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Oilers’ Skinner has been stellar when it matters most

Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
Stuart Skinner has played the third-fewest NHL games among Edmonton Oilers players, yet his teammates rave about his maturity, his mindset and his outlook on life and sports. He’s played 123 regular season games — only Philip Broberg (81) and Dylan Holloway (89) have played fewer.
Skinner believes heavily in a strong, positive mindset. He doesn’t shy away when things go wrong. Instead, he talks openly about it, presenting an opportunity to learn and grow. It isn’t just words. It is his mindset, and he believes that every situation, whether it is good or bad, will make him a better person and NHL goaltender.
He’s shown it time and time again this season.
On December 12th, after the Oilers lost 7-4 to Tampa Bay despite outshooting Tampa Bay 57-24, Skinner said this about his performance.
“I don’t think anybody in this room should be upset except for me, to be honest. I think I ended up kind of losing us the game, and that’s something that I’ll take on and I’ll be better for it. I think these guys in here should all be very happy with how they played. They were fantastic.”
He didn’t deflect. He didn’t shy away. He owned his performance and said he’d learn from it and improve.
But improvement and learning aren’t instant, especially for an NHL goalie. The only way you gain experience is by playing, and as you play more, you will have good and bad games. Just like in life, the road to betterment is never smooth, and Skinner is on the very early path of his NHL career.
He learned a lot about himself last season in the NHL playoffs. He had some great games, and a few rough ones. He was pulled in three of the final four games v. Vegas. He didn’t pout. He didn’t let it break him, instead he felt it showed him where he needed to improve.
Fast forward to the 2024 playoffs. After a 5-4 OT loss to LA in Game 2, many critics and fans questioned Skinner’s abilities. They felt the Oilers couldn’t win with him.

BOUNCE BACK…

Against the Kings, Skinner allowed one goal on 28 shots in Game 3, and then stole Game 4 with a 33-save shutout in a 1-0 victory where the Oilers only had 13 shots on goal.
The second-round v. Vancouver did not start well for Skinner.
He allowed five goals on 24 shots in Game 1, allowed three goals on 19 shots in Game 2 and gave up four goals on 15 shots in Game 3, in which he was pulled after 40 minutes. He was questioned again, and his critics cited his career Sv% in the playoffs. The worst in the salary cap era.
His stat line had a record of 1-2 with a .793Sv% and 4.40 GAA. He didn’t start the next two games as head coach Kris Knoblauch gave Calvin Pickard both starts, but then Knoblauch went back to Skinner for Game 6 with the Oilers trailing the series 3-2 and needing two wins to move on. But he wasn’t fazed.
Skinner said this after watching two games from the bench.
“It was tough just because you want to be in there,” said Skinner. “But at the same time, I was just ecstatic for Calvin. He played incredible; the guys played really well. 
“Any type of situation like that, it’s difficult. I’ve been working on my mental game for a long time here. It’s just another experience where I got to work on some more stuff mentally. So being able to kind of throw that frustration down and just be the best teammate that I could possibly be, I had a lot of fun and was able to get my work in. Really good for me.”
No moping. No woe-is-me. No excuses. Once again, he looked at it as a chance to grow.
He allowed one goal in Game 6 and two goals in Game 7 and the Oilers moved on to the Western Conference Final.
Before the series began, many said Dallas had a clear advantage in goal with Jake Oettinger. He was more experienced and had been more consistent.
Skinner went 4-2 with a .922Sv% and 1.91 GAA to help the Oilers win in six games. Skinner had five games allowing two goals or fewer.

CUP FINAL…

Jun 15, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) makes a save against Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) during the first period in game four of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place.
Now Skinner has found himself living out his childhood dream: playing in his hometown for the team he grew up loving with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
It didn’t start well for the Oilers. They lost the first three games. Skinner, who had played solidly, but not spectacular, mishandled the puck behind the net in Game 3 that led directly to the Panthers’ second goal. They went on to win 4-3.
Right after the game, Skinner spoke about the second goal.
I’ll have to go watch it to see exactly what happened, but I tried to play the puck, and I don’t know if it bounced over me — not too sure exactly what happened, but they got the puck, passed it out front, I tried to get that one as well, then tried to make the save, and all three of those things did not work.”
But it was his response to a question about how disappointing it is to stand here being down 3-0 in the series that garnered a lot of attention, much of it negative or questioning him. But it was just another example of how he chooses to view situations that face him.
“That is an interesting question. I’m extremely grateful to be here and answering these questions. We are playing in June and that is something to be very grateful for. Of course it is disappointing being down 3-0, we have to let that reality sink in, and I’m not too sure what the stats are on coming back, but if anyone can do it, it is the Oil.”
That was June 13th. Fast forward six days, and the Edmonton Oilers are flying back to Edmonton still alive in the series and trailing 3-2. Skinner and his teammates are half-way home to scripting the greatest comeback in modern North American sports history.
Skinner’s belief in himself and his team never wavered. He has been counted out by many throughout this season, and as recently as Game 3.
But Skinner is now 6-0 in Games 5-7 of the 2024 NHL playoffs. He has a .928Sv% and 1.67 GAA in those six games. He was the main reason the Oilers scored first last night. He made two huge saves in the first three minutes of the game, before Connor Brown scored shorthanded.
The Panthers outshot the Oilers 32-24 and had the advantage in high-danger chances, 10-7, as well, but Skinner stood tall and made many key saves.
Skinner is still relatively inexperienced in total games played (123 regular season, and 33 playoff games), but he’s played the third-most playoff games among goalies over the past two seasons. He’s in the Stanley Cup Final, and he’s shown growth from last season. As the series goes along and the pressure mounts, he gets better.
He’s shown that regardless of what happens in Game 6 and/or Game 7, he will cherish those moments and opportunities and use them as a chance to learn and grow.
He continues to show he is more mature than his games played suggests.

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