The Oilers’ recent streak of bad goaltending tandems isn’t new to the organization. The Oilers have had bad goaltending tandems throughout their history. The biggest difference is that the team infront of the goalies were able to hide most of the issues.
Fuhr and Moog (1983/84)
At the time this tandem was considered one of the best in the league but the 80s was a different time. The Oilers would win games 6-5 and both of those goalies were relied upon to not allow that 6th or 7th goal. The kicker is that both these goalies had eerily similar numbers to the current netminders that the Oilers have today. Moog had a 3.77GAA and a 0.882SV% while Fuhr had a 3.91GAA and a 0.883SV%. Those are scary numbers by today’s standards but were pretty common place back in the 80s.
Ranford and Fuhr (1989/90)
This was the season that Ranford took the reigns from Fuhr after Fuhr had to check himself into rehab. Ranford helped lead the Oilers to their most recent Stanley Cup that season but his and Fuhr’s numbers were atrocious compared to today’s goalies. Ranford had a 3.19GAA and a 0.887SV% while Fuhr had a 3.89GAA and a 0.868SV%. Once again those numbers look eerily familiar.
Joseph and Ranford (1995/96)
Joseph came into the organization as compensation from the Blues when they signed free agent Shayne Corson. Joseph immediately became a fan favourite because of his game saving stops and his acrobatic work in the Oilers net. Ranford was on his way out and was traded to Boston on January 11, 1996. The funny thing is that in the beginning of the dead puck era neither of these goalies really lit it up. Joseph had a 3.44GAA and a 0.886SV% while Ranford had a 3.81GAA and a 0.875SV%. Once again this goalie tandem looked very much like what the Oilers have been icing this season. Cujo didn’t really come into his own until the following season when he became the defacto number 1 goalie.
Essensa and Shtalenkov (1998/99)
Fully entrenched in the dead puck era these two goalies had better numbers than their predecessors but it wasn’t until the Oilers traded for Tommy Salo that the bleeding stopped… a bit. Essensa had a 2.75GAA and a 0.901SV% while Shtalenkov had a 2.67GAA and a 0.896SV%. Their biggest advantage was a decent defensive core and a good supporting cast up front. Forwards included Ryan Smyth, Bill Guerin, Mike Grier, Doug Weight and Todd Marchant while their defense boasted Roman Hamrlik, Tom Poti, Jason Smith and Janne Niinimaa. When Salo arrived Shtalenkov was dead weight and was traded to Phoenix at the end of the season.
Conklin, Morrison and Markkanen (2005/06)
In 2005/06 the Oilers had a real team up front. They had one of the best defensemen in the league and a decent supporting cast. Their biggest issue was goaltending because they couldn’t decide on true number one goalie. The goaltending duties were split between Ty Conklin (2.80GAA - 0.880SV%), Mike Morrison (2.83GAA - 0.884SV%) and Jussi Markkanen (3.12GAA - 0.880SV%). The three goalies split 76 games (really 63 but the numbers are kind of strange due to GS vs GP) that season and had 33 wins between the three of them. Their numbers weren’t great and at the trade deadline (March 8, 2006) the Oilers traded for Dwayne Roloson who would help lead them to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Roloson and Garon (2007/08)
This was the closest the Oilers have gotten to the playoffs since 2005/06. Roloson (38) was "past his prime" posting a 3.05GAA and a 0.901SV%. The Oilers signed Mathieu Garon (30) as a free agent and he immediately showed promise posting a 2.66GAA and 0.913SV%. The Oilers would end the season 41-35-6 missing the playoffs by just 3 points. The next season Garon would regress and Roloson became the defacto number one once again.
Deslauriers, Dubnyk and Khabibulin (2009-10)
Welcome to rebuild 2.0. This season wasn’t so much a tandem as it was a forced situation for the Oilers but I’ll include it anyway since the games were split very closely between the 3 goalies. This was Khabibulin’s first season as an Edmonton Oiler. Shortly after the season started, Khabibulin suffered a back injury that would seal the fate for the organization for the next 4 years. The up and coming Jeff Deslauriers took the reigns that season and played in 48 games and posted a 3.26GAA and a 0.901SV%. Rookie Devan Dubnyk posted a 3.57GAA and a 0.889SV% in his 19 games played. For his effort in the early going Khabibulin posted a 3.03GAA and a 0.909SV%. This was the season that kicked off the worst hockey played by any team for 6 years straight.
Scrivens and Fasth (Current Season)
After looking good infront of a really good defense in LA the Oilers decided that a backup goalie from Spruce Grove (sound familiar?) was going to challenge for the number one spot as the Oilers goaltender. They also decided that they’d go after another backup goalie in Viktor Fasth and see if he could challenge Spruce Grove 2.0 for the number spot much like Andy Moog did to Spruce Grove 1.0. After decent showings last season both of these goalies have played much like those goalies from the 80s posting 3.16GAA - 0.893SV% (Ben Scrivens) and 3.29GAA - 0.891SV% (Fasth). The biggest issue is that neither of those goalies have had to keep the score 6-5, except against Dallas when the Oilers had a 5-2 lead going into the third period and Scrivens wasn’t even able to do that.
The Oilers goalies this season have allowed more goals against (114 in 35GP) than Markkanen allowed in 37GP in 2005-06 (105). In the 83/84 season Andy Moog only allowed 139 goals against in his 38GP. The biggest difference for Moog was that the Oilers scored 446 times that season which made up for the "poor" goaltending. Right now the Oilers are on pace for 169GF if you factor in empty net goals the Oilers are on pace for 283GA for the season or a difference of 114 goals. In their two worst seasons, 2009-10 & 2010-11, the Oilers goal differential was less than -80. A goal differential of -114 is the worst since Atlanta had -143 goal differential in 1999-2000.
No matter how you slice it the Oilers are a bad team. If you factor in that they are often down by at least a goal in the first period and are continually chasing the lead, it just compounds the issue. Until the Oilers give up on this pipe dream of a good goaltending tandem they are going to continue to suffer the same fate. If they are going to win they need a real number one goalie but shouldn’t do it at this point since the season is already done. Wait until after the draft move out some assets and bring in a guy that can do what the Oilers need him to do.
Up next I’ll be tackling the problems on defense and why the Oilers are doing it wrong and why it doesn’t need to be as bad as it is.