Stuart Skinner has come through for the Oilers when they’ve needed him

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner
Photo credit:Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
It may not seem like it, but Stuart Skinner has won the Edmonton Oilers some games this postseason.
It hasn’t been a great postseason for the 25-year-old netminder, at least on paper. The third-round pick in the 2017 draft has an .897 save percentage and a 2.47 goals-against average in 17 games and even had to be replaced for two games by backup netminder Calvin Pickard.
However, aside from a stretch of three games during the Vancouver series, Skinner has been quite good. Let’s take a look at his performance, series by series.

Three straight series wins against the Los Angeles Kings

The first two games of the postseason weren’t great for Skinner, at least on paper.
In Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings, he was rather hard-done-by, as an unlucky deflection and a broken stick cost him two goals, moving his save percentage down to .892 in what was a good performance for the netminder.
There’s no sugarcoating it, Game 2 was by far his worst in this series, allowing five goals on 26 shots for an .808 save percentage. However, Skinner rebounded in Game 3 by allowing a single goal on 28 shots, before posting his first career postseason shutout in Game 4, saving 33 shots in one of just three games this postseason where the Oilers were outplayed.
Game 5 was the clinching game, and Skinner had 18 saves on 21 shots for an .857 save percentage, but it was enough to get the job done. As a whole, Skinner had a .910 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average.

Three bad games against the Vancouver Canucks

This season, Stuart Skinner has gotten a bad reputation and it’s strictly because of the first three games of the Vancouver Canucks series.
Game 1 was a disaster. The Oilers had a 4-1 lead before blowing it and losing by a score of 5-4. Not all these goals were his fault, but at some point, a big save has to be made, and allowing five goals on 24 shots for a .792 save percentage isn’t great.
The second game was better in the same way that getting hit by a car is better than getting hit by a bus, it’s still going to hurt. In the Oilers’ overtime win, Skinner allowed three goals on 19 shots for an .842 save percentage. Not great, but better!
Game 3 was once again awful, as he allowed four goals on 15 shots, for a .733 save percentage, the worst of this postseason and his second-worst start in his postseason career. In fact, he was pulled for Calvin Pickard for the third period and briefly played the rest of the game.
The Oilers then did the unconventional, starting Calvin Pickard for a must-win Game 4, with the backup netminder saving 19 of 21 shots for a .905 save percentage. Pickard also started Game 5 of the series, saving 32 of the 35 shots he faced, but allowed a late goal to push the Oilers to the brink of elimination.
Back home for Game 6, Skinner started this game and saved 14 of 15 shots in what was an Edmonton blowout, staving off elimination in a 5-1 victory. It all came down to Game 7 in Vancouver, where every Canuck fan was chanting “Skinner” at the top of their lungs.
And Skinner performed great for Canada’s team, holding a shutout for the better part of 50 minutes as the Oilers looked like they would cruise to a 3-0 win, before a Ryan McLeod whiff led to an unstoppable goal. Skinner was beaten by Filip Hronek’s shot from the point to make this game incredibly uncomfortable, but a win is a win, and Edmonton won 3-2. Strong performance from Skinner, even if his .882 save percentage doesn’t reflect it.
Make no mistake, this was not a good series for Skinner. Overall, he had an .833 save percentage and a 3.18 goals-against average and if not for Pickard, I’d be writing about who the Oilers would pick with the 62nd overall pick.
However, the final two performances led Skinner to what was the best series of his career.

Redemption facing the Dallas Stars

Back in 2022, Mike Smith was the starting netminder for the Oilers’ longest postseason run since 2006. Sadly, after a terrific starting series in which he posted a .938 save percentage against the Kings, his play tapered off in the final two rounds, posting an .890 save percentage. This included an .872 save percentage in the Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche, a series in which the Oilers were swept.
It was the complete opposite for Skinner in the 2024 Western Conference Finals. The series’ first game saw him save 31 shots on 33 attempts for a .939 save percentage in a double-overtime win. The Oilers lost Game 2, but it wasn’t because of Skinner, as he had a .917 save percentage, saving 22 of 24 shots.
Game 3 was Skinner’s worst game and coincidentally Edmonton’s final loss in this series, as he allowed four goals on 21 shots. There was only one goal though where you could pin on Skinner, Jason Robertson’s game-winning goal.
The Oilers faced another 2-1 hole at home, and once again, they won the most important game of their season, defeating the Stars 5-2. However, it’s not that cut and dry, as Skinner allowed two early goals to put the team in a 2-0 hole. The first goal was on a somewhat of a 2-on-1 which Skinner probably should’ve stopped, while the second goal bounced off Darnell Nurse.
However, the Oilers turned that game around, scoring five unanswered with Skinner saving 20 of 22 shots for a .909 save percentage. The Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 5, and aside from a late Wyatt Johnston deflection goal, Skinner saved 19 of 20 shots for a .950 save percentage.
Although he had a 33-save shutout early this postseason, I’d argue that his best-ever playoff start was in the series-clinching Game 6 against the Stars. You know the story, the Oilers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and stopped playing in the second and third periods. The Oilers had 10 shots, while the Dallas Stars had 34. Skinner allowed just one goal late in the game.
It was one of the most lopsided games in postseason history in terms of shots, and it was the largest shot differential in a clinching game. Yet, Stuart Skinner essentially carried them to a Stanley Cup birth.
The Dallas series was by far Skinner’s best postseason series in his career. He saved 142 of 154 shots for a .922 save percentage and a 1.91 goals-against average. Without Skinner in games five and six, who knows if the Oilers would be playing hockey right now?

And now the Florida Panthers

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals has come and gone, the Oilers were goalie’d, as Sergei Bobrovsky saved all 32 shots he faced, with like half of those being high-danger shots. It was another rough game on paper for Skinner, allowing two goals on 17 shots.
However, neither of those goals was his fault. The first goal was on a 2-on-1 right beside him, while the second goal was an open slot shot with no coverage on the shooter. You need your goalie to make big saves, which he did, but you also can’t win by scoring no goals.
It’s 5:25 AM ET as I write this. It’s game day. I have no idea what will happen in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup series and beyond. I do know two things though. When Stuart Skinner faces adversity, that’s when he performs at his best, and if not for Skinner, the Oilers wouldn’t be playing for their first Stanley Cup in 34 years, warts and all.

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