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Stuart Skinner
Photo credit: DARREN YAMASHITA-USA TODAY SPORTS

NHL insider shares Oilers coach reason for not starting Stuart Skinner

Published May 14, 2024 at 1:23 PM
BY FRED MALTES
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In a pivotal move that could reshape their playoff fate, the Edmonton Oilers are opting for a goaltender swap tonight, banking on Calvin Pickard's prowess to overturn a 2-1 series deficit on home ice. The decision comes as a direct response to Stuart Skinner's recent underperformance, a choice underscored by a blend of tactical necessity and psychological strategy.

Coach Knoblauch's shift to Pickard is not merely about statistics; it's a calculated gamble aimed at injecting stability and confidence back into the team. This strategy shift was notably influenced by concerns about Skinner's mental fortitude, triggered by his own admissions and on-ice demeanor post-defeat. This detail, spotlighted by sports commentator Elliotte Friedman, highlights a deeper team anxiety about the psychological robustness required for high-stakes games, which seems to be wavering in Skinner.


The mental aspect of NHL goaltending is pivotal, as vividly demonstrated by Jack Campbell's struggles over the past two seasons. Oilers fans are painfully aware of how quickly confidence can spiral, affecting performance. Skinner, despite a strong regular season, has faltered dramatically in the playoffs with a save percentage of just .796, rendering him nearly ineffective for the current series.



Stuart Skinner Admits Emotional Impact in Playoff Performances
Compounding the decision, Skinner's own reflections on his emotional state during the critical Game 3 reveal a goalie grappling with the pressures of postseason hockey. His candid acknowledgment at a recent practice about emotions impacting his play adds another layer to the Oilers' goaltending saga. As a sophomore in the league, Skinner's journey is still evolving, suggesting that his best days could still be ahead—pending he navigates the psychological hurdles of playoff intensity.


Tonight's game is more than a routine playoff match for the Oilers; it's a must-win that will test their strategic adjustments and mental resilience. With significant lineup changes and Pickard at the helm, the team's response to this challenge could dictate not only the outcome of the series but also influence offseason decisions, particularly regarding their goaltending roster.

As the Oilers face off with the intent to level the series, all eyes will be on Pickard's performance and the team's ability to rally from adversity. This game could very well be a defining moment for the Oilers' season and their future in goaltending strategy.
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May 14   |   77 answers
NHL insider shares Oilers coach reason for not starting Stuart Skinner

Do you think Skinner is really thinking about playoff goaltending?

Yes, the playoffs are too tough on him4963.6 %
No, he will bounce back, he should start2026 %
See Results810.4 %
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