As with any struggling goalkeeper, I think there are many reasons why Campbell’s play has been lackluster so far in Oil Country. Some are easier to fix than others. But nothing is impossible.
I wouldn’t bet on Campbell. He overcame long odds to get to where he is now. But here are some areas in his game that need improvement.
Target is all about engineering. The netkeeper’s shoulders and feet should – in most cases when play is over the goal line – form an isosceles triangle with the puck. But for now, Campbell struggles with this aspect of his game. His alignment is off, which is what prevents him from spinning efficiently and getting square on the shot.
Campbell has a bad habit of swinging his right foot forward when he puts his feet up. Either way, the netminder Oilers start out relatively square with the shooter. But as the Nashville player approaches, his right foot moves forward.
This leaves Campbell vulnerable to any sideways pass to the side of the blocker. As you can see from the video, his offset foot makes it difficult for Campbell to spin and square up to the shot. Even if it’s temporary, Campbell should be able to rotate his body with the Oilers logo facing the shooter.
When it doesn’t, there are plenty of open networks to shoot at. Campbell is only able to block the ice with a cushion and cover a marginal amount of space vertically with his blocking arm. It arrives instead of pushing. Ideally, Campbell would arrive on time with his chest fully available to save those balls.
When Campbell was at his best with the Toronto Maple Leafs, I thought he was really good at being patient on his limbs. But now I see him getting down on his knees far too soon. And often.
The modern goal is not about whether the goalkeeper should fall onto the ice. It’s when. These clips are all examples of when Campbell would run out of patience and fall long before any filming attempt.
Sometimes it is caused by a screen. Other times it is a player approaching the net. But the bottom line is, Campbell doesn’t make very good reads. It causes him to hit the panic button and drop him early.
When you see the goalkeeper sliding around the crease trying to find the puck, it’s never a good sign. Campbell tends to skip his posts and abandon the network. That’s a tough combination with a team like Edmonton who don’t block many shots and have struggled to tie sticks in front of their own net.
Edmonton did no favors for Campbell in this department. The Oilers are 20th in the NHL when it comes to blocking shots. But I think Campbell needs to rethink how he handles traffic.
I can find an excuse for Campbell in each of these passages. The problem, however, is the sheer volume of checked shots that has eluded the Edmonton striker this year. Finding a disc through traffic is a skill. Some goalkeepers are better than others. There are many different techniques that can be used.
I don’t think Campbell was active enough in trying to find a stick shooter blade. It tends to lock into one vantage point. For goalkeepers, watching shots through traffic is all about finding open windows.
In the past few years, NHL goaltenders have begun to play more straight when traffic is present. They look over their shoulders and not around the players whenever possible, which leads to better balance and sight lines.
I don’t like blaming goalkeepers for scoring goals when the screen is on. But when it becomes an ongoing problem, as happened with Campbell, a technical reset is necessary.
Campbell has always favored soft and flexible equipment. It has been resisting modernization. This costs him targets against her.
Most web makers have opted for Velcro attachment points in recent years, but Campbell has remained consistent in his use of old-school leather straps. And as you can see when Nazem Qadri beat Campbell, his pads do a poor job of closing the five holes.
That’s because his pads are very flexible. Which also allows the disc to beat the hip height of the pad occasionally. However, Campbell must be comfortable in his equipment and unwilling to change.
I don’t think it’s just the soft pads that hurt Campbell. It is an awareness of one’s equipment. In the first clip, Colin Miller literally shoots a puck through the strap of Campbell’s glove.
I think the manufacturer deserves a lot of the blame for loosely tying his glove. Although Miller has one of the toughest shots in the NHL, there is no excuse for equipment failures of this magnitude.
But in the end, Campbell’s equipment is his responsibility. He must check them regularly for damage or defective parts. Over time, the glove strap can stretch. Campbell should have noticed this and notified the Oilers’ equipment crew.
To me, Campbell’s fiasco is a great example of how hockey players can tune in to their equipment. His old-school platforms represent his unwillingness to embrace technology.
Body language is the best way to gauge how a goalkeeper is feeling. Campbell’s condition progressively worsened during the 2022-23 season.
These goals seem physically painful to Campbell. And everyone sees it. He does not hide disappointment in himself. And I think this is detrimental over time.
Campbell has looked a lot underdog this season for a goalkeeper who’s won six times out of 10. Was he perfect? of course not. But the optics of how it reacts to targets against it is horrendous. It must change.
Somewhere inside Campbell is the goaltender who dominated the NHL in the first half of the 2021-22 season. He’s been a game-changer before. And I think he still can.
But time passes. Campbell’s partner, Stuart Skinner, was very strong. And he’s been getting some big starts lately.
One thing I do know: Don’t bet on Jack Campbell. He has proven the hockey world wrong on several occasions. Now he has to do it all over again.