3) Consistent goaltending
The Edmonton Oilers’ season has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, with the past four games epitomizing the highs and lows that define the team’s early campaign. The games against the Panthers and Hurricanes saw the Oilers on the wrong side of lopsided defeats, sparking more discussions about defensive lapses. This inevitably turned to the goaltender when assessing the team’s fortunes, as the last line of defence often holds the key to success.
In the two aforementioned games, the Oilers faced adversity as they were routed by their opponents. Defensive lapses were evident, leaving fans and analysts dissecting plays and pointing fingers. While it’s easy to place blame solely on defensive breakdowns, the reality is that the goaltender plays a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of a game. A timely save can be the difference between a narrow loss and a devastating defeat.
In hockey, goaltenders are often referred to as the last line of defence, and for good reason. Regardless of a team’s offensive prowess or defensive structure, the goaltender is the ultimate barrier to opposing goals. If the goaltender fails to make crucial saves, it can create a ripple effect, sapping momentum and demoralising the team.
Amidst the struggles, there emerged a glimmer of hope in the form of Stuart Skinner. The young netminder showcased resilience and determination in the last two games, bouncing back with impressive performances. Skinner recorded his first shutout of the season in a commanding 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals. He followed up that stellar display with an impressive performance in the 8-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks.
Skinner’s ability to rebound and deliver a shutout performance, speaks volumes about his mental toughness and potential as a goaltender. If he can maintain this level of consistency, it could be a game-changer for the Oilers, providing the stability they need between the pipes.