Edmonton - October 5, 2014 - On a night in which the Edmonton Oilers decided to keep Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron out of their starting lineup, Dallas Eakins’ crew still found a way to outplay what was essentially the Vancouver Canucks opening night roster in what was both sides exhibition finale.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, netminder Ben Scrivens delivered what was by far and away his worst performance of the pre-season and that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 loss to their Pacific Division rival.
While it may have been a nothing game, it was eerily similar to how we saw things play out during many an Oiler game over the opening couple of weeks of the 2013-14 campaign. Edmonton wasn’t great over the first thirty or so minutes of action but there was no reason whatsoever they should have been staring at a two goal deficit with 8:27 left on the clock in period two.
All they needed was for their goaltender to make the stops he was supposed to but instead Scrivens proceeded to give up two absolute stinkers and for good measure, looked out of sorts on Chris Higgins’ opener at the 1:19 mark of period one. It most certainly wasn’t the outing the Spruce Grove native was hoping for and because it, his head coach now has a decision to make when it comes to his starting netminder for Thursday’s season opener against the Calgary Flames.
While the theme in camp has revolved around the players who show the best during pre-season will be the ones who start the season, let’s not be silly here. As bad as this team was a year ago, there were only a handful of jobs up for grabs at this camp.
While almost everyone within the organization had said the battle in goal could go either way, the fact remains Scrivens had a leg up over Viktor Fasth coming into to camp. Edmonton liked what they saw from the twenty-eight year old during his twenty-one appearances since coming over from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third round pick and that pushed him slightly in front of the former Anaheim Ducks tender in the pecking order.
Coming into yesterday’s tilt with the Canucks, both guys had played well but Fasth had been the better of two. With that said, Scrivens was likely still going to be the one who received the starting assignment in Game No. 1 against the Flames but after last night, that may no longer be the case. Which means the thirty-two year old Swede could get his shot at showing he is ready to be “the guy” instead of waiting for his partner to slip up before being given a real chance at proving his worth.
Should be interesting to say what route Dallas Eakisn chooses to go down to start the year but either way, the Edmonton Oilers season will ultimately come down to whether or not one of Viktor Fasth or Ben Scrivens has what it takes to put this team on their back and carry them to what everyone is hoping will be a bounce back season for the team in Orange and Blue.
Let the battle begin.