It took all of one second after Mike Smith signing his contract last year for him to become an undying topic of controversy in Edmonton.
I wish I could say it was an exaggeration, but it was the farthest thing from him.
Many were elated the Oilers were signing the 38-year-old veteran goaltender who was ready to brush off his tough 2018-19 campaign in Calgary.
Others, however, were heavily critical of the goaltender who undoubtedly had seen better days.
While Smith came out hot to start the year posting a 4-3-1 record and a .919 save percentage in October, he quickly fell off the wagon. In November and December, his save percentage plummeted to .875 as his record fell to 3-6-1.
Of course, this was to be expected, yelled many from the rooftops. This was just a tough patch, others screamed.
The later of the cynics were right. Between January and the end of the season in March, he rebounded to a .911 save percentage with a stellar 12-3-4 record.
This is what Smith had been for a while in his career — a streaky netminder who was able to gain lots of trust from coaching staffs sometimes to the team’s detriment.
Nonetheless, I was surprised and quite pleased to see him rebound the way he did for the Oilers giving the team great minutes down the stretch.
As Edmonton prepares to take on Chicago, it’s still unknown who will be the Oilers No. 1 guy. With that, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see some kind of a split in time between Smith and Koskinen, unless one or the other gets hot.
And with a streaky goaltender like Smith, I hope he gets red hot for the Oilers. When he is hot he plays great, competitive hockey that helped the Oilers win games.
Looking back at his career he’s played in 24 playoff games posting an 11-12 record and a .938 save percentage. That is a huge increase from his career average .911 in the regular season.
Even in 2018-19 when he posted a .909 save percentage for the Flames, it rose by eight percent come the playoffs.
Let’s hope that Smith can find his game and give the Oilers the high-end minutes they desperately need.
On Twitter: @zjlaing