2) Can Skinner continue his recent form?
Skinner has turned his season around of late, after a poor start to the 2023-24 campaign. Consider that he began this season with a 1-5-1 record in his first eight games (including seven starts), and at one point had the third-worst save percentage among all NHL goaltenders.
Since then however, as the team has got on track, so has the Edmonton native. In this respect he’s won seven of his nine previous starts, not that it’s all been smooth sailing.
Along these lines, Skinner had a spell during the nine-game run, where he reverted to his early season form. The three-game spell included his two aforementioned losses, as he allowed 12 goals and had a .829 save percentage.
This is important to note, only because it’s proof that the 25-year-old cannot — not that you would expect him to — rest on his laurels. Fair or not, questions will remain about his ability to be more stable and consistent between the pipes.
At least there is hope for Oilers fans that this is the direction Skinner is headed in. In his previous four starts — all wins — he has a 1.73 Goals Against Average and a .931 save percentage.
Everyone knows what the 2017 third round draft pick is capable of, as evidenced by finishing runner up for the Calder Trophy last season. Now, it’s a case of continuing his recent form, and proving he can be a long-term solution in goal.
Skinner spoke to the media on Monday following practice and was asked how much he had contributed to the recent defensive improvement. In typical fashion though he preferred to credit the team as a whole, as he said:
"“I think it’s everybody. Huge credit to the guys in front of me. I think I’ve said this probably a hundred times, but the (penalty kill) has just been really, really good, which is a huge, huge help for just being able to win games in general. So huge props to the forwards and the (defencemen) really being committed on our penalty kill, on our power play and just the game overall. It’s been very good.”"