Edmonton - October 9, 2014 - While there are those who felt Viktor Fasth had earned the right to start tonight’s season opener against the Calgary Flames, which I include myself among, it was frankly no real surprise to hear Dallas Eakins would be going with Ben Scrivens in Game No.1 of the Edmonton Oilers 2014-15 schedule.
After arriving in town from Los Angeles and delivering a performance for the ages against the San Jose Sharks on January 29th at Rexall Place, the Spruce Grove native not only became an instant fan favourite but also had the good fortune of already being held in fairly high regard by his new head coach. With that being the case, it was clear that Scrivens would have had to have faltered rather badly during the pre-season to lose his starting gig and though Fasth was the better of the two during the Oilers exhibition outings , the gap was not nearly wide enough.
Add to that, the fact the former Princeton grad looked rather ordinary against the Vancouver Canucks during Edmonton’s pre-season finale and the early “rotation” makes even more sense. Scrivens will have the advantage of starting in front the home crowd and against the far weaker opponent but on the flipside, Fasth will be given the opportunity to prove his worth in a far tougher spot on Hockey Night in Canada against what is a far better hockey team…contrary to what many have suggested.
While the Canucks are by no means world-beaters, they should be much improved from 2013-14 and will likely give the Oilers all they can handle in Game No. 2. There is no question the plan all along was to use both guys over the opening week or two of the season and with Games No. 3 and No. 4 coming on back-to-back nights and Scrivens’ former squad first on the docket…the math is fairly self-explanatory.
Eakins has taking to referring to his goaltending tandem as “equals” but in all honesty, the second year coach would love nothing more than to have one of his netminders take the keys to the car early in the year and claim the job as this team’s number one goalie. Now that doesn’t mean if one of them pulls slightly ahead of the other during the early stages that the fight to be “the guy” is a done deal but it certainly would put an end to this notion of running with some sort of two-headed monster in between the pipes as a good thing for the coming season.
Unless both Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens can show they are capable of consistently producing at the highest of levels, which seems unlikely, this experiment will fall well short of what many Oilers fans envision it being. Again, the job is there for taking and now it is up to one of these guys to step up to the plate and lay claim to it. For the organization’s sake, let’s hope that one of them proves capable of doing exactly that.