At face value, the Oilers’ situation in net is less than ideal, especially given the club’s aspirations to contend. The same might have been said entering last season with the same duo of netminders, yet somehow a 38 year old Mike Smith authored one of the best stretches of his career, creating a platform for his team to easily qualify for the North Division’s playoffs. Perhaps looking at a quote from an NFL coach can help us understand how he was able to do it, and if he can pull it off again this year.
Sean Payton, head coach for the New Orleans Saints, has had an incredible run of success during his decade-and-a-half-plus run in the Big Easy, but for the first time will be without Drew Brees at quarterback. When asked on September 7th ahead of their week 1 game about how he has coached former 1st overall pick Jameis Winston to, hopefully, make better decisions than his final year in Tampa Bay, Payton responded in part by describing how success starts with the rest of the offence “painting a clear picture” for the quarterback to read easily. The picture is painted by strong play design, crisp routes, stout blocks, and finally the quarterback’s ability to quickly assess when and where the receivers are open in a certain order based on how the defence is aligned, or “getting through your progressions” as Drew often put it. Both goalies and quarterbacks rely on using split second decision making through habits, reflexes, and intuition.