Oilers Notebook: Stuart Skinner’s workload, Jack Campbell’s play in the AHL, and more

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
5 months ago
Stuart Skinner turned aside 25 of 27 shots in Tuesday’s win by the Oilers over the Toronto Maple Leafs, putting the sophomore at 19-9-1 with a .903 save percentage on the season.
Thursday’s game against the Seattle Kraken will be Edmonton’s 41st of the season, the exact middle point of their schedule. Skinner has played in 30 games thus far, 29 starts and one relief appearance, and he’s on pace to appear in about 60 by the time the regular season is finished.
The expectation was that Skinner would split the net with Jack Campbell and both goaltenders would start around 40 games. But after allowing 20 goals across his first five starts, Campbell was demoted to the American Hockey League. Since then, it’s been a starter-backup situation with third-string goalie Calvin Pickard filling in for Skinner when he needs a rest.
The Oilers are 21-6-0 since Kris Knoblauch took over as the team’s head coach and Skinner has started in 21 of those 27 games. They’ll host the Kraken on Thursday, they’ll play the Flames in Calgary on Saturday, and then they have home games next week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday against the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, and Predators. After the All-Star break, the Oilers will play 37 times over the course of 72 days to finish off the season with more back-to-backs than they had in the first few months.
Whether the Oilers acquire another goaltender or they ultimately decide to let Pickard play more, they won’t be able to lean on Skinner this hard down the stretch otherwise he’ll be gassed by the time the playoffs roll around. The team has planned to lean heavily on Skinner during what they view as a soft stretch in January and something will change come March and April.
“Absolutely, we’re managing his workload,” head coach Kris Knoblauch said following the team’s win over Toronto on Tuesday. “You look at our schedule through the month of January, it’s pretty light. We never play back-to-back games, three games a week. When we hit March and April, it changes quite a bit, but we kind of have a plan. Our coaching staff comes together and talks about what we think is best for us moving forward.
Usually, we look two or three weeks ahead. Some things are set, ‘that’s definitley going to be Stuart’s game, this one’s maybe 50/50.’ We think about practice time, back-to-backs, the opposition how well the goalies are playing right now, does he look like he needs a break, all those kinds of things. Right now, the plan was for him to have a significant amount of games in January.”
Meanwhile, down in Bakersfield, Jack Campbell has strung together a couple of strong starts for the Condors since moving into the backup role behind top goaltending prospect Olivier Rodrigue. Campbell turned aside 31 of 33 shots in a win over San Jose on December 30, and he stopped 24 of 26 shots in another win over the Barracuda on January 13.
Rodrigue came into a game in relief of Campbell back on December 16 and has started eight of the team’s ten games since. He has a .926 save percentage on the season across 14 appearances, which ranks in a tie for third among AHL goalies this season with Yaroslav Askarov, who’s widely considered the best goalie prospect in hockey.
Most recently, Rodrigue stopped 23 of 25 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Eagles on Tuesday. Campbell will start the second leg of the back-to-back with Colorado on Wednesday.

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