by Lisa McRitchie on 02/05/13 at 12:55 AM ET
It was the battle of the goaltenders Monday night in Edmonton. Kind of. On one end of the rink, Loberto Luongo and on the other Devan Dubnyk. One has allegedly asked for a trade, and was supposed to be passing the torch this season to the younger franchise goaltender. The other is taking the reigns as the starting goaltender while leaving the older tender on the bench. Neither goalie looks to be a lock with their team just yet, but the story of this game was all about the man between the pipes and it would be the Canucks to walk out with a 3-2 OT win.
It looked as though Cory Schneider was the future in Vancouver, but Luongo is still the Canuck’s starting tender. It isn’t that Vancouver has given up on Schneider, but they are playing their hot hand, and the goaltender that they have the most confidence in. This is a familiar storyline in Edmonton.
Nikolai Khabibulin was brought in to work with the Oilers’ young goaltenders to help prepare them for their careers in the NHL. We thought that perhaps Dubnyk should be seeing far more starts than he was. When Dubnyk would see ice time, he seemed inconsistent and at times shakey. Surely this was due to a lack of starts? Or worse, maybe he just can’t be an NHL starting goaltender!
The end of the story hasn’t been written with Dubnyk. He has his nights where there is a least a goal or two he would like to have back, but then he has nights like Monday where he stands his ground, turning away 37 of 40 shots faced through 65 (64:40) minutes of play.
And the same can be said of Luongo, there is no certainty that the Canucks feel as though they can make the trade and depend on Schneider.
So what is a team to do?
For the Oilers, if they are going to allow 30-40 shots a night on their goaltender, especially in a shortened and condenced season, I suppose they may see what they have in Dubnyk, but could he be better if the Oilers were able to prevent a few more scoring opportunities? I bet he would be.
The Oilers can’t possibly be thinking that signing Khabi to another year or two contract, but they have to be weighing the options of relying on Dubnyk. This has to be his year. This has to be the year that Dubnyk plays the best hockey of his life.
For Luongo, it’s likely more important how his relationship with the team stands. If feelings have been hurt and can’t be mended, the Canucks could be exactly where the Oilers are now with their goaltending, and uncertainty in net can be damaging.
While the Oilers have the fire power, and a blueline that is better suited for moving the puck forward than it was last year, the question in net will be a different maker. Especially while the team goes through their growing pains and players settle into their roles.
Dubnyk certainly stood his ground Monday night and kept his team in the game, but the Oilers have to make fewer turnovers, allow fewer shots and maybe get in a few more of their own.
Other Oilers notes include a long list of injuries. Adding to the injured reserve list are :
Shawn Horcoff – broken knuckle, out indefinitely injured in Monday’s game
Mark Fistric – back injurye, out day to day injured in Monday’s game
They joing Theo Peckham D (hip flexor out day to day), Ryan Jones LW (eye injury out week to week), Andy Sutton D (knee out indefinitely), Ben Eager LW (concussion out in definitely), and Eric Belanger C *(foot injury out indefinitely).
What this means is that the Oilers are down by 2 centremen and are running out of players to call up. The team may have to look to the UFA market to see what can be done.
The Oilers’ next game is Wednesday night against the Dallas Stars. They’ll need Dubnyk to pick up where he left off Monday night, but they’ll also need their remaining centremen to step up. We may even see wingers doing what they can. The Oilers’ farm team the Oklahoma City Barons is Friday night against the Grand Rapids Griffins, so there would be an opportunity to make a callup for Wednesday’s game without hurting the farm team too badly. At least for now.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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