While panic has set in for the city of Edmonton because of their team’s slow start after a summer of high expectations, the pressure mounts on the shoulders of #33 to return to the level of play he maintained for his league high 73 (!?) starts last season. It’s an extremely small sample size but he simply hasn’t been good enough to give the Oilers a chance to win every night he’s gotten the nod. His .903 Sv% to start the year has him 24th in the NHL in that category amongst goalies who’ve made 4+ appearances thus far. Not to mention he’s managed to be pulled from 2 of his 6 starts already this year, a feat that took him 22 games just a season ago.
I tried to piece together some reasoning for his stumbling out of the gate by reviewing some of the goals he’s allowed. Here’s what I found.
The first thing that popped out to me when rewatching some of these games was Talbot seems to be struggling with his post integration. This can stem from a few issues, but in my experience the first thing to go when your confidence does is your ability to “find your net”. A vicious cycle of course as without that ability, one’s confidence tends to erode quickly. On this specific goal an unfortunate bounce over the short side shoulder is what ultimately beats Talbot. However, the unfortunate bounce is a result of poor technique. His right leg is outside the post which serves no purpose and prohibits the Oilers goaltender from creating a proper post seal. Furthermore, it hinders his ability to push across the net on any cross-ice play and essentially forces Talbot to poke check so as to prevent Horvat coming to his backhand. Keeping that leg inside the post enables #33 to be more patient and gives him a better shot at stopping this seemingly “unlucky” goal.
You can tell Talbot’s cheating here, not driving his leg into the post and creating that post seal I discussed earlier. He seems to begin to track the puck across the ice, expecting a pass. A smart play by Horvat for sure but this one stinks.
This one ties into both themes I caught amongst Talbot’s 15 goals against so far this season. Post integration and an ugly habit of being down way too early. It’s off a quick turnover so I’ll give some leniency but this is an ugly goal. As soon as he realizes it’s turned over, Cam does a quick scan to assess threats/options for Pyatt. This is a great (and necessary) habit, however Talbot fails to pick up Hoffman out of the corner and is therefore left guessing and reaching for the puck to try to intercept the pass. Pyatt isn’t a threat to score from where he gets the puck, but Talbot drops to his knees anyway slowing him down if he were to attempt to get across the net in lieu of hoping to get in front of it with his stick.
As you can see, this was not Talbot’s night. Drops down early on both. A pass across on the first one is all it takes to get him completely out of position and the second one he, for some reason, just sits on his goal line in the butterfly while the puck’s on the stick of an opponent in the slot.
It’s a combination of technique, overall work ethic, and trust. Admittedly, I do not watch as many Oilers games as I should but with how often the 30 year old is reaching to get in the way of cross-seam passes instead of trusting his defencemen to do their job and focusing on his own, there doesn’t appear to be much trust left.
Stop trying to do too much in instances where you can’t, and do more in instances where you should. Simple enough right?
There’s no denying the roster isn’t where it needs to be to compete yet. In the meantime, a better performance in goal could help stop the bleeding until management is able to
trade Russell and Lucic find a deal that helps the Oilers return to form.