Recent production by Stuart Skinner causes minor concern for Oilers

As much as Stuart Skinner hasn't been terrible per se for the Edmonton Oilers of late, the number of goals he's been allowing has been creeping up.
Edmonton Oilers v St Louis Blues
Edmonton Oilers v St Louis Blues / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

At times on Monday night, the Edmonton Oilers must have felt like they were the victim of some elaborate April 1st joke as they had two goals disallowed, including one for goalie interference by Zach Hyman. However, their own challenge for goalie interference when the St. Louis Blues tied the game at 1-1, was dismissed.

The end result was the Oilers lost 3-2 in overtime, although at least this meant they did leave Enterprise Center with one point. However, they remain five points behind the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division, with just nine games remaining.

Regardless, the Oilers are well-placed for their sixth playoff qualification in eight seasons. At the same time however, there is some cause for concern, with one prime example being the recent production by Stuart Skinner.

Recent drop in productivity

We wrote on Monday about how Skinner believes he's primed to perform better second time around in the playoffs. And this may well be the case, but his form in his past six starts is still something to keep an eye on.

In one respect, the Edmonton native has gone 3-1-2 in his last six games, which isn't terrible per se. However, his 3.11 Goals Against Average (GAA) in those same six appearances is not exactly great.

Skinner has allowed at least three goals in five of those six starts, with his worst outing coming versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. He allowed five goals on the night and was chased from the game after playing just 39:40.

For context, consider that the 25-year-old's 3.11 GAA would rank 41st for the season as a whole for NHL goalies as of Tuesday morning. (Stats courtesy of ESPN.) Further, his .901 save percentage in his last six starts would be tied 31st-worst for the 2023-24 campaign up to this point.

Some bad luck in St. Louis

At the same time, it's not necessarily as bad as the optics seem. For example, Skinner actually had a decent outing in St. Louis on Monday night; as we noted there was an argument for goalie interference on the Blues' first goal, while there was effectively nothing he could do on their second one.

The 2017 third round draft pick was asked about the circumstances surrounding the Blues' first goal. Speaking postgame, he said: "I thought the guy interfered with me, but it's really hard for the ref to see it. ... (Brayden Schenn) kind of stuffed me in the pad and then just because of how a stick's made, he's a pretty tall guy, so the shaft didn't allow me to get my blocker down to the puck. So that's what I was frustrated with."

In fairness all goalies are prone to slumps at certain points during what is a long season, with Skinner still looking good generally speakingfor the campaign. His 2.63 GAA is 0.01 off his career best and is ranked tied-12th best in the NHL on the season. (Also, his 33 wins are tied third-best among all goalies and are a personal career-high.)

Admittedly the 2023 NHL All-Star's .906 save percentage isn't quite as outstanding, ranked tied-24th best among NHL goalies. At the same time it's a significant improvement from being third-worst, which is what he was earlier this season.

dark. Next. Connor McDavid keeps racking up the awards. Connor McDavid keeps racking up the awards

Overall, while Skinner still has the confidence of his teammates (and himself), he must make sure his mini slump does not turn into a major one, especially with the playoffs nearly upon us. Otherwise, the Oilers will likely once again miss out on seriously challenging for the Stanley Cup.

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