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Why Game 3 Might Be Do or Die For Oilers’ Stuart Skinner

Stuart Skinner hasn’t played poorly and should respond in Game 3, but if the Kings go up 2-1 in the series with the Oilers, is Skinner done?

Stuart Skinner hasn’t played poorly in two games versus the Los Angeles Kings. That said, Game 2 wasn’t his best outing, and based on an overtime loss, it’s clear there’s little room for error when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers. Tied in their series 1-1, Game 3 goes Friday night and this particular game might be Skinner’s one shot to secure the net or lose it to backup Calvin Pickard.

While a select few individuals are already panicking on social media about Skinner allowing and admitting he should have had a couple of goals in the series, most understand he’s played fine. Three of the four goals in Game 1 weren’t his fault. A couple in Game 2 weren’t either. But, they don’t ask how, they ask how many, and the Oilers are giving up too many goals to feel comfortable they can handle the Kings with ease.

Skinner Knows He Has to Be Better in Game 3

When Skinner was asked about his performance in Game 2, he responded:

“He (Kempe) made a good shot, but I think I can make that stop. The second goal was an odd bounce off of two guys. On the third one Doughty mishandled the breakaway as he was trying to go to his backhand and I could have made a better read. The fourth one I didn’t see it at all, Byfield made a good screen. The fifth one was a strange deflection that lands right on Kopitar’s stick and he made a good shot. It is a good opportunity to learn and grow.”

The hope for Oilers’ fans is that Skinner applies those learning lessons immediately.

Meanwhile, Pickard is ready to go. He’s played extremely well in a backup role and while the team wasn’t counting on him being a factor when the season began, he’s done more than anyone could have asked. Head coach Kris Knoblauch should feel comfortable going with Pickard if the need arises. That could come as early as Game 3 if Skinner’s start isn’t good or in Game 4 if the Oilers can’t take the lead back in the series.

Oilers Can’t Afford to Go Down 3-1

Edmonton is looking to steal a game back in Los Angeles. Preferably, they’ll win both Friday and Sunday, but if the Kings take Game 3, and Skinner is partially to blame, Edmonton can’t afford to lose Game 4. The Kings have players who know how to get it done. They may not be as skilled and elite as Edmonton, but they aren’t going away. A 3-1 series deficit isn’t impossible to overcome, but it’s a tough ask.

Stuart Skinner Oilers Game 3

Game 3 needs to be Skinner’s statement game. He needs to make big saves, avoid getting scored on first, and the team needs to help him. As Terry Jones tweeted, one of the keys to the game will be the Oilers’ ability to play the low event, intelligent, hockey. There can be few to no turnovers and the defence needs to give Skinner a chance to win the goaltender battle.

Knoblauch said, “I’m not faulting him on any of those goals,” when talking about Skinner’s play. Even still, while it may not be Skinner’s fault, he’ll be the scapegoat if Game 3 doesn’t go the Oilers’ way.

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