By the time the Friday morning sun bangs the gong and wakes the squabbling kids and barking dog, the applause, tributes, and plaudits for Oiler goaltender Ben Scrivens should be dying down and Edmonton will be off on a four game road trip, beginning in Boston on Friday.
Even with three consecutive wins, no-one, including Oiler coach Dallas Eakins, believes his team is mounting an assault on the playoff picture. Yet, on the bright side, they have opened up a six point bulge over Buffalo for 29th place overall.
This is progress considering Ben “Professor” Scrivens had a rough time getting settled in the NHL, despite putting up good numbers with the Marlies, then the Leafs, and L.A. Kings before arriving back in his hometown of Edmonton, AKA the ‘burb of Spruce Grove.
In four starts to date he has two wins, a 1.76 goals against average, and a save percentage of .955. Good enough to accord him the Number 1 spot over Ilya Bryzgalov, on a team managing to score three goals in this latest win, but also giving up 59 shots, including far too many valid San Jose scoring attempts to explain.
What sticks with me today is how the scoring in that 3-0 win saw goals by Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and defenceman Justin Schultz, plus centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with three assists. This is the way it was supposed to be, the way it was expected to unfold. Four young, blue chip prospects pulling together, and hopefully the long awaited precursor of things to come.
Watching that game, as it took on the mounting expectation of something special, Scriven’s shot-blocking went 20-22-17 leading to the final buzzer. Meaning it took a Herculean goaltending performance that simply isn’t realistic to maintain.
Also, were three glaring defensive gaffes that were hard to ignore by another young Oiler talent. I had written a bogus interview about him a few weeks ago, wondering why he isn’t in the AHL learning his trade. It’s a mystery far more perplexing than Justin Bieber’s tin-horn ability to step in stuff.
Also, sticking with hockey, according to the usually reliable sources Marty Brodeur may be leaving the New Jersey Devils.
Hold it right there Marty, it’s time for a fireside chat.
Let’s begin with “leaving for where?” Not that you couldn’t match favourably for a while with many of the young goalies presently holding down NHL jobs, but what’s the upside of moving to second-chair somewhere else? Helllloooo. That’s where you are now.
Besides, if Lou Lamoriello values his reputation as a smart guy, is he going to entertain a deal that has you ending your career anywhere but Newark?
To take that risk for a few months of “change,” or even another season of back-up is hardly worth it. Man, I can’t even think of a netminder who can say his entire NHL career was with one team, let alone 22 seasons.
So, think it over. Hard. You sir, are the ultimate New Jersey Devil. You’re the Alex Delvecchio of goalies. Twelve seasons you played in over 70 games, ten of them consecutive, including a 78, and three 77 game seasons. You’re backup often sat on the bench confidently wearing sneakers. Now you’re considering moving somewhere else to be second fiddle? C’mon.
Let’s face facts. You are 41. 42 on May 6, 2014, with nothing to prove to anyone in the game. You don’t need the money, your future is secure, you can write your own job description, you are into the Hockey Fall of Fame first year of eligibility. So before you open the door to the possible embarrassment of going out on the open market, to be haggled over like a used Volvo, please, reconsider.
There are several examples of players who have taken that late career detour, leaving the place of their glory years to finish however briefly in another uniform. They only serve to underline their regret.
When you hang ‘em up, Marty, hang ‘em in New Jersey.
Lastly, for my much anticipated annual Superbowl picks, the wallet says Seattle, but the heart says Denver. Previous predictions include the last two correct Soop-bowl wins, and therefore my record stands at a rising 3-17.
Therefore, I’m goin’ with my heart. Again.