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GDB 49.0: Oilers don’t need another goalie (7pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
I believe the Edmonton Oilers’ goalies have answered the question if Ken Holland should acquire a goaltender before the March 8th trade deadline, and that answer is: He doesn’t need to. Edmonton has had great goaltending for the past few months, and the more important question should be: How many starts do they plan on giving starter Stuart Skinner? Skinner will make his 36th start of the season tonight vs. the Detroit Red Wings.
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Edmonton only has so much cap space and so many assets to acquire players at the deadline, and right now looking for a second-line right winger, a fourth-line centre and a defenceman are higher priorities than a goalie. Edmonton has had very good goaltending for months.
Since the start of November, 72 goalies have made at least five starts. In 31 starts Skinner ranks ninth in GAA at 2.29 and he’s tied for 12th with Thatcher Demko in Sv% at .916.
Calvin Pickard had made nine starts and sits 14th in GAA at 2.42 and 18th in Sv% at .912.
Since December 1st, Skinner (19 starts) is fourth in Sv% at .932 and tied for second with Connor Hellebuyck in GAA at 1.85.
Pickard ranks ninth in Sv% at .917 and is also ninth in GAA at 2.29.
The only team with a better combined Sv% and GAA is Winnipeg.
I asked Kevin Woodley from InGoal Magazine and NHL.com about their adjusted numbers, which dig a bit deeper than just save percentage.
“Well first let’s start with Skinner, because I was surprised. We know he’s been really good since December 1st, and the environment has been goalie friendly. I just talked about it, same with LA. The Kings and the Oilers have two of the best defensive environments in the league. And Skinner has the exact same numbers as David Rittich, just a hair below in adjusted save percentage. The only goalies who have been better since December are Adin Hill and Jacob Markstrom (Hill has only played six games). I wanted to make sure I threw that out there because there’s a lot of talk like that Connor Hellebuyck should be the favorite for the Vezina, and I’m not disagreeing, but since December Skinner has actually outperformed him by a not insignificant margin. So, full credit there.
“In terms of Calvin Pickard, and what he has given them. He is 21st in the league, so +1.1% since December 1st, which I think gives him a little time to settle in after the call up. I’m not sure he was entirely comfortable early on, but he looks it now. There are nights like against Anaheim where he gave you exactly what you needed. Expected goaltending, basically league average goaltending and that was enough on that night. Overall, though, he’s above that. And some of the guys below him since December, are names likes Connor Ingram, one of the top potential trade targets for teams. Other names that are below him… How about Thatcher Demko at only +1% since December 1st?  We’re talking over two months of playing action there. Juuse Saros is below him, Sergei Bobrovsky and Jonathan Quick. There’s a lot of big names who haven’t performed as well as Pickard since the start of December.”
The Oilers also have Jack Campbell and Olivier Rodrigue in the minors. Campbell has a .922Sv% since November 15th and he’s at .926Sv% in his last 10 starts. They have enough depth goaltending.
The main question surrounding their goaltending should be the number of starts Skinner makes down the stretch, so he is fresh for the playoffs. Edmonton has 34 games remaining, including tonight, and if Skinner starts 22 games, he will finish the season with 57 starts — a very manageable number. Here is a look at the remaining games, and how the rotation could look with Skinner starting 22 games and Pickard starting 12.
**Red indicates back-to-back games.**
The March and April schedules are much more condensed, and Pickard will likely play 40% of the games. Maybe they give him another start this month and one less in March or April. This is just an outline, but due to seven sets of back-to-backs limiting Skinner to around 22 starts won’t be difficult. The regular season concludes on April 18th, and the playoffs are set to begin on the 20th, which is why I have them splitting the final eight games, as the Oilers have three sets of back-to-backs. With so little time between the end of the regular season and the playoffs, it is vital Skinner is fresh and making four starts in the final seven games over a span of 13 days makes sense for me. I’m sure Knoblauch and goalie coach, Dustin Schwartz, will discuss what Skinner wants, but they need to avoid him playing five of the final seven games.

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LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Perry
Holloway – McLeod – Foegele
Gagner – Ryan – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Kris Knoblauch couldn’t wait any longer. Sam Gagner is in, and Mattias Janmark (goalless in 27 games) comes out. As outlined in Game Notes, the Oilers’ lack of offence, from many players, is the main reason Gagner is in the lineup. All he’s done is produce points when he’s in. It is odd to write, but the Oilers’ main concern lately has been their inability to finish their chances.
When they faced the Red Wings last month in Detroit, they outshot them 47-18, but needed a Darnell Nurse overtime goal to win 3-2. Edmonton needs to have a good start tonight. They’ve trailed too often lately, and Detroit skates into Edmonton on a 10-2-2 roll. They are getting timely scoring, as they score well above their expected goals rate, and Alex Lyon has been stellar in goal.

Red Wings

DeBrincat – Larkin – Raymond
Perron – Compher – Kane
Rasmussen – Copp – Fischer
Kostin – Veleno – Sprong
Walman – Seider
Chairot – Petry
Maatta – Gostisbehere
Lyon
Alex Lyon will start for the 16th time in 17 games for the Red Wings. In 22 starts he has a .921Sv% and 2.54 GAA. James Reimer and Ville Husso have a combined .893Sv% and 3.40 GAA in 28 starts. Lyon plays behind the same team, but is making significantly more saves and giving the Wings a chance to win. Right now, the Wings have no choice but to ride Lyon. I’d argue they are much more in need of another goalie than the Oilers are.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win their eighth-consecutive game on home ice by a score of 4-2. They are one shy of tying the franchise record of nine home wins which was reached in 2017 and 2022.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid extends his home-game point-streak to 19 games as he picks up two points.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Corey Perry scores his first goal with the Oilers and moves into a tie with Owen Nolan for 88th most goals in NHL history with 422.

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