Talk of ‘tanking’ takes centre stage as the Edmonton Oilers prepare to host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Neither the Oilers or Sabres have much left to play for this season, but the consolation for turning in the league’s worst record is an increased chance at landing the coveted No. 1 draft choice.
Not surprisingly, losing on purpose in the name of Connor McDavid is not a road the Oilers appear willing to go down. Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens unloaded at the suggestion on Wednesday after practice.
Via the Edmonton Sun:
“If anybody even insinuated to me that I was trying not to win, you’d have a fight I think,” Scrivens said Wednesday.
“That’s the most unbelievable thing you can say to a professional: try not to win this game.”
Scrivens and his Oilers teammates’ collective anger was front page news in the Edmonton Sun Thursday.
Losing a game on purpose is not something that enters a professional hockey player’s mindset, according to Scrivens. The 28-year-old added that tanking is a suggestion that only those who have never competed would entertain.
“It’s mind-blowing that people even think that, that we’re not trying to win,” continued Scrivens. “It’s people who never played competitively, it’s people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. People who have never played a competitive game in their life and they’re trying to say we should tank a game? It’s head shaking.
Simply put, he’s tired of questions about tanking.
“And the fact that we have to answer questions about it … not that they’re stupid questions, but they’re questions about a stupid topic because people keep bringing it up who have no idea what they’re talking about,” the goaltender said.
Scrivens is sporting a 3.05 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage in 35 appearances this season. Those numbers are slightly better than teammate Viktor Fasth’s 3.29 and .891 marks.
While the prospect of landing a potential generational talent like McDavid might be appetizing to fans and even some media members, it’s not something a goaltender charged with facing nearly 30 shots per night behind one of the league’s most porous defences views as a desirable outcome.