Stuart Skinner, Calvin Pickard combine for rock-solid weekend after Oilers GM expresses faith in team’s goaltending

Photo credit:© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers are on a four-game winning streak after completing a sweep of their back-to-back on the weekend.
On Saturday, the Oilers went into Seattle and edged out a 2-1 victory over the Kraken. On Sunday, they came home and hammered the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 6-1.
Through these last four wins, the Oilers have allowed only six goals, a significant improvement from when they were in a lull coming out of the All-Star break. In Edmonton’s first 10 games in February, they allowed 36 goals combined and never held an opponent to fewer than three goals in a single game.
Before the weekend, general manager Ken Holland told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic that the Oilers “feel really good” about their goaltending and that he hasn’t explored the trade market for a goaltender at all.
“No. I’m not exploring the market [for a goaltender] at all.
I’ve got a guy that was a Calder Trophy finalist with 29 wins and he’s 24 years of age. [Calvin Pickard] has come up and he’s done a real good job. He’s got a save percentage of .905 in his role as a backup. Jack Campbell’s played about as good a hockey as he’s [ever] played. He’s over a .920 save percentage [in the AHL] since the beginning of December. He seems to be settled in and playing great. Ollie Rodrigue continues to perform and produce at a high level.
We feel really good about our goaltending.”
The team’s goaltending duo did a good job of validating their general manager’s comments over the weekend. Stuart Skinner stopped 24 of 25 shots in the win over Seattle while Calvin Pickard turned aside 22 of the 23 shots that Pittsburgh threw his way. The team played well defensively in front of them but both Skinner and Pickard were rock-solid in their own right.
For Skinner, he now has three consecutive wins and a combined .949 save percentage since being lit up by the Calgary Flames last weekend. For Pickard, it was a nice bounce-back after having his personal six-game winning streak snapped in a loss to the Minnesota Wild the previous night.
With the trade deadline just a few days away, it’s clear that the Oilers will continue to roll with the goaltending tandem that’s posted a 35-12-1 record since early November. The question now isn’t about who the Oilers could add to play with Skinner, it’s about how the team can most effectively split time between him and Pickard.
Last year, the Oilers kept Jack Campbell on the NHL roster throughout the entire season despite his .888 save percentage. After the trade deadline, the team went on an 18-2-1 run and rocketed up the standings. Skinner played in 16 of those games while Campbell started only five of them.
In the playoffs, Skinner wasn’t the same goaltender he was down the stretch. He posted an .883 save percentage over 12 games and allowed eight goals on 39 shots in Edmonton’s Game 5 and 6 losses to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round. It’s reasonable for a rookie to struggle in his first playoff run, but it’s also fair to assume fatigue played a role here as well.
This year, the Oilers sent Campbell down to the American Hockey League after five starts and brought up Pickard in his place. The 31-year-old third-stringer has posted a .909 save percentage since being recalled in November and the team has gone 8-3-0 in his 11 starts.
In order to avoid burning Skinner out, the Oilers are going to have to give Pickard more starts down the stretch. Skinner has started in 37 of Edmonton’s 48 games since Pickard replaced Campbell and he’s on pace to play in 60 games in a season for the first time since 2016-17 when he was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League.
Following Sunday’s win over the Penguins, head coach Kris Knoblauch said that the Oilers have looked ahead at the rest of the regular season schedule and have mapped out a plan for how they how much they want Skinner to play.
“We look at it, we review his starts and look out a month ahead,” Knoblauch said. “After the All-Star break, we sat down and had that number. We have settled and think it’s best he plays that many, and with the way our schedule is, he’s probably be playing two out of three games, and whatever that ends up being. It’s probably 57 to 60 games.”
The Oilers a pretty busy schedule in March and April but only 10 of the 23 games they play are against serious playoff contenders. Skinner can start all of the team’s remaining games against the Bruins, Avalanche, Maple Leafs, Jets, Kings, Stars, Golden Knights, and Canucks and still have plenty of time to rest.

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