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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

At Random: The Oven Mitt

The book is out on Edmonton Oilersgoaltender Mikko Koskinen, and it reads like a furniture mover’s nightmare – everything goes upstairs. It was obvious on Sunday the Vegas Golden Knights had been reading up on the big Finn chapter and verse as they scored six goals on 34 shots on the way to a 6-3 win.

Despite being six-foot-seven, Koskinen has made a troubling habit of playing small in the 46 appearances he’s made this season. If you shoot high on him, particularly on the glove side, you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding twine like Vegas forwards Cody Eakin and Jonathan Marchessault did. At times, it seems like Koskinen might as well be wearing an oven mitt on that less-than-stellar catching hand of his.

While picking on Koskinen for one performance that wasn’t close to being up to par is low-hanging fruit – he’s had some very good moments in going 8-4-2 since the Oilers traded Cam Talbot and tagged Koskinen as their man the reality is that once the book is out on you, it’s must-read material for every shooter in the league.

The problem moving forward for Koskinen, who the Oilers have committed to by way of a three-year-contract worth $13.5 million thanks to Pete Chiarelli and whoever else thought signing him in January was a good idea, is shooters are going to keep chucking the rubber bar-down until the book changes. Can Koskinen, 30, and goaltending coach Dustin Schwartz re-write that book?

UP AND DOWN

Mar 13, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New Jersey Devils forward Stefan Noesen (23) battles for position with Edmonton Oilers defensemen Oscar Klefbom (77) in front of goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

All told, Koskinen is 22-17-4 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a save-percentage of .909 (he’s .915 at even strength and .862 shorthanded). That .909 puts him 18th among 27 goaltenders who have played 40-or-more games, and there’s been too many swings in performance for my liking. Koskinen can be ridiculously good one night, sieve-like the next.

Just looking at the 14 games since Talbot was dealt to Philadelphia, Koskinen has made five appearances where he finished under .900 in save-percentage. In the nine other games during the stretch, he’s been .920 or better (.940 or better in six of those). Save percentage isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to assessing goaltenders and you can certainly dig deeper, but my eyes tell me that there’s too much of a gap between Koskinen’s best and worst.

We saw that in Koskinen Sunday. Aside from the top-cheese stuff from Eakin and Marchessault, the 4-2 goal by Marchessault and the 6-3 goal by Alex Tuch to rub it in when the game was decided were both soft.Teams don’t need .930, which Koskinen is clearly capable of, from their stoppers to win games, but you can’t win if you’re under .900. Coaches love consistency and lack of same is what got Talbot sent down the road.

I’m not of the mind that Koskinen can’t tighten up the swings between his best performances and ones like we saw against the Golden Knights, but it’s going to take a lot of work with Schwartz or whoever is working with Edmonton’s goaltenders down the road. And it’ll have to happen with every shooter knowing high-glove is where the money is until Koskinen proves otherwise.

THE WAY I SEE IT

I’ve got no issue with Koskinen signing the contract Chiarelli and the Oilers put in front of him when they decided he was a better option than Talbot. You’d have signed it. I’d have signed it. The problem with the contract, as many people noted when the ink was done, was the timing. There was no need to commit to Koskinen then. Chiarelli jumped the gun.

On some nights, Koskinen looks like he’ll be worth every dime of that deal. On others, we get what we saw Sunday in Sin City. Far better that the Oilers took a longer look at Koskinen, his body of work for an entire season, before making a three-year commitment. As it stands, the goaltending situation going into the off-season remains up in air, but now there’s $13.5 million attached to that question mark.

  • This.Is.NHL

    Isn’t it funny how the Oilers never shoot top conner ever and Koskinen can seem to make those saves I wonder if theres any consolation between the two.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Is there a book out on every other goaltender in the league? I’m almost certain there is.

    Do you have an idea on where most of the goalies face shots? Do you know where players prefer to shoot on most, if not all, NHL goalies?

    It makes it easy for opposition shooters to pick shots on the Oilers goaltender, due to the fact that so much time is afforded to them by the lady back checking and low IQ defending.
    When the opposing team can take their time and take around 50 shots on the goaltender: one or two snipers will be able to bury it where they want.

    To pick on the goalie who is playing back to back against one of the favorites in the West is weak af.

    Koskinen shouldn’t have even started in that game to begin with, and if it wasn’t for some stellar saves in the 1st-the team would have allowed 6 in the 1st period alone.

    It also appears as Chiarelli has become the salt and pepper of the most of these articles, added in to give the substance some flavor.

      • Rufio Barcoli

        Let me tell you about those.
        Those are the shots that are taken but went wide or got blocked. NHL only considers shots that hit the goalie or the net.

        That it is the problem with some of the contracts and it’s negotiations as well.
        See a player will take 10 shots in a game, 7 shots will go wide and be blocked, 2 will hit the goalie and 1 will go in the net. At the end of the night that player finishes with a 33% shooting average, when in reality is was only 10%.

        • Rufio Barcoli

          Since I took time to reply and answer your question, would you be so kind a return the favor?

          I asked a few in my earlier comment:
          Is there a book out on every other goaltender in the league?
          Do you have an idea on where most of the goalies face shots?
          Do you know where players prefer to shoot on most, if not all, NHL goalies?

  • SlovakOiler

    Like you wrote and Burger Bob said, the “brain trust” approved the deal. It was not just Chiarelli. Everybody who approved it should be gone! The term and especially the timing was horrendous!

  • Heschultzhescores

    I know it’s been beat to death, but Chia has crippled this team in lack of talent, lack of cap to improve the talent, and long term deals with lack of talent. If he wasn’t sabotaging the team, then he and anyone who allowed him to make all this future crushing moves, also has a lack of talent.

  • Derian Hatcher

    Yet another example of many when the fans knew more than the so-called hockey people who are paid handsomely to build a team. How on earth do Chiarelli and the rest even look themselves in the mirror? Stauffer mentioned on his show last month that the Oiler staff (including himself) get a copy of all that is written about the club. If this is the case (???), I’m doubtful these hockey people read ANYTHING written about the team. They keep making the most idiotic decisions in sports. That includes you Bobby Nicks – do everyone a favor and resign immediately before you do more damage.

      • Derian Hatcher

        I’m not saying I’m a really smart guy, so you can skip the insults.

        But I will tell you this…I, and most others who write and comment on this site, probably including you, would NEVER have extended Koskinen in January, never have traded Cagguila for Manning and would probably not have trade scoring wingers for what we have now – or at least have held out for a better return.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers defensive system sia huge problem it was under TM and it is under Hitch and the assistants seem to have no idea how to fix it. Yes there are lots of brain farts in our end, but I have seen zero changes in the system and it makes the Oilers very very easy to play against and when the Oilers are in their own end, it’s a tire fire 65 percent of the time.

    As for Koskinen, goes down too early, stays down too long. Schwartz has him making himself too small in his crouch. Talbot was doing the same damn thing yet Schwartz still has a job here, sorry but Schwartz needs to go back to working with the Oil Kings and the Oilers need to find a proven NHL goalie coach.I seriously question if the Assitants are the right guys for the job, because wheat we were told at the start of the season and the specialties the assistants supposedly brought to the club seems to be non exsistant. THH PP PK and defensive system in our end are terrible were last year and they are no better this year and I dont see nay improvement on the horizon

  • Towers-of-dub

    He needs to spend the summer working with an NHL calibre goaltending clinic. It needs to be repeated, day in day out, over an over again, working on NHL level goaltending fundamentals, such as playing big, making yourself the target, not making the top corner glove hand the target. When I played goal as a kid, even at a low level of hockey, the one thing that my goaltending coach taught me that mattered above else, is if you give the shooter a target, that’s where he’s shooting. Make yourself the target, and they’ll hit you 92% of the time.

  • Oilers_1978

    this is a goalie coach issue…all oilers goalies eventually run into the same issue…he is not a coach..he a goalie killer…the list goes on and on…from dubnyk to now koski…but the coach remains…same as the other top office idiots..

    • HockeyRooster

      I agree we saw the exact same thing with Dubnyk. Huge guy playing small. Talbot played small for a 6’3″ guy and Mikko’s playing the same way with his huge frame. However, Dubnyk had a different goalie coach than Talb’s and Mikko. Maybe its the jersey or maybe Bobby’s right, its the water.
      I just want someone to fix this f’ing problem! You’re tall, play goal like you are!!!!!!

  • Spoils

    can anyone explain that contract? I’ve got a theory for a lot of Chiarelli’s moves, signing Koskinen is a mystery to me.

    My only thought is that he made a promise to Koskinen that he would sign him long term if Koskinen became the starter and so he made good on his way out of town.

    • HockeyRooster

      I’m no conspiracy theorist or tinfoil hat wearer but Chia had to have been trolling us. I don’t see how else it could be explained. Reinhart, Spooner, Manning, Koskinen signing. (I didn’t even mention the Hall trade…)
      I do think, contract aside, Mikko’s an NHL goalie who will benefit with a better defensive team (if he gets one).

      • Himynameistaylor

        What possible upgrades to a solid core of Klefbom, Nurse, Larsson and Sekera need to be made? Evan Bouchard? Caleb Jones.

        It’s not always the defence and this year the defence has looked better than previous years, so that leash is already pretty short.

    • camdog

      Promise would have been made to Nicholson (if anybody) that they wouldn’t go into off season without somebody signed. Nicholson put the panic on PC early on in season. It was clear PC was getting fired if he didn’t meet “certain” goals.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      i didnt understand the Koskinen signing and why they announced it ahead of trading Talbot all it did was weaken the value for Talbot and that was already low, they could have waited till the trade deadline was over then announced Koskinen’s signing.I still think giving Koskinen that kind of money for 3 years with only 20 or some games under his belt was idiotic. Let’s say Koskinen doenst work out, that isnt an easy contract to trade, with that kind of term and money ATM. Schwartz needs to go now not later and the Oilers need to get a proven NHL goalie coach and get their goalies working with them, because Talbot and Ksokinen are doing the same bad habits that is costing the team goals, and they need to get out of them and Talbot had this issue all last year and this year now Koskinen is doing the same thing. This is bad habits in their play, and that falls on Schwartz to help cure and he did nothing to cure it with Talbot in two years and Koskinen picked his up this year after working with Schwartz, the guys needs to go, what amazes me though is no one in the Oilers Mgmt can see it, like wilfully blind or just dont care…who knows which it is

      • camdog

        Oilers Executive went into season with the idea that the best player of Koskinen vs Talbot was getting next years starting job. They signed him first because scared if Koskinen had leverage with Talbot gone, he’d ask for more. But they still gave him 1 million a season too much anyways. The Oilers like to negotiate against themselves…The Oilers Executive aren’t the smartest at times.

  • Oiler Al

    Swartz and Trent Yawny need to be fired out the big cannon onto the garbage heap.They have made zero adjustments to the play of the defense and goal tending.This has gone on all season.

  • hockeyartist

    I’m no goalie expert but Koskinen is a backup goalie IMHO. He goes down on every single shot. NHL snipers know glove high on Koskinen is his achiles heel and they can hit that corner. I dont know how many goals I’ve seen where if he just stood there the puck would hit him. Quenville in the Chicago game is one good example, Eakin and Marchessault, last night another. As he’s going down the puck is going up and he waves when it goes by. Another big hole the new GM is going to have to fill.

    • HockeyRooster

      The butterfly is how goaltending works now. Long gone are the days of standing up until you had to go down or make a kick save (remember those?). Now, they play the angles and play percentages. The good ones do that better than the average guys (like Mikko). They ALL go down quickly and stay down until the puck out of the zone or play is stopped. Watch the goalies next time you watch a game. They are going down prior to the shot and stay down moving post to post as the puck moves in the zone.
      Hell, my 8 year old (first year with goalie equipment) went to a goalie camp and they were teaching him the butterfly. Its all he can do to keep his balance with goalie gear on and yet they spent 25% of the camp working on butterfly.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Koskinen has won 6 of his last 8 starts. “Koskinen is 22-17-4 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a save-percentage of .909 (he’s .915 at even strength and .862 shorthanded). That .909 puts him 18th among 27 goaltenders who have played 40-or-more games”. Cam Talbot was 55th-60th all season.
    Every goaltender has something to work on, Koskinen 6 ft 7″ and covers a ton of net. Improving his glove hand this off season will be a priority.

  • ed from edmonton

    So I’m thinking the Oil should hire Sean Burke as “GM” and show him his job description that looks a lot like that of a goalie coach. The new Poho can actually run things.

    • Himynameistaylor

      He might come here. Brendan plays for the g bears so that might be an incentive but I can’t be sure, i’m pretty sure Brendan’s eligibility is up after this year.

  • billsbills

    “Can Koskinen, 30, and goaltending coach Dustin Schwartz re-write that book?”

    Well it seems to me that D Schwartz is the author of this book. It told the same story with Can Talbot. The longer he worked with DS, the worse he got. I can’t be the only one that sees this. I mean I would take Chabot back over Schwartz. At least goaltenders progressed under Chabot. Every goalie we’ve had since the start of the 2014 season under Schwartz has regressed in skill and stats. The book reads go down early and be deep in the net.

    • Scratch

      Scnwartz has a horrible record with our goaltenders, Talbot, Broissoilt and now Koskinen. Having a 6 foot 7 goalie on his knees whenever the puck is in the zone is ridiculous, he had Talbot doing the same thing and that got him run out of town. On another note why didn.t they bring up Starrett last night, he has the best record in the system and we should know if he can play as a backup next year. I can see these fools going out and hiring another washed up backup next season..

      • Elasmus

        Do you even watch the games? Can you even back that claim up? Koskinen doesn’t go down anymore than any other goaltender. Quit making false and ill informed exaggerations to fit you’re narrative.

        • billsbills

          I watch as many games as I can. Earlier in the year Koskinen was up and down on his knees. If the puck went behind the net, he got up and stayed tight to the post to push across. Now, just like Talbot, he goes down and then stays down until he sees an Oiler in control of the puck. He doesn’t leave the top of his crease any more either, no challenging of the shooter. He’s trying to block the shot, not make the save.

    • Himynameistaylor

      He doesn’t need to straighten his back tho. He needs to telescope better. He’s a huge goalie, so he doesn’t need to be out of the blue paint like most goalies do. Watch his feet positioning next game. He plays too aggressive for his size.

  • Himynameistaylor

    I calllled it. New record for you lot. Took you a year and a half to spur on talbot, 2 years for dubnyk and blame them for the teams losses, but suddenly it’s taken 2 months for the fan base to spur on Koskinen when anyone with half a brain knew this was coming.

  • Himynameistaylor

    Just a friendly reminder in the games Talbot had relieved Koskinen, the team won every period he played and had they not started koskinen would likely have at least 4-5 more wins

        • hagar

          Also worth noting kosk usually plays excellent when the rest of the team plays well. His stinkers are usually when the rest of the team is in a funk.
          Talbot was classic at shutting down momentum with ridiculous first shot goals and his play well was independent of how the team played. Not sure what starts those are, but I am sure someone smarter than me can figure it out.
          Putting Talbot in during kosks crazy home ice stand after one soft game was an obvious hindrance in kosk at the time. Again, he is flawed, but I leave this season happy to have him.

  • Serious Gord

    1. I have it on pretty good authority that chia was advised by others in the org to sign Koskinen.

    2. Koskinen was hot garbage to be sure last night. But subban was worse and had been all season.

  • Ted

    Erik Gustaffsson (D) scores again for Chicago … A little reminder on how the Brain Trust for the Oilers can’t judge talent! … In 2012 the #93 pick was EG who never played one game for the Oilers who just let him get away … Erik Gustaffsson is eighth in the league in scoring by a defense man!!

  • slats-west

    Reuben writes “The book is out on Edmonton Oilers’goaltender Mikko Koskinen, and it reads like a furniture mover’s nightmare – everything goes upstairs.” Classic

    Will be borrowing that one!