After the debacle in the first two games against the Vancouver Canucks, should the Edmonton Oilers being to worry about their goaltending situation?
Heading into the 2023-24 NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers faced a dilemma with their current goaltending situation. On one hand, they have Jack Campbell, who they signed during the 2022 offseason to a five-year, $25 million contract, with the hope he would finally become their steady, long-term solution in net. On the other hand, they have 2022-23 Calder Trophy runner up Stuart Skinner, whose impressive rookie season helped propel the Oilers into the playoffs last season.
Looking at how each of them performed overall, Campbell would endure one of his worst seasons ever in his NHL career, as he struggled with inconsistency while fighting for the puck all year. Yet somehow, he still managed to win 21 times in 36 games played overall.
Counterpart Skinner would eventually take over the starting reigns from Campbell and finished with a stellar 29-win season, along with a 2.73 GAA and .914 save percentage. However, perhaps due to fatigue, along with some inexperience, Skinner began to wilt as the Oilers made it further into the playoffs. At the same time, Campbell managed to perform admirably, relieving Skinner three times during the series versus the Vegas Golden Knights and regaining some confidence in the process.
So who should be the de-facto number one goaltender for the team this season? Well, after the first two games, the question may no longer be who should be the starter, but instead, do the Oilers even have a starting goaltender they can trust at all?
In the season opener against the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers lost in a laugher 8-1. Both goaltenders would end up seeing game action, with Campbell given the start and Skinner coming on in relief, each surrendering four goals a piece.
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Then, with hopes that the Oilers could bounce back in their own home opener against the same Canucks team on Saturday night, they sure did their part offensively, driving play and putting on great pressure on the Canucks right until the end of the game. However, their goaltending would fail them once more, as Skinner again let in four goals for a second straight game and the Oilers lost 4-3.
So in total, the Oilers’ goaltending has let in 12 goals on just 48 shots in the two games, for a mediocre .750 save percentage. Obviously, things aren’t going to be like this for an entire season, but the goaltending has definitely gotten off to a horrible and worrisome start.
Both defence and goaltending have been the Oilers’ main weaknesses for the past few seasons, but their deficiencies were often masked by their prolific offence led by Connor McDavid and company. However, these deficiencies were greatly amplified during the first couple of games this season, as the Oilers couldn’t manage to score their way out of their problems.
As of this moment, the Oilers shouldn’t worry too much just yet. After all, it is only two games into the season, so what happened could just be an anomaly to their season in the end. However, because many of the Oilers’ faithful have seen the same story over and over again, it may be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks to ensure it doesn’t escalate into dangerous territory.
Nevertheless, this should serve as a wake-up call for the Oilers that they may need to deal with this issue sooner rather than later, before it ends up costing them the season. If such a case does arise, they may have no choice but be forced to look elsewhere to find a more reliable and stable solution in the long run.