It’s time to lay off of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Woz6 months ago
The blame game comes out anytime a team falls in a disappointing post-season.
In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, fingers pointed in the direction of anyone not named Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Fans love a scapegoat, someone to look at and say “you’re the reason we lost” or “if we had *insert position* we would’ve won the series.”
Right now there’s been a few individuals being singled out as to why the Oilers didn’t advance to the Western Conference Final one of them being Stuart Skinner — because it’s not a playoff exit without blaming the goalie in Edmonton. Let’s chat about Stuart.
As I cruise the comment sections of the Oilersnation socials. Whether it be Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or whatever platform. I’ve noticed many say “Skinner sucks” or “the Oilers need a goalie”. I just can’t help but shake my head because just two months ago this fan base was praising Skinner.
For once Oilers fans had confidence in their goalie and then the Stanley Cup Playoffs happened. I’ll agree that Skinner did not have a great post-season, that’s evident. But he doesn’t “suck.” While he is a rookie, he is still an NHL player and subject to criticism, to completely disregard what he did in his first full season is ridiculous. Yes, we all had high expectations for Skinner when the post-season arrived but his poor performances don’t mean the future is lost and he can’t rebound or learn from his mistakes.
It’s like some view his play over the past month and think that’s the Skinner we’ll get for as long as he’s an NHL goalie. The playoffs, if anything, were a fantastic learning lesson for Skinner — a stepping stone to becoming a much better NHL goalie. After all, he was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. If it wasn’t for his steady play in the regular season it’s tough to imagine where the Oilers would’ve finished. Would they have even made the playoffs?
One player I’d like to compare Skinner to is a young Marc Andre-Fleury. Fleury in his second season played 50 games and started 45. Just like Skinner except he started 48 for Edmonton. However, Fleury’s numbers were nothing special compared to Skinner’s. Putting up 3.25 goals against average and a .898 save percentage whereas Skinner had a 2.75 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Now the difference is Fleury was on one of the worst teams at the time and Skinner is on one of the best.
But that poor first full season from Fleury didn’t set the tone for the rest of his career and would go on to win his first Stanley Cup three years later. Even in his first playoffs in his third year in the league, he put up a 3.77 goals-against average. and a .880 save percentage. Now once again this is all dependent on the team in front of him and the same could be said about Skinner’s first playoff run.
The Oilers were not great in front of him in many departments and ultimately got eliminated because they weren’t good enough as a team. But they weren’t knocked out solely because of Skinner’s play. Yes, he needed to be much better just like Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, and the list goes on. Many players underperformed and as a result, is the reason I’m sitting here writing this article.
However, the Edmonton Oilers don’t need a goalie because they already have two. One goalie who’s only been improving each year is Skinner and another goalie who historically has had better numbers in his second season with each team he’s been on is Jack Campbell. Skinner is only 24 and has a bright future ahead of him. There’s no doubt he’ll take this experience, learn and become stronger at his craft.
So let’s stop with this talk that the Oilers don’t have good enough goaltenders, that Skinner “sucks” and is all of a sudden a bad goalie. We can’t be prisoners of the moment especially when a player doesn’t meet our expectations. The crease in Edmonton is in safe hands, and it will only get better. With such a positive, mature mindset, I’m sure Skinner can only improve from here. It was a first for everything for him as he mentioned when reflecting on the post-season.
“I’ve never experienced overtime losses in the NHL, overtime wins in the NHL playoffs,” he said at the end of the season. “Being able to battle back down 2-1, 3-2. Having all those experiences has given me a great chance to learn a lot about myself and learn a lot going into next season as well cause I know what to expect.”
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see more out of Stuart Skinner next season because the sky’s the limit with him.
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