Skinner: Dream On
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
As the youngest of nine children growing up in Edmonton, Stuart Skinner used to dream about strapping on his goal pads as for the Edmonton Oilers and stopping enough pucks to beat the Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta.
Skinner went out last night in Calgary and did exactly that for the second time this season, making 46 saves on the way to a 2-1 win the Oilers absolutely needed. That performance came on the heels of a 3-2 win over the Flames Oct. 29 in which he made 40 saves. Factor in Skinner blanking the Flames on 31 shots in relief of Jack Campbell in a 4-3 loss on Oct. 15, and he’s stopped 117 of the 120 shots he’s faced against the team from Cowtown.
I can’t imagine Skinner envisioned being this good during those boyhood dreams – he’s been stopping pucks at a .975 clip against the Flames through three appearances – but here he is at 24 just 36 games into his NHL career giving the bad guys from down the road nightmares.
The transition makes for a helluva storyline, but truth be told now that the season series with the Flames is done, the Oilers have been far too loose in front of Skinner in games against Calgary. All told, they’re 12th in the league at 32.5 shots allowed per game. Against the Flames, they’re just a tick above 43 shots.
WHAT THEY SAY
“You grow up watching those games,” Skinner said. “Those are the most exciting games as a kid to watch. Being able to play in them is obviously a dream come true and I’m looking forward to playing them. Hopefully, a lot more.
“I thought we played a hell of a game. I thought both teams obviously came out strong, especially coming out of three days off with the Christmas break. I thought we kept on getting better every single period and it’s big that we got that one.”
With a three-year contract extension signed Dec. 19 and a first baby (a boy) on the way for Skinner and wife Chloe in the next couple of weeks, 2023 is shaping up as a memorable year for the former stopper with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“He seems to have their number,” said Connor McDavid, who extended his points streak to 16 games with the winning goal on a power play in the third period. “I’m not sure what that’s about, but this is a game lots of guys get up for and he certainly does too.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“We don’t win the game unless Stuart turns in the effort he did tonight,” coach Jay Woodcroft said during his post-game availability. “For a young man to have his level of focus coming out of the Christmas break, it’s impressive.”
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