goalie to struggle in his first crack at a job in North America and subsequently do better the second time around. Just ask Karri Ramo.

Nilsson is a real threat to Scrivens in the No. 2 job, particularly since he is currently on a one-way NHL contract. At this point, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s basically an open contest in training camp, with the goalie who performs best over a couple of games walking away with the backup job.

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4. Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit had a great year. Not only was he brilliant in his lone NHL game, but he ran with the starting job in the AHL, playing 53 games and posting a 0.918 save percentage. If the Oilers run into the same situation they had last year, he could very well find himself in the majors for an extended run. He’s extremely unlikely to make the team out of camp, though, what with three one-way NHL contracts ahead of him. That being said, he may end up starting the lion’s share of games in the minors even if Scrivens or Nilsson joins him in California.

5. Eetu Laurikainen. Tyler Bunz played an NHL game last year, so anything is possible. Laurikainen comes to the Oilers after a 0.933 save percentage performance in Finland’s top league. He’s probably ticketed for lots of starts in the ECHL and spot duty in the AHL.

Year Over Year

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A year ago, the Oilers came out of training camp precisely the way they went into it. Scrivens and Fasth were 1A and 1B respectively on the depth chart, Bachman was ticketed for the starting role in the AHL with Brossoit as his understudy. Tyler Bunz and Frans Tuohimaa rounded out the cast, with Bunz remarkably finding his way into the NHL for a game.

This year, Talbot seems unassailable as the team’s No. 1 out of the gate, regardless of what happens in camp (though that may change as the year progresses). The real battle is for the No. 2 role; my guess is that Scrivens wins the job in camp but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Nilsson did either. The loser will split time in the AHL with Brossoit, provided he clears waivers. Laurikainen is likely to be an afterthought, but he looks much more like a real prospect than Bunz or Tuohimaa did, and may enter the conversation as the year progresses.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • CMG30

    If the Oil can get average NHL ‘tending I figure that’s worth 20 points in the standings alone. If the Oil did hit the jackpot with Talbot and we get spectacular puck stopping, now we’re talking playoffs!

    Of course, if the recent trends in net continue, we’re looking at another bottom 5 finish. McDavid or no. This team needs someone to step up and stop pucks!

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Your Rolie the goalie example gives me hope. What a difference one guy can make.

    Excited to Laurikainen this weekend. Also excited to see Nurse clear out the front of the net.

    • Been there

      In my opinion Rollie was an average goalie during the regular season, where he shone was in the playoffs, when and if the team got there. We have not had a legit #1 since we traded Salo

      • The Goalie 1976

        Yes Roli was only OK before the playoffs. But we weren’t getting ok goaltending from our other options.

        You are also forgetting that Roli was good to great during all of his 3 yr deal after 06. Expecially the first 2 years, he was great.

        • Been there

          We can respectfully agree to disagree, I still say he was average during the regular seasons, but I also admit he always upped his game during playoff runs.

        • When i read your post i had thought Roli was good through his contract as well……then i looked at the numbers more closely……

          here are Roloson’s rankings, amongst qualified goalies….
          06/07 – 23rd in GAA (2.75)/21st in Sv Pct. (.909)
          07/08 – 47th in GAA (3.05)/43rd in Sv Pct. (.901)
          08/09 – 29th in GAA (2.77)/19th in Sv Pct. (.915)

          I would say that is not good to great goaltending….rather quite avg/decent, aside from his .915 save pct. in 08/09

          • The Goalie 1976

            That’s a totally fair comment. By numbers Roli was average for sure.

            As a goalie myself, I tend to use the ‘eye test’ a little more in combination with the stats, to get a true sense of a goalie.

            From my memory, Roli was always keeping the Oilers in games, hardly ever losing one by himself. I think he matched up pretty well against the other top goalies in the league, in so far as I don’t recall us losing games because our goalie wasn’t as good, rather the offense that couldn’t match up.

            I kinda take goalie stats with a grain of salt sometimes, as they would probably show goalies like Osgood, Crawford, Niemi in the top, however I don’t consider those average goalies on an elite team to be difference makers.

            The Oilers asked Roli to stand on his head every night, go toe to toe with the best, not lose games by himself. On that criteria he was successful.

            Yeah, he was probably an average goalie, who by sheer determination and effort was able to elevate his game to keep up with better players. kinda the Ryan Smyth of the crease.

            I thank him for one of the best springs of my sports life. 06′ was quite a ride.

          • I always tended to use the eye test as well…until i needed glasses!! HA
            Absolutely Roli had to stand on his head every night. He was a loyal and dedicated soldier and worked his a$$ off. For that, I will always be a fan of what he brought to the Oil.

  • freelancer

    Last year Edmonton allowed 276 goals, last in the league. They need to drop that by at least 60 if they want to be competitive.

    On a side note they also only scored 193, good for 26th in the league. For a team that is supposed to be loaded with offensive weapons that is a weak number.

    It is Positive Friday however so I will end with this…
    MCDAVID AND TALBOT CAN GET US THERE!

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    At least you’ve acknowledged that everything Chia has done this summer is still the same approach as Mact. In fact when you look at it with the Reinhart trade being more Mact and Bob Green, and the Talbot trade being a deal Mact and Sather had in place earlier Chia really didn’t do a lot this summer. Hopefully Talbot lives up to his hype.

  • Been there

    Personally I see Scrivens at a major crossroad in his NHL career, a make or break point. Talbot will start at #1 for sure, but if Ben can’t secure the back up job I think he will drift off to an AHL goalie for the long term, only getting another shot if a team needs a experienced back up as insurance due to injury.
    I am very curious to see Anders Nillson, because any goalie at 6’5″ who is athletic can be an imposing threat to any team, covering a huge part of the net.

    Unfortunately our goalies never stole any games last year, but at the same time our team never rallied around the tenders, something lacking in team chemistry.if we are to improve they have to all come together, having each other’s back no matter what the circumstances, something that has been lacking on the Oilers for a few years now!
    If any opposing player or team takes liberties with the goalies, they had better pay the price, and not a little push or face wash. If a goalie knows the team has his back no matter what, he will stand on his head for the team!

  • james_dean

    Willis, at the beginning you mentioned it was the goalies, not the skaters. I think it’s fair to blame both, and to bring coaching into the mix too.

    I don’t know how it happened, but Dallas Eakins was able to ruin the save percentages of at least four different goalies when he had time to coach the system in front of them. Dubnyk was average+ for years and then after one training camp with Eakins his skills imploded. One season later Dubnyk had fully rebounded, and was playing even better in front of a better defense. Goaltending only improved when we imported someone from outside our mess. The next year it happened again. Eakins (or maybe it was a new thing Chabot was trying, who can tell) got a training camp with a new group of guys and Scrivens, LaBarbera, and Fasth all had major implosions.

    I blame everyone for it, but I can’t believe that Scrivens and Fasth had those insane trans-Bayesian collapses on their own failures alone. A goalie posting a .030 save percant reduction on a team that has a mostly similar roster is insane. But when it mirrors what happens to every goalie who spends a lot of time learning from a certain person… quite the coincidence. I think the more Eakins coached the more damage he did.

    • Been there

      Typically head coaches have very little to do with goalies other than choosing who will start which games. They take information from the goalie coaches and may use it, but normally they just go with their preferred choice or a gut feeling. As for Dubnyk, he publicly stated that the goalie coaches tried to get him to stay up more and return to his feet quicker but he hesitated to change his style. It wasn’t until in Arizona he actually listened to Sean Burke who stated the same things, and that is when his game came around!

      • mcjesus take the wheel

        No no no…Mact ruined his confidence…*sarcasm*

        The vast majority on here refuse to believe what you just posted. Even though Dubnyk himself said it. And Chabot was just hired by Minnesota. So Duby clearly liked working with him. Couple that with the fact that he also admitted his brand new baby and wife going through post partum were a distraction and he wasn’t as focused as he should have been and you get a goalie that struggled.

        • Been there

          Thanks. I am a loyal oiler fan, always have been, not a bandwagon jumper, but I am a true fan of the game first. Having been involved in the game for many years I always try and post without biased emotions, instead looking at a bigger picture. Regardless of the MacT bashers, he is a very smart hockey person, and yes he made a few mistakes as GM which is typical of any new GM with no experience in that position, but Chiarelli knows how valuable his insight is. I do not comment to get approval, I just try and present a logical view, and try to back it up with facts as much as possible, some will not like them, but that is their perogative.

          • Been there

            I am sure it can be, but the man is still more knowledgeable about the game then all the so called arm chair GM’s that bash him, having only ever watched on TV, or played it on video games!

    • freelancer

      Don’t get me wrong. I like bashing Eakins as much as the next guy, but it’s hard to blame him for goaltending. Scrivens letting in weak shots from the blueline. That’s on him. Not the goaltending coach. Not Eakins.

      Having said that, under Eakins I noticed way more scenarios in which an opposing player was left alone in front of our goalie, leading to a goal. Under Nelson those types of goals seemed to go down but as Willis mentioned, April was not kind to Ben either.

      • I’d say Eakins ineptitude at coaching at the NHL level left everyone frustrated. If the team is executing a game plan that they know will get them lit up, it’s probably difficult for anyone to have any belief at all. I’d be surprised if NHL players really quit trying, or deliberately make themselves look bad, and just as surprised if an NHL caliber goaltender loses his ability to stop a 50 ft wrist shot in the space of 3 months, after being able to do it for a decade. What wouldn’t surprise me, though, is a competent professional could lose his motivation and desire if he was going into a work environment everyday that seemed specifically designed to fail. The brain disengages, and the body follows, I suppose.

    • So if we accept your premise, here’s a question for you: why didn’t Dallas Eakins ruin Ben Scrivens when he coached him in the AHL? Scrivens played three years for Eakins down there and performed well, both at that level and when recalled to the majors. We might well ask the same question about James Reimer, too.

      • A-Mc

        Because Eakin’s didn’t run the NHL club, he ran an AHL one. Big Difference.

        My personal opinion is that Eakins injected a visible level of chaos and uncertainty with respect to the 5 skaters on the ice. He shook things up and caused a disruption that left guys not knowing where to go, what to do and with a lack of confidence in themselves. Eakins, at the NHL level was turbulent but at the AHL level, his guys had everything worked out.

        As was previously stated, the head coach doesn’t have much to do with the goalies because they are a different breed. But when the 5 skaters on the ice are puck chasing and causing goals against, that causes Goalies to start cheating and develop bad habits.

        Indirectly, Eakin’s had an effect on the goalies to some degree. Most of the blame, imo, is still on the skaters because they are professionals and should not allow themselves to come unglued like they did far too often.

        This article didnt sway my opinion that the #1 failure over the last few seasons has been defense. Goaltending is a #2 though.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    I don’t think you can overstate the challenge faced by playing in front of a goalie that you have no faith in. Even at the low, and I mean low, level of hockey I played it was a factor in every decision. Every time the opposition had the puck you were nervous. So now we have ourselves the perfect little vicious circle. The D is bad so the G gives up goals, the G gives up goals which makes the skaters nervous, which leads to mistakes which leads to more goals and around we go.

    As a result I think a change was vital. Even if Scrivens and Talbot perform at equal levels this year not having the stain of past failure(with Talbot in net for the majority of games) should provide a measure of increased confidence to the skaters. Hopefully then the circle can start spinning in the Oilers direction for once.

    • I agree….Playing behind a goalie you have no faith in is kind of like playing behind Drew Hutchison pitching on the road……it’s just awful and you wonder how long it will take for the wheels to fall off. Sometimes there is only so much the position players can do

      • Been there

        But the same could be said for the goalie, playing behind a team that does not help out in front of the net or does not have his back when other teams takes liberties with him.
        Not saying that was the case, just generically speaking, it goes both ways! And yes, I play goal

        • That’s true. But you do sound like a goalie. I would not expect any goalie to stop every Grade A chance due to inept defence.

          However, at the end of the day, the Oilers need a goalie that does not let in soft/low quality shots, as has clearly been the case in the past. That is what my reference was in regards to.

  • Been there

    Scrivey and Fasth combined for a SV% of 0.889 giving up 283 goals last season which was worst in the league (AZ was 2nd and well behind at 270). If we have AVERAGE goaltending at 0.91 SV% we give up 229 goals.

    We scored 198 goals. Boyd Gordon had 13 points over 68 or ~ 0.19/g = 15 points for a full season. If Connor M gets 70 this year then the team picks up 55 additional goals. This brings us to GF/GA of 253/229 and a difference of 24. Calgary made the playoffs with GF/GA at 241/216 a difference of 25 goals.

    Given that the CM line will take pressure off of the RNH line so their numbers should improve and CM’s line will also improve our puck possession i.e. less time in the defensive zone.

    We don’t need the Vezina trophy winner, just average goaltending!

  • justDOit

    My breakdown on goalie save percentage :

    Below .900 they are costing you more games than they are winning . At .905-.915 they are winning games they should , but also losing games they should ( like most goalies are ) . At .915 the goalies are winning more games than costing you games . At .920 the goalies are stealing a lot more games and costing little to none .

    Would be nice to have one (our major starter ) with over .915, and the other at least in .905-.915 range . Talbot looks caable of over .915 and even Scrivens other tha last year looks to e in that -905-.915 range mst of the time . Defence and forwards certainly effect the middle on down group . You just do not want your goalies costing you more games than they are winning for you .

  • The Goalie 1976

    I’m usually a goalie apologist. But the last 2 seasons it was the goalies fault, not the skaters. (Maybe a little bit of Eakins fault too LOL)

    I’m a goalie too, and the job is to make saves, no excuses. There is lots of goalies that play well in front of a defensive group that’s not great, and still give their teams a chance to win. The Oilers haven’t got that in 2 years, if not longer.

  • ubermiguel

    Scrivens was a .917 goalie coming into last season, I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t get back to that level. I’ll add to the chorus of voices: getting simply average goaltending will have a huge impact on the standings. Even if Talbot’s numbers drop a bit we’ll still be ok.

    • One thing to keep in mind: Scrivens faced almost as many shots last year as he faced in the entirety of his previous NHL career. I’m open to the possibility that last year was an aberration, particularly once AHL save percentage is taken to account, but the balance of probability suggests that Scrivens’ true talent lies somewhere between last year’s disaster and the starter-in-waiting calibre career he enjoyed before that.

      In other words: I have him pegged as a competent backup goalie, and I’m prepared to be wrong in either direction.

      • ubermiguel

        He might be one of those guys that just can’t handle 25+ games a season; not everyone can be Fuhr or Brodeur and play 75 games a year at a high level. I’m betting he’ll be a stellar backup; now we just need to hope Talbot’s the real deal.

  • For me, I am going with Talbot having a better year than Dubnyk, Scrivens and Fasth in the prior two years combined.

    I don’t know why the confidence is there already with Talbot but with a new coaching staff and better defensive system, I can see better goaltending more consistently.

    Yeah the defence stunk last year but I agree with many that there were far too many easy very bad goals. More bad goaltending occurred when ya add in the fact that Scrivens was puck handling horrific as well and should not handle the puck outside the crease.

    Nilsson to me is an unknown and he may beat out Scrivens for back-up which won’t make huge waves if he does. Talbot is going to be worth the trade deal made this summer.

    Both Nilsson and Scrivens have one year deals this year so changes next year are coming no matter what.

    That being said, I believe Scrivens will be better as a back-up this year to Talbot. I also believe and its definite that he will be gone no matter what he does this year upcoming… and Brossoit gets promoted next season if he does very well in Bakersfield.

    Anyways, Its Hockey Season and Go Oilers!!! Starting tonight at the Youngstars Tourney…

  • tileguy

    I don’t think this was mentioned enough regarding the collapses of Dubynk, Scrivens and Fasth so I would like to mention it a little more.
    Eakins, eakins, eakins, eakins, eakins, eakins, eakins eakins, eakins, eakins.

    Get my drift? The change in coaching will account for the return of old save percentages, an improved defence (not saying we have one yet) will make any of those guys NHL caliber.

    • Been there

      Trust me I am no Eakins fan, but the head coach has little to do with goaltenders, hell they usually admit to knowing very little about the position, hence goaltender coaches!

      • 99CupsofCoffey

        That’s why i’m blaming the goaltender coaches. Just look at Dubynk’s resurgence.

        The thing that all these goalies had in common were crappy goaltending coaching in Edmonton.

        • mcjesus take the wheel

          You mean the same guy Minnesota just hired to coach Duby there and develop their goalies in their system as well??

          You guys grasp for straws all the time.

        • Been there

          True, and I agree to a point, but as referenced by Dubnyk himself, he chose to ignore the goaltender coaches and only after bouncing around before ending up in Arizona did he finally listen and change. Jonathan Quick gave a lot of credit to his coach, one Mr. Bill Ranford for his success.

        • Been there

          I respectfully choose to think it was both, you are most definitely entitled your opinion, but I have played the position and coached, albeit not at that level

  • Been there

    What’s more important ? The quality of the shot or person taking the shot ? Ovechkin vs. Gazdic with same ten bell chance . High percentage shooter vs. low percentage shooter . Noticeably , Oilers seem to give an over abundance of ten bell shots to opponents high percentage shooters .

  • Tikkanese

    Fasth ranked 50th of those 51 in terms of save percentage on low quality shots; the only player to come in behind him was Scrivens in 51st place.

    So my eye test was correct after all. Fasth let in less stinkers than Scrivens did.

  • hagar

    Lots of mental strength and weakness in sports comes from the attitude of the team as a whole. The goalies are still a part of the same locker room environment that affects the play of the forwards.

    I think it’s fair to say the entire team sucked last year,and most player had many weak games, and some good ones.

    Goalie is by far the most Statistically affected position by random poor play. Mix in a few blow out games against, with a few average games, and the result is a horrible save percentage.

    Yes the goalies sucked last year, but so did pretty well the entire team… everyone else just doesn’t have such a readable statistic as a goalie does to make finger pointing so easy.

  • Strange Tamer

    You nailed it with this one JW. The goaltending was the single biggest reason the Oilers finished where they did the last two seasons (along with Eakins). The Oilers looked decent out of the gate in 2013-2014, but brutal goaltending from Dubnyk and Lababera torpedoed the season in the first 20 games.

    Then Scrivens lays a complete egg against Calgary to start off the 2014-2015 season in a game the Oil should have won easily, and the bad goaltending continued all season. I’m sick of the fans and media blaming a sub 0.900 save% on bad defense while letting the goalies off the hook. Buffalo was by far a worse team than the Oilers last year with an even worse and more inexperienced defense, yet their goalies produced far better save%.

    Scrivens and Fasth let in tons of goals last year and they weren’t always from dangerous chances. Scrivens caused 4 or 5 goals in the first month of the season with his puck handling skills alone.

    Hopefully Talbot is the savior, his numbers suggest he could be.

  • “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s basically an open contest in training camp, with the goalie who performs best over a couple of games walking away with the backup job.”

    Considering how streaky goalies can be and the short time frame, I’ve never understood how they can properly evaluate goalies in training camp.

  • Been there

    JW “But I simply can’t agree with the goalie apologists out there who want to lay this all on the team’s skaters.”

    You sound like the trolls making this statement. I don’t believe anyone thought the goalies played well. The only debatable point is who would be more to blame, the skaters or the goalies.

    Then as I’ve mentioned on other posts, team attitude is huge. I don’t believe they had a positive attitude, though it did improve after Todd stepped in.

    Attitude. Respect for Management. NHL Experienced coaches. More competition for ice time. The McDavid factor. Another year under their belts for the younger players.

    All this will equate to a vast improvement over last year and you will see the goaltending improve.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Talbot comes in as a proven back up with a 0.931 career save percentage.

    It seems to me this is similar to Scrivens when he joined the Oilers.

    I hope Talbot does well but I’ll remain skeptical till he backs it up on the ice.

    It was a good move signing Nilsson. It would be great if he surpised (in a good way).

  • JackB

    A lot of the posters are saying “you can’t blame Eakins for the goaltending” “he didn’t coach the tenders, he only picked who he would start.”

    TRUE . . . but you sure as hell can blame him for the coaching of the defense (and forwards)

    Him and his damn swarm defence !!!! “The players aren’t understanding it, but we’ll keep with it until they get it”. (That was a good idea Dallas !!)

    Besides not having a solid core of defence talent, what players we did have seemed to “run around” in the defensive zone, didn’t seem to know what they were doing.

    AND . . . if more than one player “swarms” the puck carrier, what do you have?? Someone left alone in front of the net . . . or alone for a backdoor tap-in.

    YEAH !!!! . . . . YOU CAN BLAME EAKINS FOR THE POOR GOALTENDING !!!!

    (or at least that’s my opinion)

    • mcjesus take the wheel

      From this post I can tell you have absolutely no clue what the swarm defense is about. You do realize it’s not a novel thing and other NHL teams use it and variations of it? No didn’t think so.

  • camdog

    Eakins was an absolute disaster as an Oiler coach. Never once did the players have his back, not once. This isn’t all on Eakins though, it was Mact’s error. Ralph Krueger was a very respected coach by the Oiler players and how that went down did not set well with anybody. People can pretend it wasn’t a factor but it always was.

    As to Talbot being appointed the number 1 job, well it’s not going to work that way. If Nilsson who was sick in his last year in the NHL with his allergic reaction to gluten comes in and clearly out plays Talbot he’ll get his ice time.

    The culture of players getting ice time based on entitlement, needs to stop this season!