The Edmonton Oilers have a difficult season in 2017-2018, and one of the reason for their frustrating results is certainly Cam Talbot's play, who is struggling a lot since the start of the year. Talbot was outstanding in 2016-2017, helping the Oilers to end a ten year playoff drought with a record of 47-26-9. They eventually lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round, but there was a lot of encouraging signs for this year.
Things are not going as expected in Edmonton this season, as the Oilers are currently sixth in the Pacific division with a record of 19-23-3. Oilers offense only produced 122 goals in 45 games so far this season, good for the 23rd rank in the NHL, and their defense, ranked 26th in the league, is not any better, as they allowed 145 goals. Their goal differential is at minus 23. The special teams are also struggling a lot this season, as they are ranked 25th on the power play (16%) and dead last on the penalty killing (71.4%)
Cam Talbot is not the only reason for their bad season, but he certainly deserves a part of the blame, especially when we compare his numbers from this season to those he had last year. In 35 starts so far this year, he has a record of 15-16-2 with a 3.15 goal-against average and a .900 save percentage. Last season, he registered 42 wins in 73 starts with a 2.39 goal-against average and a .919 save percentage.
Head coach Todd McLellan pulled Talbot early twice in the last four games to give some ice-time to newly acquired netminder Al Montoya, and he won't hesitate to do the same in the futur, as long as Talbot's play doesn't get better. He pulled him on January sixth, when he allowed four goals on 19 shots against the Dallas Stars, and he did the same last night, after Talbot allowed two goals on three shots against the Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers eventually won that game 4-2, thanks to the 19 saves performance from Montoya.
Talbot will get the start tonight to face the Vegas Golden Knights, as reported on Twitter by hockey insider John Shannon. The Golden Knights are currently first in the Pacific division with a record of 29-10-2. Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the start in net for Vegas.