Who Am I?

Ben Nelms

Through the first two games of the season I have made numerous mistakes on what should otherwise be routine plays in the NHL. Often these mistakes have lead directly to a goal against. Who am I?

Devan Dubnyk? Nope.

While this short blurb does describe Dubnyk's play quite well. It cannot be denied this also describes the 2 game play of Taylor Hall quite well. The difference? Nobody is calling for Taylor Hall's head. Why the difference? Why are we crucifying Dubnyk and not Hall?

I'm not here to say that Hall needs to go. In fact, I'm attempting to show you that the masses are dramatically over reacting to Dubnyk's play. In both games thus far Dubnyk has allowed some lemons, some undeniably atrocious goals. The worst two in my mind being the 5th goal in last night's game and the 4th goal against Winnipeg. That said Dubnyk has been left hung out to dry on many of these as well, including the 5th goal against Winnipeg and the 3rd goal against Vancouver.

Among the players that failed to make anything easier for Dubnyk was Taylor Hall. Hall has had some awful turnovers in the first two games of the season and the two that immediately come to mind led directly to Winnipeg's 4th goal and Vancouver's 3rd. I don't know if this a result of him playing out of his usual position on the wing or not, but to me it seems has simply been attempting to force the play too much, someone with better knowledge of positional play will have to tell me what they think. The one argument I won't except however is that he's playing with Ryan Smyth, because he played half the game tonight with Nail Yakupov on the left wing and I didn't see any spectacular improvement.

Now, I'm not saying Hall did nothing right, many times he pushed the pace and finished his hits. I loved his hit on Dale Wiese and am baffled how he got a boarding penalty while Tom Sestito didn't for his similar hit on Justin Schultz early in the second period.

Similarly, Dubnyk DID have some bright spots in his game. Anton Belov took back-to-back penalties in the first and Dubnyk had to face a flurry of shots for 4 minutes and was solid. There were many other points where I thought Dubnyk was solid. All in all Dubnyk faced 31 shots in a little over a half a game as opposed to Jason LaBarbera facing 12 shots after relieving Dubnyk, so no you can't compare their play based on that game.

I read a number of comments stating that there are goalies in the league that would have saved the goals tipped by defensemen such as the first goal against Winnipeg or the 2nd goal against Vancouver, but the fact is those would have been fantastic reactionary saves that you generally only see from elite goalies, but Dubnyk is not an elite goalie at this point and to acquire one would cost $5M-$6M. Even Vancouver's first goal wasn't an amazing deke, but it was a designed five-hole opener and you have to remember Dubnyk is likely losing the most amount of pad size under the new league rules due to his height, and this will require an adjustment.

All this said, Dallas Eakins has preached accountability from the moment he was hired and it's time for it. I'm glad Dubnyk started tonight, I'm glad Hall was on the top line. But Monday I fully expect LaBarbera to start in goal. Likewise, I would like to see Hall remain at center because I think him playing at this position will be best for the team in the long run and make him better as a player. However, with the return of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, he needs to slide down the depth chart a bit and see a role at second line center.

The point of all this is this: Neither Hall nor Dubnyk have played well so far this season, but it has only been two games and to evaluate EITHER one of them on these games and ignore their past couple of seasons would be ridiculous. We know they are better players than what we've seen and their stats say their performance will improve, so take a few deep breaths and relax Oil Country it's along season and we cam only hope that this is a positive thing.

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