While it was an excellent team win versus the Calgary Flames in the Heritage Classic, we look at three Edmonton Oilers players in particular who stood out.
Edmonton Oilers fans were understandably nervous heading into Sunday’s Battle of Alberta in the great outdoors. Their beloved team was on a four-game losing streak and had the second-worst record in the entire NHL.
However, it all turned out just right in the end, as the Oilers showed the Flames who the better team was on the way to an impressive 5-2 win in the Heritage Classic. In the process, they secured their first home victory of the season, albeit at Commonwealth Stadium rather than Rogers Place.
As a result, we get to name our top three Oilers studs for just the second time so far this season. Here is who stood out in particular, on what turned into a perfect Sunday evening for the fine folks of Edmonton:
1) Stuart Skinner
If you just want to base your opinion on pure statistics, then yes, Stuart Skinner has been below-par to this point in 2023-24. He has the worst save percentage thus far of his four years in the NHL, while his Goals Against Average is essentially a goal worse than either of his two previous seasons.
However, Skinner is a classic example of having to go deeper than just the numbers. Yes, he has had his issues at times this season, but the reality is he — along with Jack Campbell — has been left hung out to dry far to many times up to this point.
In any event, the 2022-23 Calder Memorial Trophy runner up entered Sunday evening in fine form. Save for the boneheaded decision to come out of his crease versus the Jets, he’d played well in his previous two games.
Now, you can make it three games in a row of Skinner performing to a good standard between the pipes. He saved 24 of the 26 shots he faced on the night, with both goals allowed coming when the Flames were on the power-play.
The 24-year-old could do nothing on the first goal in particular, with the Flames actually on a two-man advantage. And yet, it still took Nazem Kadri deflecting the puck from close range, to beat the Oilers goalie.
You can’t really blame Skinner for the Flames’ second goal either, with A.J. Greer beating three Oilers to a rebound and firing a wrist shot home. Regardless, as the visitors turned up the heat, he stood tall and did not allow any goals during the final 20 minutes.