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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Monday Musings: More Time for Mikko?

Through 32 games Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen have each made 16 starts. That is a big enough sample size (39% of the season) to see there is a discrepancy in the numbers between Smith and Koskinen.

Koskinen is 11-3-2 with a .921Sv% and a 2.53 GAA in 1,020 minutes. Koskinen has allowed 43 goals on 541 shots. Smith is 7-7-2 with a .903Sv% and a 2.88 GAA in 916 minutes. Smith has allowed 44 goals on 455 shots.

Koskinen has been better through the first two months of the season and with 50 games remaining there is a case for Dave Tippett to start the big Finn more frequently. There is no need to fatigue Koskinen like the Oilers did down the stretch last season, when he started 26 of the final 32 games, but with 50 games remaining I don’t think it would be unrealistic, as long as he keeps playing well, for him to start 32 or 33 of the final 50 games.

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The Oilers have six sets of back-to-backs remaining: December 20th/21st, January 31st/February 1st, February 15th/16th, February 25th/26th, March 2nd/3rd and March 15th/16th.

That leaves 38 games. Could Koskinen start 26 of those and leave 12 for Smith?

Here is a possible schedule:

December: Ten games remain

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Koskinen starts tomorrow and then Thursday in Minnesota. A one day road trip is a lot of travel for one game, so I’d rest Koskinen after.

Smith starts Saturday at home against Toronto.

Koskinen starts in Dallas (Dec 16th) and St. Louis (18th), Smith starts against Pittsburgh on the 20th.

Koskinen plays the 21st against Montreal, and 23rd against Vancouver then the Oilers have a three-day Christmas break.

Smith starts against his former team, the Flames, on the 27th and Koskinen starts the 31st against the Rangers.

Koskinen starts seven and Smith starts three.

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January: Nine games

Smith starts in Buffalo on January 2nd.

Koskinen starts in Boston, Toronto and Montreal on the 4th, 6th and 9th.

Smith starts against his the Flames on the 11th.

Koskinen at home against Nashville on the 14th and Smith plays Arizona on the 18th.

The Oilers have a 10-day break, with their bye week and the All-star game, between the 19th and 28th.

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Coming out of the break Koskinen starts on the 29th at home vs the Flames and the 31st against the Blues.

Koskinen starts six of nine games in January.

February: 14 games

Smith starts the 1st in Calgary.

Koskinen goes the 4th in Arizona and at home on the 6th and 8th against San Jose and Nashville.

Smith gets the home start on the 11th against the Blackhawks.

Koskinen starts on the road in Tampa and Florida on 13th and 15th.

Smith starts in Carolina on the 16th.

Koskinen at home on the 19th and 21st against the Bruins and Wild.

Smith starts in LA on the 23rd and Anaheim on the 25th.

Koskinen goes in Vegas on the 26th and home to the Jets on the 29th.

Koskinen starts nine games and Smith five in February.

March: Busy month with 16 games.

Smith starts February 2nd in Nashville.

Koskinen goes the 3rd in Dallas and the 5th in Chicago.

Smith starts at home on the 7th against Columbus.

Koskinen gets the 9th and 11th home starts against Vegas and. Winnipeg

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Smith start against the Islanders on the 13th and the 15th in Philly.

Koskinen starts the 16th in Washington, 18th in Ottawa and home to Tampa on the 20th.

Smith starts at home to Anaheim on the 23rd.

Koskinen starts at home on the 25th and 27th against the Avalanche and Sharks.

Smith starts the 29th at home against the Ducks.

Koskinen goes the 31st at home to Vegas

Koskinen starts 10 games and Smith six.

April: One game

I start Koskinen in Calgary on the 4th.

This is just an outline. Obviously things can change due to injury or poor play, but right now if I’m Tippett I’d strongly considering giving Koskinen more starts. He has played better and while the Oilers are still in first place in the Pacific Division, I think Koskinen has earned more starts moving forward. He put in the work this off-season to be in better shape. He hired Marko Yrjovouri, a Finnish born trainer, most known for training former NBA star Kobe Bryant.

When I spoke to Koskinen about it earlier this season he said he’s much stronger than last year. “We focused a lot on core strength. If I have to play more games this year I’m confident I can. It was tough last year, especially at the end when I felt I was not in balance anymore,” he said. Two months later his play matches what he said in early October.

Koskinen looks quicker, and he is set-square much more often to the shooter. His numbers reflect what we see and now is the time to reward him with more starts.

PACIFIC DIVISION BATTLE…

Nov 27, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) during a stoppage of play in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Losses to the Senators and Sabres, in OT, were not good, but the Oilers are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and none of the other Pacific teams, who are battling for a playoff spot, have made up more than one point in that span.

Edmonton has 40 points in 32 games.

Arizona has 40 (32GP) and they are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.

Vegas has 35 points (32 GP) and are 5-3-2 in past 10 games.

Vancouver 34 points (30 GP) and are 5-4-1 in their last 10.

Calgary 34 points (31GP) and went 5-4-1 in their past 10.

San Jose 32 points (32GP) and they too went 5-4-1 in their previous 10 games.

I’ve stated for a few weeks I don’t see any dominant team in the Pacific. Edmonton’s good start put them on the top of the standings and all the teams have hovered around a 11-point-in-10-game pace ever since. Eventually, one or two of those other Pacific foes will get hot for a 10-game stretch, and the Oilers need to get points while they can.

Division Games…

Edmonton is 8-3-1 against Pacific teams, which is a big reason they are in first in their division.

Vegas is 7-3-1, San Jose is 7-5-0, Arizona is 6-2-3, Vancouver is 4-3-1 and Calgary is 4-5-1. If Edmonton continues to dominate within the division their playoff chances will improve, but their next seven games are against teams from the other three divisions.

The Oilers face Carolina tomorrow. The Canes are the only team from the Metropolitan division they’ve yet to play. The Oilers are a remarkable 8-0 against the Metro this season, and have Carolina and Pittsburgh at home over the next two weeks.

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However, they have struggled against the Atlantic and the Central. Edmonton is 1-3-1 v. the Atlantic and an ugly 1-4-2 against the Central.

They host Toronto and Montreal from the Atlantic, while they have road games against three Central teams in Minnesota, St. Louis and Dallas.

In a tight race every game matters, and with the Oilers unable to find some consistency in the win column lately, I think it is more imperative that Tippett give Koskinen an opportunity to solidify himself as the starter before Christmas.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thanks to Kevin and Jared for their fantastic bid on the dinner for 12 at Chop Steakhouse. Thank you.

Day 6: One Year Membership from the Farmers Business Network (FBN). Farmers Business Network is a membership based company working with over 9000 farms in North America and over 1200 farms in Canada. FBN is on a mission to create a future of farming that puts Farmers First by providing unbiased analytics, independent grain marketing advice, and creating competition for farmers’ business. To learn more about FBN visit www.fbn.com.

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As an added bonus to support the Month of Giving, FBN will be taking the successful bidder to the Edmonton Oilers vs Columbus Blue Jackets game on March 7th, 2020. Before the game you will dine at Atlas Steak + Fish and possibly try your luck with some blackjack.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. All proceeds will help out The Christmas Bureau.

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