Jack Campbell Delivers
Photo credit:Alan Poizner-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
There’s a hilarious old bit from Knob Hockey using Ilya Bryzgalov as an example to show some of the mental gymnastics goaltenders put themselves through as part of the job.
I found myself thinking of that clip as Jack Campbell settled into the crease for the Edmonton Oilers against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena last night with a goals-against average in the high-eights, a save percentage in the mid-sevens and the Oilers at 0-2-0 and needing a W. They got it, jumping a jet for Philadelphia with a 6-1 decision in the books.
To borrow from Bryzgalov, there could be no pissing pants this night. Given Campbell’s penchant for being his own worst critic — his problems between the pipes often start between the ears — I didn’t know what to expect after he got pulled in an 8-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in his first outing. Did you?
What we got was an almost air-tight 42-save performance from Campbell, who stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first period as the Oilers hit the first intermission up 4-0 and never looked back. Then, with the Oilers up 4-1 in the second period, Campbell made that ridiculous save on Gus Nyquist with an exclamation mark on what would be a terrific performance.
Sep 29, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Jack Campbell (36) sprays water in his face during the second period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The book on Campbell before he got to Edmontion is that one bad goal could lead to another, and that one bad game could turn into a second or a third. We saw that at times a year ago when Campbell got off to a tough start to the season. He talked about his new approach during a solid pre-season, but then got lit-up like a cheap cigar against the Canucks. This game was a tester.
“Understanding the difference between me last year and this year and over the course of my career, I guess it was learning that there are great players in the league,” Campbell told reporters post-game last night. “Obviously, I’ve always known that, but having the mindset I’m going to be perfect and everything’s going to go great every night is almost arrogant.
“That’s kind of the recipe for the league – having a short memory. It’s certainly something I’ve worked hard on this summer, not necessarily in a results-focused way, but just having the ability to process what happened and learn from it rather than dwell on it.”
Leon Draisaitl continued to pile up points against the Predators for fun with 2-2-4. Zach Hyman scored the 2-0 goal and added three assists for a four-point night. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a goal and had three points and Connor McDavid scored an outrageously good goal to make it 4-0. Campbell made all that matter with those 15 saves in the first 20 minutes.
“I think the timely saves were super important in the first, and then in the second when it was 4-1, they were pushing to make 4-2,” Hyman said. “There were a bunch of big saves to keep it there and let us work our way back.”
WHAT ABOUT PHILLY?
So, who gets the crease against the Flyers Thursday? My understanding is coach Jay Woodcroft had Stuart Skinner pencilled in for that game after giving Campbell the start in Nashville. If that’s the case, must Woodcroft stick with that plan or can he go back to Campbell on merit? I’d be tempted to go with Campbell again, but that doesn’t mean Woodcroft will see it the same way. You?
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