Many people thought that Mike Smith, the Edmonton Oilers’ injured reserve player, would solve the problem and the team would find the answer. That just doesn’t seem like the case, as he’s older, it’s much harder to repeat a performance like the one he had last season, at any age, and injuries are starting to catch up with him.
When activating Smith off the injured reserve, it made sense initially to send Stuart Skinner down to the American Hockey League (AHL) because he is still waivers exempt (“3 goalies on the move as Edmonton Oilers make room for Mike Smith’s return”, Edmonton Journal, Dec. 29, 2021). It was imagined that the pieces would seemingly fall back into place in net like they had last season upon Smith’s return. That wasn’t the case this time around.
This is the second consecutive season for the Oilers in which Smith has missed significant time due to injury. He suffered more serious injuries this season and had to be replaced. Mikko Konkinen was able revert to his backup role. He has statistically performed better with more rest. But with an injury after just his second game back, serious concerns surround the Oilers’ crease and banking on Koskinen to repeatedly hold it down just won’t work.
Smith was not listed as day to-day at this point, so an immediate move that saw IlyaKonovalov recalled and inserted in a backup position on an emergency basis was all that the Oilers could do. It was the second half of the Smith news that I understood, but the Oilers still had two days. Take a step and call SkinnerThe AHL.
It would have made sense to keep Smith off the ice for one more day so that he could be eligible to return to the injured reserve. With a bit of extra time, that could ensure he comes back 100 percent, and doesn’t injure himself immediately again. This would have allowed Skinner to be recalled by the Oilers before the game against New York Rangers. We didn’t do so and saw the tragedy Koskinen caused, leading to us being Post-game: by Dave Tippett, saying “Our goaltender wasn’t very good” and continuing on to say “it was a brutal mistake.”
Skinner has the best numbers
Let’s break down the numbers of all three of the goalies who have played games this season for the Oilers. Let’s not forget wins and goals against average (GAA), which are much more important than statistics like save percentage, QS%, and goals saved over average (GSAA) when assessing the impact of a goaltender on his team. GAA and wins depend more on the number of goals scored by the team. GAA can also reflect poor positioning or defensive play.
Wins & Goals-Against Average
Though many look at wins as a good indication of what a goaltender has done for his team, often don’t look past that. They look at Koskinen’s 12-7-1 record, and believe he has won many games for the Oilers. His 12-2-0 record was when the team was scoring four goals per night in support. With all the players out and in, the scoring has slowed down a bit. He is now 0-5-1. The Oilers are not able to keep him in low-scoring games.
Related: Oilers Have Three Options If They Want To Move Koskinen
Smith and Skinner have a combined record of 6-6-1 with Smith scoring 2-1-1 and Skinner scoring 4-5-0. The Oilers’ best goaltender has the worst win/loss record, an indication of how the team has played in front of him. Skinner still has the best GAA numbers, which gives some insight into how the goalie has performed. Skinner has a 2.70 GAA. Koskinen has 3.19 GAA from a large sample, and Smith has 3.91 with a small sample. No goaltender in today’s game with over a 3.00 GAA on a contending team should be starting in net. It’s not sustainable to be able to win, and once playoff time comes, there’s no chance.
Get a Discount of 10%
The SV% is a better indicator for what the goaltender has done behind each team. The league average for SV% has been.910. Skinner is currently holding a.916SV%. He is the only Oilers goalie to have a SV% that’s even close. Koskinen once again gave a good indication about his overall stats using a large sample. He posted a.900SV% through 20 games. Smith is even worse, and the last two starts didn’t help him, as his SV% on the season in a sub-.900 (.897 SV%).
Quality Start Percentage & Goals Saved Above Average
For all three goalies, QS% is the same as GSAA. QS% is defined as a start where a goalie’s SV% is above league average or at least .885 in games with less than 20 shots faced. A QS% below.500 is considered poor, and a league average of.530 is acceptable. Koskinen’s QS% is.368, Smith’s is.400, Skinner’s is.444. They are all below the league average. Skinner, however, has the highest numbers.
GSAA can be defined as the goalie’s ability to prevent goals based on his SV%, shots faced and league average SV% based on the same number shots faced. However, a goalie who has prevented more goals than allowed is considered to be good. Skinner is the only goalie with a positive GSA of 1.9. This number will rise if there are more games played. Consistent play is the best way to increase it. This is true even for bad play. Koskinen is already at -6.1 GSAA and Smith is at -2.3 after just five games.
The Oilers won’t start Konovalov if Smith, Koskinen or Skinner aren’t available. He’s in a position to be an emergency backup for the team, but he is fourth string. They should recall Skinner and send Konovalov down to the AHL. This will allow Skinner to start all future games, regardless of whether Smith is healthy. Skinner has been the Oilers’ best goalie in a time of great struggle. The team could benefit from new blood and a boost in wins.
There has seemed like there’s just more confidence in front of Skinner at this point, and on a slide like this, confidence is very important. You can’t go into a game feeling like you need to score a ton of goals to win. Because the Oilers are more offensively inclined, this creates more chances of the Oilers coming back against them. This is a huge advantage because you know your goaltender has the ability to save a game or keep your team in it.
Whether it’s trading a goaltender away or demoting one, at least when you look at the three goaltenders for the Oilers this season, Skinner is most deserving of a spot on the team starting games. It’s time to look forward and forget about the mistakes of the past.
Rob Couch is a freelance writer for THW, focusing primarily on the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. He will cover everything you need to know regarding fantasy hockey. He will keep your up-to-date with the NHL Stat Corner as well as trade discussions from across the NHL.
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