Tough Chapter for Skinner
Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
Nobody needs to tell Stuart Skinner that he didn’t play as well as he hoped and expected he would for the Edmonton Oilers during a post-season that ended with a 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place Sunday.
After a regular season in which the 24-year-old stopper from Edmonton took the starting job from Jack Campbell and put up good enough numbers — 29-14-5 with a 2.75 GAA and .914 save percentage in 50 games — to earn a nod as a Calder Trophy finalist, Skinner wasn’t as sharp as the Oilers needed him to be against Las Vegas. There was even a wobble or two in a 4-2 series win over the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.
All told, Skinner was pulled four times in the course of a dozen games by coach Jay Woodcroft and his playoff numbers — he was 5-6-0 with a 3.68 GAA and .883 in 12 games — weren’t even close to his regular season stats. Campbell was far more effective in the playoffs, albeit in very limited mop-up minutes. I didn’t see that coming and neither did many of you.
With the team out of the playoff mix a round or two earlier than most of this team’s fanbase expected, Campbell has four more years and $20 million remaining on his contract and Skinner is looking to put a very good rookie season that ended badly in the rear-view mirror.
It’s no surprise that fans want to know what that’s going to look like moving forward. Teams with goaltending in the .800s don’t win the Stanley Cup.
WHAT HE SAID
May 8, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Vegas Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel (9) scores a goal during the second period against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) in game three of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“This is obviously part of the book that one day we’re all going to write,” Skinner said. “This is a chapter where it stings and it sucks and it’s painful. Sure, it’s (the) first year for myself, but it’s a year we had a very special group and I had the chance to help this team do that. It’s part of the road. It’s hard to really think about it right now, but it’s part of my story.”
So, what now? When training camp opened, Campbell had the crease and his new contract. Skinner was coming in as backup after 13 appearances in 2021-22 and another in 2020-21. Nobody, including GM Ken Holland and Woodcroft, saw Skinner taking over as starter.
On the flip side, I never thought we’d see Skinner, who inked a three-year contract extension worth $7.8 million in December, struggle to the degree he did in playoffs. Campbell and Skinner both need to bounce back next season.
“I think the team’s gone through it enough times now,” Skinner said. “I would like to think that way anyway. You’ve got to learn how to lose, obviously. You’ve got to learn how to win as well. I think we know how to do both.
“I think, you know, just being able to gather ourselves here in the summer and get to work and know what we’re coming back here to do, and that’s to win the Cup.”
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