Are the Oilers (already) better than last season?

New Oilers' Goalie Jack Campbell Playing With The Toronto Maple Leafs. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
New Oilers' Goalie Jack Campbell Playing With The Toronto Maple Leafs. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 3
Next

But if Campbell numbers bring stability, we can’t say the same about injuries’ reliability. Since January 2021, Campbell suffered three different injuries and was on the Covid list for 10 days. That would have to put these backup goalies onto the main role of the team, and as injuries are unpredictable, it might happen on a regular season game, a pivotal playoff one or, if everything goes all right, they simply don’t happen at all. Apart from that, for an athlete to return on the same or higher level he was before the injury isn’t an easy thing. Here we have a comparison of Campbell’s numbers before and after his injuries made by Allan Mitchell on The Athletic.

"On January 26, 2021, he suffered a leg injury and missed 14 games. Campbell played in just two games before the injury, with a .923 save percentage and a goals-against average of just over 2.00. He won both games. Upon his return, Campbell shut out the Oilers in Edmonton, stopping 30 shots on February 27. On March 1, it was reported he had a lower-body injury and missed eight games. He returned on March 20, and went 5-0-0 with a .950 save percentage."

In last season, he had to deal with another injury and he also was placed on the Covid list for 10 days. His numbers after these intervals recovering are listed next, taken from the same source already credited:

"On December 18, he was placed on the Covid list for 10 days. In the five games before he was placed on the ineligible list, he posted a .909 save percentage (going 3-1-1). In the five games after his return, Campbell’s save percentage was .907 (4-0-1 record). Campbell’s performance was within the range of expectations upon his return. Beginning March 10, 2022, he missed 10 games with a rib injury. In the five games before the injury, his save percentage was .842 (1-2-1) and he was in and out of the lineup (missed five games during the leadup to his trip to the injured list). Upon return, in the first five games, Campbell posted an .889 save percentage but delivered a 4-0-1 record. It’s possible Campbell’s rib injury both impacted his performance before he was placed on IR and then lingered after his return. Excluding the five games before the March 10 IR trip, and the first five games after his return, Campbell’s save percentage in 2021-22 was .926. That would have landed Campbell No. 2 among NHL goaltenders with 30 or more games one year ago. His final total, .914, was good enough for No. 14 across the league among qualifying goaltenders."

Campbell Defending His Former Team
Campbell Defending His Former Team. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

As we could see, Campbell is more than capable of returning playing great after an injury. And if we start to compare on what the Oilers had last season, that is not a concern for a team used to have the 40-year-old Mike Smith on goal.

There is this old saying: “Every great team starts with a great goalie”. We all know Campbell will hardly be a Vezina candidate, and Skinner still has a lot of time to improve. But the Oilers doesn’t need a Vezina winner (right, Calgary Flames?), they just need someone more reliable than the ones we saw in the last years between the pipes. And with the best team of the decade, Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner (and even Pickard if necessary) brings, in theory, a security the Oilers doesn’t see in a really long time.

Next. Top 3 Fantasy Breakout Players On The Edmonton Oilers for 2022. dark