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Top Shelf: Scrivens turns heads with record-setting night

By Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Since owning the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft for three consecutive years from 2010-12 hasn't exactly put Edmonton on the fast track to success, maybe all the Oilers' rebuilding project needs is a little bit of luck.

The club hopes to have found that good fortune in the acquisition of goaltender Ben Scrivens. The 27-year-old Scrivens came to Edmonton from Los Angeles earlier this month for the cost of only a third-round draft pick, and in just his fourth start with the Oilers, he managed to grab the NHL spotlight with a record-setting performance.

Scrivens set a league mark in Wednesday's 3-0 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks by stopping 59 shots in the shutout victory. It was the most saves ever in a shutout -- topping the previous single-game high of 54 saves in a shutout, set by Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith on April 4, 2012.

Granted, it was only one game, but it was the type of performance that could get an unheralded guy like Scrivens on the right track. More importantly, it could lead the talented but inexperienced Oilers to finally put their faith in a goaltender. Considering that Scrivens is one of five goaltenders to man the crease in Edmonton this season, it's about time somebody stuck as a dependable backstop.

The Oilers are known as an offense-first team and with good reason. The club selected forwards Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, respectively, with their recent string of three straight No. 1 selections. Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and fellow forward Jordan Eberle, a first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2008, all appear to be offensive stars in the making, while Yakupov, who is only 20 years old, is still trying to find his groove as an NHLer.

While Justin Schultz, 23, is a blossoming talent on the blue line, but there isn't much else to like at the back end. Edmonton did finally opt to take a non-forward in last year's draft by selecting defenseman Darnell Nurse with the seventh pick, but the 18-year-old nephew of former NFL star Donovan McNabb is still playing in juniors and could be a few years away from making an impact at the NHL level.

Currently, Edmonton ranks 18th in the league with a respectable average of 2.59 goals per game. The defense, however, has been anything but respectable as the Oilers are allowing a league-worst 3.36 goals per game.

With little defensive depth, the Oilers have been waiting for a goaltender to step up and be the rising tide that lifts all boats. After Wednesday's amazing effort from Scrivens, it's tempting to think the newest Edmonton goalie could be the guy to elevate the rebuilding club to a higher level. Considering the club hasn't made the playoffs since going on a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, the next step is qualifying for the postseason, a humble goal to say the least.

The Oilers began the season with Devan Dubnyk as their No. 1 netminder, but he had an awful campaign in Edmonton and was traded to Nashville on Jan. 15, the same day Scrivens was acquired from the Kings.

It's also been fairly obvious that Ilya Bryzgalov isn't the answer to Edmonton's goaltending issues. While Bryz has managed to keep his foot out of his mouth during his tenure with the Oilers, the quirky netminder is just 4-8-3 with a 3.22 goals against average and .903 save percentage in his first NHL job since being bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers over the summer.

Jason LaBarbera and Richard Bachman also have seen action between the pipes for the Oilers in 2013-14, but neither of those guys seem to offer a long- term solution to Edmonton's net problems.

Enter Scrivens, an undrafted free agent who broke into the league with Toronto before being dealt to the Kings in the trade that landed the Maple Leafs another goaltender in Jonathan Bernier. Scrivens turned some heads earlier this season with his solid play while Jonathan Quick was hurt, but once the Kings' No. 1 goaltender came back earlier this month, he became expendable.

Unlike playing goal for the defensively stout Kings, a netminder in Edmonton should be ready to face a lot of rubber and that aspect of his new job didn't seem to bother Scrivens in his record-setting performance on Wednesday. He stopped 20 shots in the first period, another 22 in the second and finished off his terrific outing with a 17-save third.

Scrivens' teammates were left amazed at his effort against the Sharks, and that one game could go a long way toward making Edmonton's skaters believe they've finally found a savior in net.

"I don't think I've even seen anything like that on TV," Hall said. "That was amazing. It's not like they were 59 shots from the wall, it was 'grade A' chances. They were chances that we don't want to give up at all, but he was making saves and it was fun to watch."

Even Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was effusive in his praise for Scrivens and how the Oilers seemed to feed off his historic effort.

"They begin to think the goaltender's invincible and he was," McLellan said. "He was Superman tonight. He had the uniform on and anything that we shot at him, he stopped. As the night went on, they blocked more shots, they felt they were closer to the victory every time the minutes ticked off and you have to give them credit for sticking with their plan as well."

Through four games in an Oilers uniform, Scrivens is 2-2-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .955 save percentage. Sure, it's a small sample size, but he also was 7-5-4 with a 1.97 GAA, .931 save percentage and three shutouts this season with L.A., so maybe the Alberta native is ready to come into his own.

It's not crazy to think Scrivens is a diamond in the rough. Goalies typically take longer to develop than skaters, which is why so few teams use early round draft picks on netminders.

Other teams in recent years have found No. 1 goaltenders who nobody seemed to want at the time. Guys like Smith in Phoenix, Craig Anderson in Ottawa, Sergei Bobrovsky with Columbus or Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop.

It's too early to include Scrivens in that group based off one spectacular performance, but it is possible we could look back at Wednesday's effort as a turning point in not only his career, but also in Edmonton's long road back to respectability.

01/30 13:51:59 ET

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Full Scoreboard


2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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