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Hot Streak is on Backs of Goalies

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

The play of the Edmonton Oilers goalie duo has been outstanding as of late and it’s a big reason why the Oilers have won four of their last five games.

“We haven’t played well over the last few games, but we were able to bank points,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “That comes down to where you need your goaltenders to give you a chance and they’ve done that. Both those men have played very, very well over the last little bit and that’s encouraging.”

Ben Scrivens saved 34 of 35 shots against Nashville in his first home start as an Oiler. Then, Ilya Bryzgalov made 25 saves in a win over Vancouver, really keeping the team alive with his third period performance. That was followed by Ben Scrivens making 59 saves in a shutout win over San Jose. Then, the Oilers netminder stopped 37 pucks against Boston and Bryzgalov concluded this five-game stretch with his 42 saves in Buffalo on Monday.

“We’re definitely getting some unbelievable goaltending right now,” David Perron said. “It’s not something that will last forever in terms of making 40-45 saves a night. I definitely think we’re playing better defensively than we were earlier in the year. That might be of help a little bit but these guys back there are hungry, they want to prove themselves and it’s fun to watch them play right now.”

Despite the brilliant goaltending, the Oilers have cause for concern with the volume of shots being faced by the pair.

“I think we’re getting a lot of help from our goaltenders,” Luke Gazdic said. “I don’t think we’ve played very well the last couple of nights. We know that, Dallas knows that. We’ve been giving up way too many opportunities and turning the puck over a lot. Those are two things we definitely have to work on but, like I said, we’ve gotten a lot of help from Scrivy and Bryz and they’ve stood in there for us.”

Photo by Getty Images.

Another way to help out the goalies would be more offence, which is exactly what the team is hoping to create by moving Nail Yakupov to the top line with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which was the case on Wednesday at practice.

“We’re just trying to generate some more offence,” Eakins said. “The last few games, our chances have gone south a little bit and not in a drastic way, we’re just looking for some different looks. I think Yak has played better and to get him with Hallsy and Nuge, may benefit the individual very well. Especially with those three guys, they should be able to generate a lot of offence. Then it also helps the next line with (Jordan Eberle) being with Perron and Gagner, we’re looking for some looks there as well so we’ll see how it goes. Like always, you shake up lines and sometimes it looks good and sometimes it doesn’t.”

The Oilers have a tough task ahead of themselves tomorrow night in New York City agains the Rangers. If they are hoping to give their goaltenders some help in that game, it will take better attention to detail.

“The big part is to get our skaters to quit watching our goalies play so well and just tighten up the game,” Eakins said. “When you look at these rosters now and you look at the games and the teams that are winning, it’s the small little things. It’s the taking away of space, it’s putting pucks on net, driving the net, it’s those little details in the game that are winning games. We just need to tighten those up a bit to support our goalies.”

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