2015-16 Canadiens Season Review: Ben Scrivens was a gamble that didn't pay off
Scrivens was brought in to save the Habs from drowning, but was barely able to tread water himself, despite his flailing best.
Ben Scrivens was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on December 28 in return for forward Zack Kassian. At the time, Carey Price had been out for just over a month and the hope was that the MVP would soon be back.
We all know how the story turned out, and it's likely that the Canadiens knew more than they let on. In that case, they knew they needed to get Mike Condon some help. Dustin Tokarski was able to play well to a point in his time with the team, but it was clear he was no longer considered a viable NHL option. As it turned out, neither was Scrivens, but it was a gamble the Habs needed to make at the time.
It was easy to see what they were thinking. Scrivens was a goaltender who had had flashes of brilliance in the NHL, and wouldn't command a ransom from a team that could sense their panic. It also provided them an out with Kassian, whom the team was prepared to move on from.
Scrivens struggled early on. His first four starts were not good, allowing 15 goals in four straight losses to begin his Canadiens career. Then, he got a start against his former team, and he showed some of those moments where it looked like he'd turned things around.
On Super Bowl weekend, the team was looking for a spark to get back into the playoff race, and Scrivens gave it to them. He had a great performance, stopping 23 of 24 shots and getting the win versus the Oilers. He got the start the next afternoon against Carolina and stole that game in a shootout win. He got a third straight start and beat the Tampa Bay Lightning two days later.
Another angle of the Ben Scrivens save. pic.twitter.com/hkkeoPPX55— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 30, 2015
That three-game stretch was incredible. He saved 96 percent of shots faced, and it had earned him a fourth straight start, against the Buffalo Sabres. It looked like the Canadiens were turning it around and the gamble was paying off.
Scrivens allowed five goals on eight shots and was pulled from the game. He went 2-4 the rest of the season, and traded poor starts with Condon for the remainder of the season.
It was clear that the team had determined he was not going to be the one to take the reins, and that came to a head when his NHL spot was given as collateral in the team's signing of free agent Charlie Lindgren.
In terms of overall statistics, Scrivens was below average. His Goals Saved Above Average was -3.94. Among goaltenders who qualified for the sample, that put him 48th in the league. For comparison's sake, Condon was 67th of 68 qualified goaltenders.
Scrivens did contribute to the Canadiens this season. He gave them some of their best moments in a second half to forget. He also gave Condon time to regroup and ease the burden of being thrust into a starter's role in his first NHL season. He also allowed the Canadiens to give Zachary Fucale time to develop in the American Hockey League and not throw him into a situation he would likely fail.
Those aren't the positives Marc Bergevin was looking for when he brought Scrivens into the fold, but when you pin your playoff hoped on goaltender with a career .905 save percentage, that's about the best that could be realistically expected.