The Oilers are 0-3 to start the season, just like they were in 2014-2015. Fast forward a year and wins are just as impossible to come by.
It’s the same old same old for this club, right?
This is not the same tired story. This is much more
frustrating than last year because these losses have utterly wasted stellar
These first three games have all been insanely frustrating
after watching last season’s Oilers struggle to find NHL goaltending. For anyone who hadn’t been brainwashed by the likes of Glenn Healy and
the Goalie Guild, the 2014-2015 Oilers were let down by the men between the
pipes. The Oilers rested all of their hopes and dreams on Scrivens and Fasth to
start the year, and they were crushed almost instantaneously.
Over the course of the season those two settled towards the
bottom of the NHL in save percentage. They were (not exaggerating) number 49
and 50 out of 50 in NHL save percentage by goaltenders with a minimum of 20 games.
When we say they were the worst, we are being deadly accurate. Literally
anybody else would have been better.
The Oil were undone by netminding all season long. When we
talked about the massive hill the team had to climb in respectability, we started
with the goal differential of -85. The team was outscored by 85 goals. Only Arizona and Buffalo could boast a more incompetent
differential, except their goalies were making stops on a semi-regular basis.
So it’s for that reason that I’m frustrated with the way things have unfolded this season. They are awful, wasteful losses.
Compare, if you will, the first three games from just one
Game 1: Ben Scrivens opened the season against the Calgary
Flames. Edmonton dominated the shot clock but the Professor gave up 5 goals on
26 shots. It was a one game save percentage of .808 that just didn’t give the
team a chance to win.
Game 2: Viktor Fasth immediately got his chance versus
Vancouver and gave up four goals on 43 shots. It was a one game save
percentage of .907 that was good enough to get Edmonton to the shootout. It
was as good as either stopper got in the first three games.
Game 3: Fasth started the game in LA but was chased before the
first period ended. He gave up three goals on just 11 shots. Scrivens came on
in relief and promptly gave up another three goals on only 15 shots.
In total the Oiler goaltenders gave up 15 goals on just 95
shots for a combined .842 save percentage that would get only marginally better
over the course of the entire season. You are supposed to lose when your
goalies are that bad and still the team managed to pick up one point.
MEMORIES TO REPRESS LATER
Edmonton opened up this year with stellar goaltending.
Chiarelli overhauled the goaltending this offseason and his choices thus far have not
disappointed. They’ve kept the Oilers in every game.
Game 1: Talbot opened the season on the road in St Louis and
allowed two goals on 30 shots. His solid play resulted in a single game save
percentage of .933 that kept them in the game. It was a wasted performance as
the Oilers couldn’t score except for an own goal.
Game 2: Talbot started again in Nashville and again
allowed just two goals on 26 shots. It’s a .923 save percentage that got overshadowed
by the shutout of Rinne. Edmonton blew another solid performance.
Game 3: Nilsson got his first start against a Dallas Stars
club that finished second in goals for in the NHL last season. The team
allowed him to get peppered with 51 shots but he gave up just three goals against. It was
a .941 save percentage that translated into zero points in the standings.
In total the Oiler goaltenders have given up just seven goals on 107
shots for a combined .935 save percentage. That’s three solid outings by
Edmonton’s A & B stoppers that were converted into absolutely nothing.
That’s wholly unacceptable for a club whose biggest
complaint the year before was that they couldn’t count on any saves. It’s just
three games into the year, but how many more quality starts can the Oilers
afford to waste in October?
If you’re looking for something to be frustrated with a week
into the season, let it be that Edmonton is getting the dependable goaltending
they pined for last year and they’ve frittered it away. Let it be that the
goaltending duo has cut the number of goals allowed in half compared to this
time a year ago and still they can’t find a way to win.