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Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In Depth on Cam Talbot

The Oilers inability to keep pucks out of their net was one of the biggest reasons for their collapse last season. There are plenty of people within the organization who need bounce-back seasons in 2018-19, and Cam Talbot is right at the top of that list.

His last two seasons in orange and blue have produced vastly different results. We all know it, we’ve all witnessed it. Talbot shoulders plenty of the blame but the group in front of him should shoulder just as much.

Side note: if you comment on this article with some BS about “Oh, the twins are causing him to lose sleep”, just stop. The twins were born in October 2016, which was the beginning of the best season of his career. Also, lot’s of athletes have kids. That is a TERRIBLE narrative, so everyone should just drop it.

Back to my point, I have a tough time figuring out how much blame to put on Talbot and how much blame to put on the group in front of him for last years disaster. Also, with three seasons as a starting goalie and three very different results, is it realistic to expect that Talbot can be an elite goalie in 2018-19? I decided to look at some numbers.

Here are his differing save percentages at even strength over the past two seasons:

(via Corsica)

Low Danger SV% Medium Danger SV% High Danger SV% Overall SV%
2016-17 0.979 0.946 0.803 0.927
2017-18 0.982 0.905 0.799 0.916

For those of you who are more visual learners, I found these great charts from the fine folks at IcyData:

First, here are his shots faced and goals against from 2016-17:

And here is the same visual for 2017-18

The area that was the most troubling to me was the area right behind the net. If you watched all 82 Oilers games, then you know that Talbot gave up a staggeringly high amount of goals from poor angles.

The fact it wasn’t a problem in his first two seasons with the team is encouraging to me. I would also imagine it was something that he worked very hard to correct over the offseason.

Those numbers all pertain to Talbot and his ability to stop pucks. I also looked into some numbers that show what kind of shots the Oilers surrendered.

The past two seasons when the Oilers were playing at even strength:

Goals Against Per 60 Corsi Against Per 60 Shots Against Per 60
2016-17 2.12 54.60 28.61
2017-18 2.65 58.22 31.71

As a team, their ability to control the possession got worse, and it resulted in them giving up more shots per game. Take these numbers and combine them with the above images that showed in 2017-18, they gave up more shots from high danger areas like in front of and beside the net. There’s no doubt that Talbot struggled in 2017-18, but the defense in front of him was not as strong as it was in 2016-17

Another area that was a major concern was the penalty kill. In the first half of the season both the team and Talbot were awful but in the second half, they were one of the best groups in the league.

PK% in first 41 games of 2017-18: 70.5% (31st).

PK% in final 41 games of 2017-18: 83.8% (3rd).

When you look at the season as a whole, these are the numbers I found interesting, and I compared them to 2016-17 when the Oilers finished 17th in the league with a PK% of 80.7%.

Total Minutes Shots Against/60 Goals Against Talbots Save%
2016-17 371 53.41 42 0.872
2017-18 400 49.94 57 0.845

They gave up fewer shots, played more minutes, and gave up 15 more goals over the course of the season. So who was at fault?

Here are the types of shots that Talbot faced while on the penalty kill:

Total Shots Faced Low Danger Shots Medium Danger Shots High Danger Shots
2016-17 259 22 128 109
2017-18 297 28 160 109

Here is how Talbot responded to those shots:

Low Danger Save % Medium Danger Save % High Danger Save %
2016-17 0.909 0.921 0.825
2017-18 0.908 0.893 0.743

So in 2017-18, the Oilers allowed 38 more shots in 29 more minutes when compared to 2016-17. They did do a better job of limiting high danger chances, but they gave up nine more high danger goals. That’s on Talbot to me.

I know the Oilers penalty kill was tough to watch, but you can’t ignore the fact that Talbot was a huge problem. The good news for Oilers fans is that we’ve seen him post really good numbers in previous seasons, so there is a reason to expect a bounce-back.

I know I threw out a lot of numbers in this piece, but I’ll conclude it with this: Cam Talbot needs the Oilers defense to be better, and if it is, then he’ll have a much stronger season in 2018-19. There’s no denying that Talbot had more than his fair share of poor games, but the team needs to be better at limiting ‘grade A’ chances. The Oilers penalty kill also needs Cam Talbot to be better, and I expect that he will be.

  • GK1980

    Pressure is on the guy. The goaltending could make or break this year…again. I wonder how the new equipment changes will effect him and the other starters this year.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Larsson is an absolute beast and I expect an all-world season from him. Last year was a hiccup, tragedy, and being saddled with a 60-70% Klef. Nurse will take another step and the dude is never hurt. These things alone will improve the defense over last year.

  • The Future Never Comes

    How many of those PK goals were back door tap ins or cross ice one timers that noone could get a stick on. The 14 goals on the first shot of the game were more a testament to being unprepared mentally.

    • Bills Bills

      Agreed, the PK was bleeding chances and not all high danger shots are the same. There seemed to be a lot of back door and cross crease tap ins that Talbot was pretty much helpless on.

  • Messier11

    I find Talbot’s two biggest weaknesses are 1) his weakness glove high and 2) inability to be self-critical.

    With respect to the former, it would be more useful in these articles to have a pictogram of a shooter tutor and show us the percentage of shots that beat him in different areas. I think that the majority for him are over his glove.

    What is more worrisome is that he is not self-critical enough to improve upon those mistakes. Throughout last season he never showed any response or adaptation to the increased number of shots that were directed to his right (blocker) or left sides (glove high). That is, I would suggest, an important trait in a true #1 goalie.

    We can only hope that the new guy is able to pick up the slack if the 2017-18 Talbot shows up and not the 2016-17 one.

  • ed from edmonton

    Going into a UFA year and with a high priced back (how good he is remains to be seen) this is a make or break year for Talbot. If he has a season like last he will play out the rest of his career as aback up (and get paid like it).

  • The Swarm

    It’s not how many you let in, it’s when you let them in (credit to Grant Fuhr I believe). The amount of first shot goals let in was ridiculous. It wasn’t just the first shot of the game, it was also the first shot of the PK. These are are killers for morale. It’s not just the defense. Many of these shots seemed to go through him. He needs to be better. Full stop.

    • fasteddy

      I know it’s been stated forever, but I’ve never really bought the whole “made the saves when it counted” line….it implies the tender didn’t try early in the game, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  • JimmyV1965

    I may be wrong, but I believe the Oilers had one of the best shot differentials in the league for the first 20 games or so. It didn’t go to hell until later in the season.

    • ed from edmonton

      Correct their shot and scoring chance differential was very good going into November. November was the “month” of the flu then December was their best run of the year and it looked like they were ready to make a run in 2018. The bad early start was largely due to bad goaltending.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    The Oilers will never win anything with Cam Talbot (or Ben Scrivens, Tommy Salo).
    If they keep playing him, Peter Chiarelli will disappear faster than a knee drop

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    “Everyone is smarter than the numbers who repeatedly, over and over again, prove people wrong.”

    Yes Steve, yes they are.

    Talbot: 2.50 gaa, .918 sv%
    Andersen: 2.54 gaa, .918 sv%
    Holtby: 2.41 gaa, .919 sv%
    Rask: 2.26 gaa, .922 sv%
    Bobrovsky: 2.44 gaa, .920 sv%

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Mikko Koskinen, PLAYOFF Statistics:
      SKA St Petersburg
      2014: 1.61 gaa, .936 sv%
      2015: 1.47 gaa, .949 sv%
      2016: 1.64 gaa, .938 sv%
      2017: 1.62 gaa, .935 sv%

  • Methisgood

    Talbot already is 31. He played 3 out of his last 10 years as a starter. He was terrible his 1st and latest year as an Oiler.
    He is so overrated.
    He will be a UFA at 32 years old.
    You can bet Chia will do something stupid $39million for 6yrs.
    Oilers are never going to win. ????
    ?Oilers

    • Redbird62

      Considering he was in University in 2010, that is only 8 years where he could be a starter in NHL. Granted he did not get to the NHL until 2014, but he was the starter for the Rangers farm team. Also, a little unfair to expect him to be a starter with the Rangers, given they had Henrik Lundqvist in front of him. And in the 57 games he played for the Rangers over the 2 seasons including a long stretch where Lundqvist was injured, Talbot’s stats were better than Henrik’s by quite a bit. Before they knew what they had in Talbot, they had already signed Lundqvist to a 7 X 8.5 million contract, so Talbot was never going to get the chance to be a starter there even if he outplayed Lundqvist. The Rangers traded him with a year left on his contract when they could get decent value for him. There are several top level NHL goalies considerably older than Talbot. Talbot was a late bloomer, but other than a weak 10-15 games at the start of 2015 and around 1/2 a season last season (he had a .916 save % after the all star game), Cam Talbot has performed at a level worthy of an NHL starter. I am cautiously optimistic that he can continue to be a good starter for the Oilers, if the Oilers play decent defensively in front of him.

  • Himynameistaylor

    He’s started 140 games over two seasons as well, so let’s give him a bit of slack. It’s a tough position to play and if you’re being asked to play 70+ games where you’re going to face 30+ shots in over half of them, fatigue does start to wear.

    I have 0 faith in Koskinen this year as well as I watched him pretty closely when he was the backup behind Rick DiPietro, Dwayne Roloson, Al Montoya, Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin.

    So we’ll see what happens. I think CT33 is a great goalie who can steal a game or several for his team but he needs to have a backup who can take 15 or so starts off his back.

    Also inb4 ridiculous LAKID comment about how Talbots awful.

  • Hemmercules

    In my opinion, Talbot is probably the single most important factor in this upcoming season. He doesn’t come to play and the team will be sunk again by November. The defence in front of him play a huge roll as well but Talbot needs to clean up his game from what we saw in the early going last year. Make that fist stop and let the team get some momentum. Being a contract year for him I bet he’s extra focused so I have a feeling he’s ready to go balls out.

  • Methisgood

    Talbot is so washed up.
    He is also an idiot. Look at him last year run his mouth about oilers making playoffs half way through the year, then he would fail miserably.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Talbot has had ZERO discussions for a contract extention with the Oilers??
      Peter Chiarelli brought in Mikko Koskinen on a 1 yr 2.5M deal, with the understanding he can compete for the starters job. He is 6’6″ and has won the KHL Championship in 2015 and 2017. Low risk, you bet.
      If he plays well and earns it (not gifted) he will be the Oilers starting goaltender.