Devan Dubnyk says he still considers himself the Edmonton Oilers’ top goalie. But it looks like head coach Dallas Eakins envisions a Nos. 1 and 1a situation with Dubnyk and Ilya Bryzgalov as the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing with Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer. “Both of our guys are playing well now, and these aren’t easy decisions,” Eakins said following practice Monday. Bryzgalov started all three games on their just-completed road trip, with Dubnyk coming out of the bullpen twice — when Bryzgalov was bowled over by Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt and when the Oilers hung Bryzgalov out to dry and he gave up four goals to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubnyk, who was terrific in relief Sunday in Dallas, will get the start against the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday at Rexall Place with Bryzgalov’s medical update still forthcoming — Bryzgalov appeared to hurt his head/neck in the collision. The Oilers recalled Jason LaBarbera from the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons on Monday afternoon and sent defenceman Corey Potter down to the farm team. When asked if he still considers him the No. 1, he didn’t flinch. “Absolutely, I still do,” said Dubnyk, who made two or three excellent stops when the Stars led 2-1 and were pressing for a third goal. Eakins, who used to coach Reimer with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, certainly sees how well the Reimer-Bernier tandem is playing with the Leafs, who’ve been repeatedly outshot but still have managed to scrape together points in the Eastern Conference. He opted to go with Bryzgalov in Dallas to end the road trip, even after he gave up the four in Columbus, maybe because his family had flown in from New Jersey for the game or maybe he’d taken a look at Dubnyk’s lowly record against the Stars over the years (one win), or a combination of both. All we know is competition is healthy. Easier than having no goalies going. When Dubnyk was struggling the first couple of weeks and then-backup LaBarbera wasn’t getting the job done before being sent to the AHL farm, the Oilers needed a save. Now they’re getting lots of them. Both Dubnyk and Bryzgalov are unrestricted free-agents at the end of the season and the betting is one of them will be offered up at the trade deadline if the Oilers get a suitor because they’d rather not have both goalies free to walk away July 1. But that’s tomorrow. This is today. “I like the battle but the end result for the battle, and it’s a friendly one, is that somebody takes it (the starting job),” Eakins said.
Competition in Edmonton Oilers net seems to be paying off
Edmonton Journal | Dec 3