TORONTO- After starting this season off with some less than stellar play, it seems Ben Scrivens is on his way back to being the netminder his Toronto Marlies’ club expected.
In his first seven games of the season, the 26-year-old went 3-4-0 with a 3.13 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. He allowed four or more goals in three of those starts, after allowing four or more goals only five times in 39 appearances last year, and at points was being out played by back-up Jussi Rynnas.
However, in his last four outings he’s gone 3-1-0 with a 2.25 Goals-against average and .927 save percentage, numbers that are much closer to what he did for the entire year last season.
“We have had numerous discussions on all kinds of things and he just didn’t feel his standard of play was there early,” said Marlies heach coach Dallas Eakins about Scrivens. “(But) he’s played some games very well as of late and he’s basically back to where he was last year. Now the challenge is to do what he did last year and give us 20 games in a row that are excellent.”
While it looks as if Scrivens is regaining the poise that helped him set franchise-best numbers last season en route to a Calder Cup appearance, the Cornell grad can’t pin-point any specific reason as to why he got off to a sluggish start.
“I don’t know,” said Scrivens when asked about his early-season slump. “It could be a 1000 things or nothing, just some bad luck. Bottom line was it just wasn’t good enough.”
It would be easy to believe that last season’s play-off run that shortened up the off-season played a factor. Or it could be the fact if the NHL was in full swing he’d most likely have started the year with the Toronto Maple Leafs instead. But Scrivens insists that staying for another run in the AHL and not being with the big club didn’t factor into play.
“My head is firmly in the AHL with the Marlies and I’m trying to improve my game. All that other stuff will take care of itself,” said Scrivens.
Another possibility that could have played into Scrivens’ struggles was the club changing goaltending coaches from Francois Allaire to Rick St. Croix. But the Spruce Grove, Alta. native ruled that out and even went as far to say that St. Croix has been an immediate impact in a positive way.
“I’ve been a big supporter of Franky, he’s a huge reason I came to Toronto, but all that stuff is out of my control,” said Scrivens. “I’ve worked with goaltending coaches before Franky so I’m not a guy who’s unable to adjust.
“Having Rick come in, he’s a fantastic guy. He’s a great guy to talk to because he’s played the game at a high level, in the city. So the mentality of what it takes to play in Toronto, he has a firm grasp on that and he adds a new view point.”
Regardless of what could have happened with Scrivens early in the year, it looks to have been nothing more than a slump. His recent play has been comparable to what he did last season when he put up a 2.04 goals-against average and .926 save percentage to go along with the Haps Holmes award.
“He’s got good hockey sense. Ben’s on line and I’ve had no worries with him,” said Eakins. “I knew he’d come through it and he’s well on his way to another good season.”