Does Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith improve the Oilers’ chances of making the postseason? Oilers’ head coach Dave Tippett believes he does. And, at least Smith proved in his first game of the season that he was up to the task.
Smith Does Well in His First Game of the 2020-21 Season
Smith got his first start of the season against the Ottawa Senators and came away with a 3-1 victory. The expectations were that the game would likely be a high-scoring affair; however, it was far from that. Instead, Smith stopped 27 of 28 shots in Monday night’s 3-1 win over the Senators.
The 38-year-old Smith was solid the entire game and made a large number of key saves throughout. Only a goal by the Senators’ Evgenii Dadonov got past Smith – otherwise, flawless.
Smith, who made his season debut after coming off long-term injured reserve (LTIR) on Sunday, noted: “I’m really excited to get back in the net. I feel like I’m in a good spot mentally and physically.”
Two Rested Goalies Are Far Better than One Tired Goalie
If Smith can stay on top of his game, and Mikko Koskinen can play as he did against the Senators during the team’s last game, the Oilers might have a goalie duo that can take them on a ride into the postseason.
So far during the season, Koskinen has been about the only goalie the Oilers have thrown out there. That might change if Smith can put together a number of solid games like his first one of the season. Koskinen’s started 12 of the Oilers’ 13 games this season, but he’ll likely begin to split the workload with Smith as the team moves into the future.
Koskinen Responds with a Strong Game Himself
Koskinen followed up Smith’s win by stopping 40 shots in a 3-2 victory over the same Senators. For Koskinen, it was a solid game. With Smith back in the lineup again, Koskinen’s workload should get begin to ease off a little bit. If that’s the case, he should be able to improve his goals-against-average of 3.43 and his .save percentage of .895 for the season.
Tippett Explains Why His Two Goalies Can Do the Job
Obviously, as you can see in the video below, Tippett believes Smith will become a huge factor for the Oilers’ success going forward. In the video, Tippett explains that he believes Smith’s return will be huge for the Oilers as the team engages the remainder of the season.
Getting Schmitty Back Allows Both Goalies to Stay Fresh
Although he didn’t say specifically, apparently to coach Tippett, freshness is important in bread, laundry, and the team’s goalie play. Tippett noted that having Smith back to share the workload with Koskinen helps both goalies stay fresh.
He lauded both goalies for coming in and giving their team such a strong game. As Tippett suggested, a goalie’s job is to give his team a chance to win every night, and that’s just what these two goalies have done during their most recent games.
If you’re an Oilers’ fan, you have to hope that that kind of strong goalie play will continue into the future.
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