Hockey fans, if there's anything resembling sympathy to be found in that cold, unpliable puck you call a heart, you may want to send a little Ben Scrivens's way. Edmonton isn't always going to give up 100 shot attempts, and the newest Oiler isn't always going to post an NHL-record 59-save shutout, but it's a pretty decent microcosm for what he's gotten himself into.
Scrivens was acquired by the Oilers in the second, logical half of a bizarre pair of trades two weeks ago, and went from a perennial cup contender (and a city his wife loved) to the doormats of the West. But a chance to be the No. 1 guy always a blessing, and last night, with a sample size larger than any single game in decades, Scrivens made a statement.
"I had an awful, awful warm-up," said the 27-year-old Scrivens, who is nicknamed "the Professor" for his Ivy League roots and wears a mask emblazoned with Shakespeare quotes. The warm-up didn't translate. Facing the offensive-minded Sharks, Scrivens turned away everything he faced. Below is a particularly sharp sequence in the second; you can also watch all 59, if you've got the stamina.
Scrivens's 59 saves were a record for a shutout in the expansion era, breaking Mike Smith's mark of 54 set two years ago, and the most saves in any regular season game since Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 in an OT game in 1991. The barrage was constant—San Jose tallied 20 shots in the first, 22 in the second, and 17 in the third. Said Scrivens: "I owe the shot keeper a beer."
The Alberta native received numerous standing ovations from the second period on, and even heard some "Scriv-ens" chants from the crowd—he wasn't about to get that in Los Angeles.
"Every shutout you get is a team effort," Scrivens said, and that's even more true for a 59-save shutout, though not in a positive way. You have to be pretty bad to give up 59 SOG. These Oilers are poorly constructed and directionless, and the fan base is on the edge of mutiny. It's a lost season—another lost season—but now there's a well-liked goalie of the immediate future, and on any given night, there's a chance to see something special. Hockey keeps you coming back.