Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
Criticism of Mike Smith by the Edmonton Oilers fan base after Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens was virtually unanimous, and rightfully so. The only significant variation on that theme was a matter of degree. From reasoned observations to full-blown rants, I saw three levels of dissatisfaction.
- Look at the numbers. Mike Smith simply isn’t good enough right now, and if the team keeps forcing him in down the stretch drive hoping he’ll regain his form, it’s a mistake. He’s had enough chances to take the crease. The team either needs to go with Stuart Skinner and Mikko Koskinen or GM Ken Holland needs to bring in a better option. Let Smith compete for a job next season.
- @Mike Smith is finished and he shouldn’t start another game with the Oilers. He’s not even an NHL goaltender right now and the team will waste another year of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl if Holland and Jay Woodcroft think he is. This situation could have and should have been addressed last off-season, but no. Instead, Smith gets a two-year deal? Same old, same old. Holland missed the boat.
- Mike Smith has the stomach flu? I’m the one who’s going to puke if Smith plays another game for this team. A lot of this is Dave Tippett’s fault. He loved Smith no matter what. We could have had Jacob Markstrom, but Kenny wouldn’t put up the cash . . . the biggest problem for the Oilers is Bob Nicholson and Holland. They are both, like, 100 years old. jUSt tHE lATeST EDiTiOn oF The oLD bOYs CluB.
Jan 5, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) makes a save during warm ups before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
The vast majority of you fall into the first two groups as the Oilers take on the Calgary Flames tonight in Cowtown. Between being injured, starting with the third game of the season, and trying to get into a rhythm with so many gaps in playing time, Smith has not been good enough. He’s given no indication he can be counted on down the stretch or in the playoffs, if the Oilers get that far. If you fall in the third group, you’re just having a tantrum – somewhat understandable given the failures of recent seasons.
At this point, a tandem of Koskinen and Skinner, recalled from Bakersfield today, looks like the best option as far as the rest of this season goes. Let’s see what they can do in the six games the Oilers play before the trade deadline on March 21 while Holland works the phones. If possible, Holland should have something lined up he can pull the trigger on if Koskinen and Skinner don’t look like they can get it done. Koskinen starts tonight.
For me, Smith isn’t part of the solution right now. I thought that Woodcroft put it as diplomatically has he could after the loss to Montreal: “Well, Mike Smith is part of our team and our team, I think, can execute at a higher level. I thought we were in a 3-2 hockey game heading into the third period. We had a chance to tie it up and find a way to win. We didn’t do that. Collectively, I think we can all be better.”
The Oilers are two points out of a playoff spot as they face the Flames, who are rolling along and could very well embarrass them tonight no matter who tends the twine. What happens from here on out has everything to do with trying to win games and nothing to do with handing Smith the goal crease in the hope he’ll find his game again. If that happens at all, it happens when the next training camp opens, not now.