Stars’ Jake Oettinger Rebounds From First Real NHL Adversity

Jake Oettinger had a terrific start to his career with the Dallas Stars. After being pushed into action early in the 2020 playoffs and 2020-21 season, the veteran goalie depth above forced him to begin this season in the American Hockey League. As he has throughout his hockey career, he took it in stride, played well in Austin, and eventually earned his shot again with the big club. 

After ranking at the top of the league in save percentage and goals-against average, going 9-1-0 at home, and pushing Braden Holtby in a battle for the starting job, he ran into a bit of a bumpy road recently, the first of his career. 

Oettinger’s First Real Adversity

Oettinger went through some team adversity last season but for the most part, had not struggled in his own game until recently. In two straight games against the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, Oettinger allowed nine goals, averaged a .751 save percentage, and was pulled in both starts. For a 23-year-old goaltender that was hitting up to a .970% on a fairly consistent basis, this was a tough pill to swallow. 

“I think we are the better team, we showed that tonight,” Oettinger said following a tough loss to Montreal. “It’s my job to make those saves when our team gives up chances. To not be able to make those saves for the guys really hurts me. I just want to be able to help this team win and I have not been able to do that the last few games, so it’s really disappointing.” 

Jake Oettinger Dallas Stars-Stars Jake Oettinger Rebounds From First Real Adversity
Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Oettinger is one of the hardest-working players on the Stars roster. Coaches and teammates have always spoken highly of his work ethic, maturity, and overall calming presence, knowing that he is the goalie of the future. So although the young goaltender was struggling, they showed no panic and strongly believed that he would bounce back quickly. 

“These are growing pains,” Bowness said. “He is going to win a lot of games for this franchise down the road but there are growing pains that come with that to get them there. He has the character to battle through this, learn from it, and fight back.”

Oettinger Responds With Clean Performance 

As the Stars had expected, Oettinger responded well when he finally got back in the net. In a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, he stopped 28 of 29 shots and looked calm and in control the entire night. 

Related: Dallas Stars Jake Oettinger Is Calm, Cool, & Collected 

“It is great for us as a team and for me personally,” Oettinger said. “It feels like it’s been a year since I’ve played. You know, when you don’t play well and you have to sit a little bit, it’s hard, you obviously just want to get back in there. I think the guys played really hard for me. We played so well defensively and didn’t give anything up.” 

Now, the challenge for the kid is to get back to that consistency. Holtby continues to play well, especially on the road, so Oettinger will need to earn his chances as he has done each time in the past. He will have to continue to work hard, overcome adversity, and provide consistent goaltending for Dallas. For the Lakeville, Minnesota native, that may be his most comfortable spot in just another day at the office.

“We all love working with young players, Bowness said.” Especially when he has such a good work ethic and character like Jake. He wants to get better, he’s a great worker and a great teammate. You know they want to get better and you know down the road, they are going to be a lot better.” 

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