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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

I’d Still Start Koskinen over Stalock

Last night Mikko Koskinen tied an NHL record that no goalie wants. He allowed four goals on the first four shots of the game. It wasn’t pretty, but oddly enough it wasn’t the first time it has happened.

It’s occurred twice before. And in all three instances the home goalie allowed four goals on four shots.

On March 27th, 1979 Dan Bouchard’s Atlanta Flames scored 25 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead. However Jacques Lemaire tied the game 15 seconds later for the Montreal Canadiens. Then Steve Shutt scored at 4:37, Mark Napier at 5:12 and Shutt again at 5:37. Bouchard was done. The Flames lost 6-4.

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A decade later, on November 24th, 1989, Don Beaupre’s Washington Capitals hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Rob Brown scored at 2:56. Then Mike Ridley tied it for the Capitals at 5:22. But then the Penguins scored three quick goals. Kevin Stevens at 8:49, Gilbert Delorme (9:28) and John Cullen at 12:49. Beaupre was done. The Capitals would lose 7-4.

Fast forward to May 6th, 2021, and Koskinen joined this exclusive club. Nils Hoglander scored 31 seconds in. Jack Rathbone potted his first NHL goal at 4:43, Travis Hamonic buried his first of the season at 6:33 and Jayce Hawryluk put one right through Koskinen at 12:22. Koskinen was done. Oilers would lose 6-3.

It was an inauspicious start for Koskinen, and to be fair the entire team wasn’t sharp. But he was the dullest of a butter knife group.

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“The first one was poor coverage. The second one was a poor turnover. And the third and fourth ones were poor… should have been saves from the goalie,” said Tippett. Jesse Puljujarvi and Dmitry Kulikov were the culprits Tippett was referring to on the first and second goals, but three and four went right over (third goal) and through (fourth) Koskinen.

He broke his stick in frustration after the fourth goal. It was a fitting end to a tough night for Koskinen. Koskinen has struggled stopping the first shot this season. But after that he has been very good for the past three months. In his previous 10 starts, dating back to February 9th, Koskinen had a .929sv%. He had settled in quite well as the backup, and that is why despite this unforgettable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons performance, I would still start him ahead of Alex Stalock.

Stalock hasn’t played a game since August. Do you start him in Montreal? What if he struggles, because he is rusty? Then you go into the playoffs with your backup being a guy who has played one game in nine months and the other who allowed four goals on four shots in his previous outing. That is not ideal.

I’d go back to Koskinen so he can erase last night. It was a dreadful. He was brutal. But it was one game.

RARE CLUB…

Koskinen is in such an exclusive group, because most goalies never get the opportunity to allow a fourth goal. Fifteen other goaltenders allowed three goals on three shots before being pulled. Koskinen wasn’t even the first Oilers goalie to do that. Tommy Salo did it in 1999.

Goalie TEAM Date SA GA TOI
Dan Bouchard ATF Mar-79 4 4 5:37
Mikko Koskinen EDM May-21 4 4 12:22
Don Beaupre WSH Nov-89 4 4 12:49
Alain Chevrier NJD Dec-86 3 3 1:21
Damian Rhodes ATL Jan-01 3 3 2:19
Gary Smith CGS Feb-71 3 3 3:56
Antti Niemi DAL Jan-17 3 3 4:01
Pete Lopresti MNS Dec-75 3 3 5:39
Dan Ellis NSH Oct-09 3 3 6:31
Braden Holtby WSH Oct-19 3 3 7:54
Arturs Irbe CAR Mar-99 3 3 8:10
Tommy Salo EDM Mar-99 3 3 8:14
Ron Hextall PHI Mar-95 3 3 8:26
Chris Terreri NJD Jan-94 3 3 8:39
Mike Palmateer TOR Feb-77 3 3 8:53
Ken Wregget PHI Jan-92 3 3 9:11
Don Edwards TOR Nov-85 3 3 9:17
P. Sidorkiewicz OTT Apr-93 3 3 9:59

Another 26 goalies have allowed two goals on the first two shots, and then got pulled before they could face a third or fourth shot. Names you know, like Pekka Rinne, Jacob Markstrom, Darcy Kuemper, Semyon Varlamov and others.

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Shitty games can happen. Koskinen had one. But it was only one bad game since Mike Smith returned and Koskinen became the backup. It is why he is a backup. He hasn’t shown the consistency needed to be a 50+ game starter. If Koskinen was making $2million it wouldn’t be as frustrating. His salary makes bad performances more difficult to accept.

I’d start him again soon. Put him back in so he can have some confidence heading into the playoffs. You don’t want last night’s game to be his last performance of the regular season.

What would you do for the backup role in the final four games?

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