Make no mistake of it, goaltending issues and the Oilers seem to be a recurring theme season after season. There are only so many top ten goaltenders however, and there are 30 teams in the NHL, so not every team will have one. Goaltenders can make or break a team, and can win or lose a game so I think that they deserve some discussion from time to time. Wouldn't you know it? I think this is as good a time as any to have a quick look and discussion.
Let's go back to the beginning of our current goalie situation, back to when Roloson signed with the Islanders and the Oilers made the lateral/forwards/backwards move and signed Stanley Cup winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Personally I saw this as a lateral move; I didn't see this as adding youth or a more reliable goaltender but I was interested in seeing if this meant the Oilers would be able to choose between Dubnyk and Deslauriers since they were signing Khabibulin for 4 years.
Then of course, there was Khabibulin's first game with the Oilers against the Calgary Flames. I bet a few of you out there at this point started to wonder, if you hadn't already. Most of us brushed this off as a horrible blunder and figured that there were many more games in the season, and many more opportunities for Khabibulin to make us fall in love with his goaltending.
For many people, that dreamy period of infatuation never happened. Partly I would say it was due to injuries, illness, poor playing, and lack of interest by most of the team but mainly due to Khabibulin's back injury. Yes, November 21, 2009 news broke that the Oilers goaltender had back issues and eventually word broke that he would be requiring surgery. Fast forward nearly one year, and Khabibulin is finally playing hockey for the Oilers again. Now is when we are given an opportunity to see if we have a starting goaltender or if there was a playing concern that prompted the Gerber signing. As many Oilers fans will say, Gerber was the best goaltender both statistically and visually for the Oilers during the pre-season, so why was he sent down so soon? The quick answer would be because Oilers coaching staff/management need to stand behind Khabibulin and they are concerned about losing either of the DDs.
Not to sidetrack too much, but I do wonder why Gerber left good money and a starting position in Europe to be a fourth goaltender for the Oilers, agreeing to a 2 way contract no less. Gerber had to have expected to be playing in the AHL this season, so why would he think this was a great idea?
Back to Khabi; it is what it is and he is our starting goaltender for now. What I would like to know from you, is do you have confidence in him as a starting goaltender? Yes, he has done well for the Oilers in the first two games including earning the first star of the night for the game against the Panthers on Sunday, but is that enough? I know that some people have always had confidence in Khabibulin as a goaltender and his back surgery and rehabilitation have never been a cause for concern. For many others, however, including myself, back injuries, issues and surgery are a huge concern for a starting goaltender. What I'm asking from you is to vote in the poll and leave your comments below on whether or not you have confidence in the Oilers starting net minder.