Edmonton - November 12, 2014 - On a night in which they were playing the final game of a five game road swing and in search of their first victory of the season against a Western Conference opponent, all the Edmonton Oilers needed was to have their starting goaltender hold up his end of the bargain in order for them to head home on a three game win streak and a ton of momentum on their side.
Unfortunately for them, Viktor Fasth was downright awful during a first period in which he allowed pair of brutal goals against that ultimately cost his team the opportunity of accomplishing any of that. There is no question the Oilers were the better team over the final forty minutes of play in Nashville but in the end it was the Predators who skated away with a 3-2 victory.
The fact Edmonton got off to the sort of start they did should have surprised absolutely no real one, read here, but it was a loss that was easily avoidable but as per usual, the play of their goalie cost them points in the standings. With twenty per cent of their schedule already in the books, the Oilers are still waiting for Fasth and Ben Scrivens to find their game and in my world…that is simply unacceptable.
Clearly the wait and see approach isn’t working but at this stage of the game, Craig MacTavish has no other choice than to sit and hope that things turn around. It was a situation that could have and frankly should have been addressed during the off-season but instead of dipping in his toe into the free agent market for a legitimate starting goaltender, the Oilers GM inexplicably went in the complete opposite direction.
While it is hard to fault him for being pro-active in bringing both Fasth and Scrivens on board during the latter part of the 2013-14 season, the fact MacT refused to seriously consider signing Jonas Hiller as a free agent is inexcusable. The moment it became evident that no one was going to have to cough up anywhere near the money and term many thought would be necessary to ink the former Anaheim Ducks No. 1 via free agency, was the very moment this organization should have pounced.
After hearing MacTavish go on about how Devan Dubnyk was not the answer, and rightfully so, how on earth he convinced himself into believing his current pair as some sort of upgrade is beyond me. To make matters worse, Hiller signed a two year deal with the Calgary Flames that will see him earn $4.5 million over each of the next two seasons. How about Jaroslav Halak? The New York Islanders picked him up for a fourth round pick from the Buffalo Sabres.
Whereas the Oilers are paying their tandem a combined salary of $5.2 million, (Fasth $2.9M and Scrivens $2.3M), and are receiving the sort of play that generally tends to come when you go on the cheap when it comes to your goaltending. Expecting anything other than what we have seen from either guy, with the sort of team they currently have in front of them, was nothing more than wishful thinking from those within the organization.
While there are those who have continually gone on about how Edmonton’s save percentage number will improve as the season moves along, most notably Oilers NOW host Bob Stauffer, the fact of the matter is the season will be in toilet long before any of that occurs and from that point on…those numbers mean absolutely nothing.
Goaltenders who can put together decent runs during garbage time but are unable to come anywhere close to duplicating those totals when it actually matters, are what we call backups and as of this moment…the Edmonton Oilers are using two of them to try and survive in the Western Conference.