“I had three goals early in the game. It can’t get worse than that. You just have to battle your way through.” – Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth
— Rob Tychkowski (@Sun_Tychkowski) March 12, 2014
Viktor Fasth hadn’t played a game since November 18th against the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was still a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Since then, he’s been traded to the Edmonton Oilers, a team with a decidedly different talent level from the Ducks. Fasth is now recovered from a lower-body injury and made his first start for the Oilers in Minnesota, a place where the Edmonton has lost 20 of their 22 games. Not exactly the easiest of circumstances for a guy to make his debut with a new team.
Fasth Rebounded Well
Young players make mistakes, that’s how they learn the game. Unfortunately for the Oilers, they have a lot of young players who make a lot of mistakes. (They even inserted yet another rookie defenceman into their lineup, Oscar Klefbom, who actually played a decent game). The first period was extremely lackluster for the Oilers, they committed horrific turnovers, their powerplay was a mess, and the coverage on some a couple of the goals was disastrous. But credit to Fasth, who didn’t let the Minnesota’s quick start rattle him.
The Wild scored three goals in five minutes midway through the first period, and it’s safe to say Fasth was hung out to dry on a couple of them. But once he settled in, he looked more comfortable facing the barrage of shots thanks to the Oilers defensive breakdowns. Edmonton scored a goal towards the end of the first, giving them a bit of life. And giving Fasth the opportunity to keep his team in the game and give them a chance to win.
The Oilers Scored Much Needed Goals
Dramatic comebacks aren’t exactly the mantra of the Edmonton Oilers. That’s due in large part for their inability to generate offence at important times. And despite going 0-for-3 on the powerplay, they were still not of out of it, even with a scoreless second period. Whether it was the Wild letting their foot off the gas, or the Oiler stepping it up, the game just didn’t feel over.
Midway through the third period, David Perron scored his 24th of the season to pull the Oilers within one, and then Jordan Eberle capitalized on a bad rebound from Darcy Kuemper to tie the game. Fasth meanwhile, was holding the fort, stopping 28 shots. The Wild didn’t get a shot on net during the overtime period, and Taylor Hall came through with the shoot-out winner to seal the victory.
Have the Oilers Found their Answer in Net?
Ben Scrivens has performed very well for the Oilers, and he inked a new deal with them. But the real question is surrounding Fasth, and if he going to be the guy going forward for the Oilers. He has a contract going into next season, so the pressure isn’t there just yet to hammer out a new deal. But the goaltending for the Oilers has been such a carousel, especially this season, and having some stability in such an important position is crucial.
Obviously a lot could happen in the offseason, but if Scrivens/Fasth is the tandem going forward, they can do much worse, and they have done much worse. The potential is there, although some don’t have faith in anyone between pipes if the team defence doesn’t improve and it’s hard to argue that point. But if the goaltending situation is solidified, then management can focus their attention on the problems on the blueline. The Oilers have really looked hard for a goalie, especially this season. Hopefully Fasth can be the one.
If Viktor Fasth plays a game for the #Oilers, they will become the 18th team in NHL history to use 6+ goalies in the regular season.
— Sportsnet Ticker (@SportsnetTicker) March 4, 2014
Marcy, a former hockey player, is a hockey correspondent on CTV News and TSN radio. She began her career as a Sports Journalist in 2009 and has been part of The Hockey Writers since 2010, where she is currently a senior writer and editor.