Stuart Skinner showing worrying flashback to last year's playoffs

Stuart Skinner is not off to a great start in the series versus the Kings, bringing back memories of his performances for the Oilers in last season's playoffs.
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

Last season was a breakout campaign for Stuart Skinner, as he rose to prominence to become the Edmonton Oilers' number on goalie which Jack Campbell had been signed to take the mantle as. He started 48 games and compiled a 29-14-5 record, producing a .913 save percentage and 2.75 Goals Against Average (GAA) in the process.

However, once the 2022-23 playoffs began it was a different story for Skinner, who looked nothing like the regular season version of himself. He went 5-6 in 12 starts, had a .883 save percentage to go along with a 3.68 GAA, and was even replaced by Campbell on four occasions.

Overall though, this didn't take away from what the 25-year-old achieved, with him arguably overachieving; if nothing else, he certainly exceeded expectations. As for the playoffs, it was tough to be too critical of a goalie in his first exposure to the higher intensity associated with the games meaning more.

As per Derek Van Diest of, earlier this season Skinner said he was ready to do better second time around come the playoffs. He went on to explain the invaluable experience he gained during 2022-23 had helped mold him into a better player.

In fairness this made sense, especially after the Edmonton native had previously provided a fascinating insight into a mindset which offered remarkable resilience. As we wrote, he explained how he almost embraces adversity and criticism, with him viewing his job as the best in the world and a privilege even when fans are booing him.

Not going according to plan so far

Having considered all this however, it still doesn't change the reality that Skinner is providing flashbacks to how he performed at the backend of last season. Pure and simple, he has not looked great through the Oilers' first two games of the playoffs this time around.

In the two first round contests versus the Los Angeles Kings, the 2023 NHL All-Star has produced a decidedly poor .857 save percentage and 4.42 GAA. And keep in mind both games have been played within the friendly confines of Rogers Place, as opposed to a hostile environement on the road.

Now to be clear, we're not putting this all on Skinner, also factoring in the play of those in front of him, combined with there being little he could do on some of the goals. At the same time however, he still clearly needs to be better, particularly in Game Two, when the Oilers lost 5-4 in overtime and will now head to Los Angeles with the series tied at 1-1.

Skinner gives him take

Interestingly for someone who's always the first to hold his hand up when he's had a bad game, Skinner wasn't too critical of his performance on Wednesday night. Speaking to the media, he said: "It was okay. I thought I didn't really do too much - I didn't think I was a big factor in the game tonight and that's okay. I'm going to get better from that and move on."

In fairness to the 2017 third round draft pick, and as we previously mentioned, some of the goals were not his fault in the two games. As he said: "The third period the game before, some just really tough bounces were happening. That's not saying that it leaked into tonight; they're just getting some good puck luck right now. We've also had our fair share of puck luck as well. That's just how hockey works sometimes and yeah, the puck luck just wasn't on my side tonight."

Even allowing for bad puck luck, screening -- which was the case on the Kings' fourth goal on Wednesday night -- or anything in a similar vein, Skinner still needs to put together a better showing. As popular and well-liked as he is both in and out of the locker room, it won't be worth anything if he can't successfully help the Oilers in their quest for the Stanley Cup

NHL teams ranked by pressure to win the Stanley Cup. NHL teams ranked by pressure to win the Stanley Cup. dark. Next

The thing is, it's not even as if Skinner needs to be out of this world, when considering the offensive arsenal on this Oilers team. But he still has to show more than he has done so far, otherwise a narrative will begin to development that he just isn't a goalie capable of stepping up and performing under the bright lights and pressure of playoff hockey.

Editor's Picks