Followers of the Edmonton Oilers shall be speaking about Mike Smith’s help in additional time on Tuesday night time for fairly some time. A play few netminders would have the wherewithal to make, Smith being the puck handler he’s, the veteran realized that he had Connor McDavid with an open chunk of ice and easily despatched the puck out to a spot the speedy heart may choose it up. The outcome was an additional time breakaway aim that gave the Oilers a much-needed win, put the group in second place within the Pacific Division, and allowed McDavid to maintain his level streak alive.
Smith, who has been a goal for quite a lot of followers (together with myself) over the previous couple of months earned himself a ton of goodwill with the play, however not solely that, he’s 4-0-1 in his final 5 begins with a .931Sv% and a pair of.19 GAA. He was the Oilers’ finest participant on Tuesday night time and he’s been enjoying higher throughout a stretch of video games which might be essential for this franchise.
The query some are asking now could be, how for much longer did he make his leash with that play and the earlier 4 video games?
A Scorching Mike Smith Is Harmful
Even when followers are harping on Mike Smith, most have contended that when he’s on his recreation, he’s extraordinarily good. Smith is older and injury-prone, however he’s additionally a competitor who battles. When he’s feeling his oats and his recreation goes properly, he’s a legit starter that has the power to steal a recreation, as he did Tuesday night. That’s the Smith most Oilers followers need and would overtly welcome if he was constant. He typically isn’t.
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If he can keep productive and end off the final 11 video games on a heater, Edmonton has an opportunity to go on a deep run. A Smith who’s clicking with a Mikko Koskinen who isn’t overworked could be a robust tandem.
Is This Dependable?
Appreciating the additional time play for what it was and acknowledging the latest run Smith has been on, there have nonetheless been warning indicators. Even within the recreation on Tuesday, Smith appeared to tweak one thing on the finish of the third interval and there was some thought he would possibly come out of the sport as he tried to shake off what seemed like an damage. Finally, he battled it out and that led to the play, however there’s at all times a priority that the subsequent play may very well be his final play.
On a number of events this season, Smith has gone all the way down to an damage. He was pegged to be the starter this season after a powerful 2020-21 marketing campaign however has performed in solely 22 video games as a result of he’s been on the shelf repeatedly. The priority for the Oilers is that driving a scorching goalie till that goalie will get damage will not be a sensible recreation plan. To be truthful, that’s an actual risk with Smith.
There’s additionally the fear that this heater will flip right into a cooler. It’s occurred earlier than and there’s little doubt it may well occur once more. Some followers will level out that even when Smith’s numbers are robust, he seems to be misplaced and sloppy. Whether or not he performs the puck an excessive amount of or is out of place and has to make an extremely fortunate save, that luck gained’t final ceaselessly. When it runs out, the Oilers may very well be in bother.
Can One Massive Play and A Few Good Video games Wipe Away the Previous?
Hyped and forgiving followers will see that end on Tuesday and assume the Mike Smith of outdated is again. They’ll take a look at his improved save proportion and consider him when he says he’s simply beginning to really feel good in internet and is discovering his stride. Others will take a look at latest historical past and say this isn’t going to final. It’s exhausting to know which narrative to purchase into.
Followers who’ve been essential of Smith’s total tenure with the Oilers must be giving him props for Tuesday’s recreation. He deserves it and he’s the only real motive the Oilers earned two factors in that recreation. It’s additionally truthful to take a look at Smith based mostly not solely on that recreation however his total season. There’s motive to be grateful, but additionally maintain your fingers crossed for those who’re an Oilers fan.
And the thought of holding your fingers crossed?… Let’s simply say, not plenty of latest Stanley Cup winners used that technique to win all of it.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance author, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL information and rumors, whereas additionally writing options on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted supply for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, however greater than that, he’s on a mission to maintain readers updated with the most recent NHL rumors and commerce speak. Jim is a every day should for readers who wish to be “within the know.”
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