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Sharks vs. Oilers: Previewing the goaltending matchup

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Cam Talbot has been excellent - but will fatigue take a toll?

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A goaltender on a team coached by Todd McLellan played a lot of games this year. The following flowchart sums up McLellan’s goalie deployment strategy very aptly (this was back when Niemi was the starter, mind you):

And we complained about Aaron Dell not getting enough starts this year!

Cam Talbot was mostly excellent for the Edmonton Oilers. He posted an overall save percentage of .919, improving on a .917 from last season, and his even-strength save percentage was great (.928). Talbot also got a lot of starts this season.

His 73 games played is tops in the NHL this season and Talbot is one of just 40 netminders in league history to play in so many games according to hockey-reference.com. Talbot is the third Oilers netminder to play at least 73 games in one season, joining Tommy Salo and Grant Fuhr on the illustrious list; which is to say, yes, it’s been a while.

None of this really matters except for whether or not it matters in this series. So far fatigue hasn’t seemed to affect the Edmonton netminder one bit. The following chart shows both Talbot and Jones’ rolling save percentage at even strength and, well, there hasn’t been a slide to speak of.

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t look great for Jones. The San Jose goalie ended the season with a .912 save percentage, a full .006 below the .918 he posted a season ago. Whether the long season caught up to him or he just flat out experienced a down year, it’s pretty clear Edmonton enters the series with the edge in net.

In the hopes of making you feel a little bit better (assuming you’re rooting for a San Jose series victory, anyway) here’s the full tale of the tape with statistics from corsica.hockey. Enjoy.

So... the good news is Jones holds the edge in high-danger save percentage. The bad news is Talbot has the advantage in literally every other category. Other than that... everything is totally fine.

We all know a body of work over a season doesn’t indicate how a goaltender will play over the course of a series. If there’s one thing watching McLellan coached teams has taught us, it’s that an overworked goalie can turn into a pumpkin in the playoffs at a moment’s notice.

So uh, let’s hope for that while Jones regains the postseason form we grew accustomed to a year ago.