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Oilers’ Coach Admits to Big Mistake Ahead of Playoffs vs Kings

The Edmonton Oilers started Stuart Skinner in a meaningless game with most of their stars out. He got lit up by Colorado. Now what?

Perhaps head coach Kris Knoblauch didn’t see a blowout coming. Maybe he thought his starting goaltender wouldn’t be rattled after a solid season. Whatever the case, the Edmonton Oilers bench boss admitted after Thursday’s final regular season game that he made a mistake starting Skinner and letting him get lit up for four goals in just minutes. How costly will that mistake be heading into the 2023-24 NHL playoffs?

Skinner was one of only a few key players on the Oilers’ roster to be in the lineup on Thursday. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mattias Ekholm, and Evan Bouchard were all resting in preparation for a matchup against the Los Angeles Kings. Skinner started against a completely loaded Colorado Avalanche roster and got bitten often and early.

Kris Knoblauch Stuart Skinner Oilers

“It wasn’t fair for him. Very difficult,” Knoblauch said. “Before [the game] we had planned on how much he was going to play, and the chances he saw wasn’t a very structured game. The chances were point-blank changes that are very difficult for the goalie. Not easy for him.”

Skinner was pulled after the first period and Calvin Pickard took over in the second and third. It was a mercy pull, and ironically, the Oilers settled in, allowing only one more goal.

Did the Oilers Coaching Mistake Rattle Skinner?

The question now is, how will Skinner’s final performance affect his playoffs? Skinner only has one series of playoff experience on his resume. It went OK, but he struggled at times. He wound up with a 3.68 goals against average (GAA) along with a .883 save percentage (SV%). Those are not Stanley Cup-winning numbers. A typically calm and cool goalie, does allowing four goals on 13 shots shake his confidence a little?

It will be important the Oilers help limit chances against. It’s an important strategy regardless, but making sure Skinner gets saves early should allow him to dump any doubt in Game 1.

Next: What to Expect From Canucks vs. Predators Playoff Series

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