There was a time when magical moments on the ice were a regular occurrence in Edmonton, the glory days of the 80s raining manna from heaven upon the fans of perhaps the most talented hockey team ever to grace frozen water.
Those heady days of championship wins, cup rings, scoring records, trophies and parades gave way to heartbreak and dark days.
Then came the Little Team That Could: little in talent, but big on passion, will to win and purpose, culminating in one glorious spring that reignited the passions of Oiler fans everywhere.
Once again, heartbreak and dark days, the Little Team dispersing and becoming those that couldn’t, dragged into descent by Satan’s sleigh ever further into Hockey Hell.
But every so often, every once in a wonderful while, the Hockey Gods smile upon the natives of Oil Country, offering hope of perhaps brighter days ahead.
Ales Hemsky’s goal following Patrik Stefan’s empty net fail.
Sam Gagner’s stunning shootout move.
Andrew Cogliano’s three straight overtime winners.
Mathieu Garon’s shootout streak.
Linus Omark’s spin-o-rama.
Jordan Eberle’s first goal.
Taylor Hall’s first hat-trick.
Sam Gagner’s Eight Point Night™.
Nail Yakupov’s goal-and-celly.
And now, perhaps topping the list, we can safely add a new moment. One that will live in infamy, not only in Oiler folklore but in NHL history books. Ben Scrivens, the newest member of the Edmonton Oilers, playing not just a perfect game, but THE perfect game.
Excuse the above dramatics, yet the display put on by “The Professor” is already being dubbed the single greatest performance by any goalie in one game in living memory. Never mind the fact he tied the Oiler record for most shots faced in one game. Never mind the fact that he faced the most shots without surrendering a goal by any goalie in the NHL at least since expansion in 1967. The most amazing fact, is that he did this despite only having 55 NHL games to his name, playing behind perhaps one of the most hilariously inept teams in NHL history.
And believe me, the Oilers’ defensive ineptitude was in full display on this glorious night. Surrendering 59 shots on goal, and 100 shot attempts, the Sharks dominated to the tune of a 72.5% Corsi For rating at 5v5, this number increasing to 77% when the game was close. They couldn’t clear pucks, they couldn’t block shooting lanes, they couldn’t break up plays with sticks. They could but watch as their netminder put in a mind-blowing performance of epic proportions.
Watch the replay. All of it. Not only is Scrivens making absolutely stunning saves, he’s doing it while staying square to the shooter, keeping complete track of the puck and never once looking like he was out of the play. That is a goalie’s perfect game, and should be used as training material for all young hopefuls for years to come.
Is this indicative of Scrivens’ true NHL talent? Unlikely, and he’s gone and set the bar incredibly high for himself. If nothing else though, he has given Edmonton fans something to cheer for during a time when equal parts anger and apathy are rampant.
Savor that game, my fellow Oiler fans.