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Edmonton Oilers Jack Campbell: New Gear, New Year, Better Results

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Photo credit:© Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Jack Campbell has always been his harshest critic. Some might say he’s too hard on himself, but when Campbell struggled to find his game in his first season with the Oilers, he never used any excuses. He said he needed to be better, and he’s backed it up.
Campbell is 6-0 in his last six starts with a .920Sv% and 2.16 GAA. He’s been one of the main reasons the Oilers are 8-1-2 in 2023.
“He’s open-minded,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “When he didn’t have the start he wanted, he was open to coaching. He was also a great teammate when someone else was getting the bulk of the starts. His recent run is due to the fact he put a lot of work in. The seeds were planted long ago, and he is starting to see the results of that hard work.”
Campbell worked on some technical elements of his game, but he also changed his pads, chest protector and glove. Changing gear mid-season, especially that much of it, is very rare. I caught up with Campbell to ask about the changes.
Jason Gregor: Changing gear midseason is unusual. Why did you change?
Jack Campbell: It just kind of got brought up and I was open for anything to switch up my season, based on how it was going, and I made the switch. And so far, it’s been going pretty well with it.
Gregor: Kevin Woodley, he’s a goalie guy, I’m not a goalie guy, said the pads are different in how you can control rebounds. Is it that noticeable now that you’ve used them in a few games?
Campbell: Oh absolutely. I probably went from one of the softest pads there is to a very firm pad. Quite a bit different for me, but so far I really like it. The rebounds got a little further, and I always thought it was better to keep them shorter, but as I’ve gotten older you realize you want the puck in front of you and further away. So, it makes sense.
Gregor: The theory is that if you kick it out farther it gives you more time to react?
Campbell: Yeah you can get reset and even help break out the puck with the team in front of me. So, it’s all kind of new to me, but I like it so far.
Gregor: And what about a chest protector?
Campbell: I was wearing the one I had from the LA Kings… five plus years probably, the old grey one. It was pretty beat up and pretty small. Switching to a bigger one not only gives you more coverage, but safety, and you look bigger in the net too.
Gregor: Five years for a chest protector — doesn’t it get worn down from the shots and you feel them more? Is the new one noticeably more protective?
Campbell: Oh yeah, especially when as practice goes on you look down and you see all of the protective parts on the ice. Each day I just seemed to lose some new pieces to it and that just makes the shots hurt a little bit more. Nice to be in the new one.
Gregor: And the glove?
Campbell: As many saw it was just bending too much. The new one is good now with some extra padding. We have that fixed now.
Gregor: You’re in a good rhythm now and playing well. Stuart Skinner is playing well. I know goalies want to play all of the time and in tandem, that’s not possible. Is two games in a row better or is one game each better? Does it matter?
Campbell: Stu is playing great this season, I’m so happy for him. It’s really great for our team in the standings and my start wasn’t anywhere where I wanted it. We wouldn’t be where we’re at without Stu’s play. But for me, I’m focused on winning each time I’m in there and the last six we’ve done that. Just trying to keep that rolling and Stu is doing the same. It doesn’t really matter how many you play. You just need to be ready when it is your turn.
Gregor: Forwards mention when they are in a slump, but then score one goal, it can change their whole confidence. A goalie makes one save — it’s rarely going to change his confidence like that. Is it harder to regain confidence as a goalie because rarely can there be one stop where it suddenly changes and removes the gorilla from you back?
Campbell: I think going into games, making that first save gives you the swagger even when things are going well. But you’ve got to focus on the next shot. It’s such an unpredictable position with what happens in front of you and, I know it is a cliche, but you can’t get too high or too low. And when you get that swagger going, it’s nice and you want to keep that going for sure.
Gregor: What are you plans for the bye-week and All-Star break? Do you like get away or do you want to step on the ice as quick as you can? What’s your strategy over the next week after tomorrow?
Campbell: I’m not too sure. My fiancé and I will probably get away for a few days, but we have a dog at home. So probably hang out with him a lot and be ready to roll and be back on the ice as soon as I can.

CONTINUE STRONG PLAY…

Campbell is far from satisfied because of his recent improved play. He mentioned “so far” numerous times during our conversation. Six games won’t erase the first three months, but it is clear he has turned a corner and now he’s focused on continuing his solid play down the stretch. Campbell and Skinner have performed well since the calendar turned to 2023, but so has the team defence in front of them. Campbell has faced an average of 26.8 shots/game over his last six starts. The improved team defence, combined with his improved play, has the Oilers allowing the ninth fewest goals/game in 2023.
Improved play from their veteran goalie has given the Oilers a boost and if it continues after the All-Star break, Edmonton should have a great opportunity to finish first in the Pacific.

Parting Shots…

  • Jay Woodcroft has both goalies rotating through the “starter’s net” in practice today, but I’d be surprised if Campbell didn’t start tomorrow. He’s playing great, and it wouldn’t make sense to have him sit out more than two weeks between starts.
  • Evander Kane doesn’t need to return to San Jose again. He will play tomorrow and in Detroit after the All-Star break.
  • With Kane returning someone has to come out of the lineup. The four lines in practice today were:
Holloway-McDavid-Hyman
Kane-Draisaitl-Ryan
Kostin-RNH-Janmark
Foegele-McLeod-Puljujarvi
The top three will start together tomorrow, so if Woodcroft opts to go 11-7 again, it would seem one of Foegele or Puljujarvi could be out. Woodcroft could return to 12-6, which would likely see Vincent Desharnais come out. Woodcroft wouldn’t say which way he is leaning, but last week he did mention he’d like to run 11-7 for a while.

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