NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14: Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin #35 of the Edmonton Oilers misses a shot by Ruslan Fedotenko of the New York Rangers for a goal during the third period of a hockey game at Madison Square Garden on November 14 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
"(Khabibulin) told me he wants to play another four or five years - He's still feeling the compete and the challenge. Devan's poised to take games from him and I love the fact his plan is to get the net back,"
--Steve Tambellini on Nikolai Khabibulin during yesterday's press conference, as reported by Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal.
Those few faithful who believed the Oilers would address the goaltending in the offseason, especially through a trade for Tuukka Rask or Cory Schneider, must be terribly disappointed. Tambellini, the man who made the mistake of overpaying Khabibulin by at least 100% in the first place, still believes in his guy three years later and is willing to bring him back in a year where the rebuild is officially over. All of this despite Khabibulin posting a .912 even strength save percentage since arriving, well below the league average .920 over the same period.
More on the goaltending situation after the jump.
"I liked what I saw the last third of the season (from Dubnyk). I liked his poise - there were good signs, (but) I need to see that in the first half.
Flash back to Tyler Dellow's article on the Nick Schultz trade:
Boy, he says "poise" a lot. It is, however, entirely possible that he doesn’t know what "poise" means. He went on to say, with respect to Yzerman: "I have great respect for Steve. His poise of analysis and discussion, y’know he brings good perspective. He’s a good person to listen to." Maybe he thinks it’s a synonym for "quality"? I don’t know. Bizarre.
Devan Dubnyk had a tough start but came on to post the best even strength save percentage (.927) of any post-lockout Oilers goalie and it's "some signs", while Khabibulin played as well as he's possibly capable of playing (.913) and is asked to come back, and moreover, handed some number of games automatically.
"I think we can do a better job as a goaltending tandem. They had a great start, but they did drop off."
Actually, it was only Khabibulin who dropped off. And, he didn't really drop off, so much as revert to his true talent level. Khabibulin's start was a mirage - he rode a heater and the Oilers rode that heater to first place. But the rest of the season was nothing but regression to the true Khabibulin. Expecting anything more than .910 out of Khabibulin is foolhardy.
Get ready for another season of The
Bulin Wall Maginot Line.