Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Goalie Tandem

As opening night draws closer, you are starting to hear more and more about the Edmonton Oilers goaltending situation.The majority feel Devan Dubnyk has earned the right to start the season as the clear cut number one between the pipes for the Oilers. While a small minority, which includes myself, think Nikolai Khabibulin has some gas left in the tank and will rebound from his dreadful 2010 - 2011 campaign.What should Tom Renney and his staff do? Who should be the starter and who should be the backup? In my mind, the decision is simple...
...they go with a full out rotation to start the season.

If both break camp playing well, what purpose does it serve to name a starter? The obvious answer to that question, is none. What I purpose, is the Oilers go to a game in - game out rotation, regardless of outcome if the goalies are playing well. Everyone has a few stinkers over an 82 game schedule but if both can maintain a high level of play, I see no reason not to run the rotation. If it was good enough for Fuhr and Moog, I don't see why Khabby and Dubnyk couldn't do it. It is very simple, in one night and out the next..until someone falters. Again, it is all dependent on the play of both goaltenders but if it works, I would see no reason to not run the rotation for at least the first 50 games, if not the entire season.

Devan Dubnyk had a good season last year but nothing he has accomplished in his brief NHL career tells me he can handle being a starter and play 60 games a season. I honestly do not understand why so many in the media and fans in general, want this to come to fruition...is it so people can keep reminding one another how dumb management was for signing Khabibulin to a long term deal? We all know it was a bad move but you can't change what is already done. Unless you are not paying attention, this team will once again be challenged in their own end and while Dubynk is 25 years old, he is still somewhat inexperienced. Throwing him into this house of horrors, on a nightly basis, would be the best way to stunt his development once again. He is a player that not too long ago, I had severe doubts about being able to handle the mental side of being an NHL netminder, see here. He has taken such huge strides in his overall game in the last calender year, that it seems preposterous to risk undoing all that good, just for the sake of doing it. Especially when you a have veteran goalie who is still under contract and while he is well past his prime, he is far from being past his expiration date as an NHL goalie.

The big mistake this organization made with Nikolai Khabibulin, from day one, was playing him far too much. I have little doubt that if Khabby was to see regular duty this season, while being given enough time to recoup physically and mentally, that the Oilers would have a very productive 38 year old Russian netminder on their hands. Having him and Dubnyk form a healthy competition for playing time would not be a bad thing. Be it the kid pushing the vet or the vet pushing the kid, the winner in all scenarios will be the Edmonton Oilers.

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