Ben Scrivens had a stellar campaign last year for the Toronto Marlies helping them to a Calder Cup final appearance. Naturally, as is the case when any Maple Leafs player or prospect has the slightest bit of success, he was quickly put on a pedestal and viewed as the next big thing. This year Scrivens hasn’t been awful, but he hasn’t played at the level that he was at last year.
In 2011-12 for the Marlies, Scrivens posted great numbers with a .926 save percentage and 2.04 goals against average. He also added four shutouts and 22 victories. In addition to that he got into 12 games with the Leafs, and recorded a .902 save percentage at the NHL level. Things were looking bright.
Keep in mind; although Scrivens didn’t look out of place last year in his 12 games with the Leafs, he had just a single victory over a playoff team, the St. Louis Blues. His other three victories came against non-playoff squads, so it was a very small body of work to judge him on that level.
This season, however, Scrivens has come down to earth just a little bit. He has a record of 5-6 with a .900 save percentage. A little more concerning though is the way some of the goals are going in. Scrivens has given up several bad goals so far in 2012-13 and just isn’t making the key saves he was making last year.
The main reason for the early season struggles could very well be fatigue. The 2011-12 campaign surely took a toll on Scrivens and counting all the playoff games, he played the most he ever has in his career by a wide margin. He had 39 regular season games for the Marlies, plus 17 postseason contests, and then 12 more with the Leafs for a total of 68. That doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot, but when you consider he only played in 49 games in 2010-11 between the Marlies and Reading Royals, then it’s a bit of a jump. Not to mention the intensity that 17 AHL playoff games can take out of you. Prior to that Scrivens played at Cornell University where he was used to just playing an average of only 35 games a year.
The Marlies schedule so far has been brutal also. Three times already they have had to play three times in three nights and last week Scrivens had to play back-to-back-to-back games. Add in an injury to Jussi Rynnas and unproven backup Mark Owuya, and all of a sudden Scrivens may have to play a lot more than intended. He could be starting to wear down.
It’s not like Scrivens play has fallen off so drastically that he can’t recover. The Marlies also haven’t played as well in front of him and he has been the victim of a few bad bounces. And believe me, if there is a bad bounce out there, Scrivens will surely find it.
Normally when a goalie is struggling to find consistency the best thing to do is let them play their way out of it. I’m not sure that’s the best case with Scrivens though. Using Owuya to give him a break here and there may help him regain his legs, and ultimately return to the steady form he showed he is capable of.