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Tough Gig: Calvin Pickard Prevails

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
6 months ago
With all the talk about what the Edmonton Oilers need to do to fix their goaltending after Jack Campbell came off the rails again and was sent to the minors over a month ago, Calvin Pickard has gone about his business exactly as his job description demands.
Pickard, 31, called up from AHL Bakersfield on Nov. 7, has spent most of his time since then on the end of the bench watching Stuart Skinner work the crease while GM Ken Holland works the phones. In the meantime, many Oilers’ fans have been speculating about if or when Campbell might be back, who Holland might bring in and what it might cost to acquire somebody to play behind Skinner.
Such is hockey life these days for Pickard, who made his NHL debut back in 2014-15 with Colorado and today has 119 games in The Show on his resume – put in the work in practice and be ready if Skinner needs a break and the opportunity to make a start or get into a game in relief presents itself. 
That’s exactly what unfolded Sunday afternoon as Pickard got the call against the New Jersey Devils for just his third appearance of this season – his first since Nov. 22 — and responded with 26 saves on the way to a 4-1 decision as the Oilers extended their winning streak to seven games and evened their record at 12-12-1.

WHAT THEY SAY

Sep 28, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) makes a save against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
“You’re obviously looking for that opportunity,” Pickard said. “It hasn’t happened much in the last year-and-a-half. Like I said before, you can’t put too much pressure on yourself when there’s starts few and far between. I thought the last couple weeks since I played last, we’ve had some really good practice time.
“I feel good about my game right now. Moving forward, this game is just going to put that confidence in my mind and just go from there.”
This was Pickard’s first victory in Oilers’ silks and, given the circumstances, it couldn’t be more timely. Pickard’s point-blank save on Jack Hughes with 3:25 left in regulation time helped seal the deal and keep the winning streak alive with Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks in town Tuesday.
“I thought he was really, really good,” coach Kris Knoblauch said. “The first two periods, we did a pretty good job of limiting the opportunities. I thought we checked really well. We had some cracks in the third period, especially after we made it 3-0. That’s where he really shone and played very solid.
“Picks is a very popular guy in the room. Guys have a lot of respect for him, just the way his career’s gone. He’ll spend extra time on the ice taking extra shots even though sometimes those goalies would rather get off and have a little bit of rest, but they know their role. He’s a good guy. Everyone enjoys being around him . . . they’re happy for him.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

So, what, if anything, does what we saw from Pickard Sunday mean in the big picture?
Does it buy Campbell more time to get his game straightened out and be a factor or has that horse left the barn? At the very least, it has to provide Knoblauch the opportunity to spot Pickard in again while Holland chases down a deal, no? What say you?

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