The Edmonton Oilers were not good to start Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. That said, there was no way they were bad enough to be down by four goals midway through the first period and left to climb themselves out of a very deep hole. No, that happened because goaltender Mikko Koskinen was worse than bad. He was so bad, you almost had to feel for him.
Koskinen allowed four goals on four shots. He didn’t make a single save in his appearance. and Mike Smith actually wound up with more points in the game than Koskinen had saves. He got beat twice high glove, then high blocker side, only to let the fourth trickle through five hole before getting pulled. Smith came on in relief and did a much more efficient job. There were a couple of times the Oilers looked like they might creep back into it.
They didn’t and lost 6-3.
Reactions on Koskinen’s performance were wide ranging on Thursday night. Some people decided not to read too much into it. Others went to the far end of the sky-is-falling extreme and suggested Koskinen’s performance meant the Oilers were doomed come playoff time.
While the Oilers fans watched on in total shock and awe, media outlets were quick to react. Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 wrote: “You gotta be kidding me… four goals on four shots. That last one was ugly. Koskinen snapping stick against post a fitting picture. Hello @EliasSports… Has any other NHL team scored four goals on their first four shots of the game? Thanks.”
Tom Gazzola wrote, “4 shots, 4 goals. Koskinen’s night is over. Yikes.”
Mike Futa said during the first intermission, “He couldn’t even break his stick right.” It was a bit harsh to kick a guy while he was down, but it was true as it took Koskinen a couple of whacks against the goal post to show his frustration. Foruntately, Koskinen didn’t seem to let it fester TSN’s Ryan Rishaug pointed out: “Koskinen is already in his seat on the bench. Often frustrated goalies will cool off in the tunnel or the room for a couple minutes.”
Oilers Won’t Overreact
As should be the case, the Oilers themselves will likely be the group that worries the least. They’ll know that what happened on Thursday is not a fair representation of what Koskinen can actually do. He may not be a legitimate starter in the NHL, but he’s not as bad as this performance suggested.
“After the third one I was going to let him battle. After the fourth one, we needed a change,” Tippett added. “Some nights, it’s not your night.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the first four shots go in your net,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. He went on to suggest there were a lot of breakdowns early and really only suggested Koskinen should have had the last two goals. Tippett knows it wasn’t a strong performance, but he also knows it wasn’t entirely Koskinen’s fault.
Captain Connor McDavid agreed: “Our whole team wasn’t very good to start. Top to bottom.” Perhaps in an effort to get things back on track, McDavid kicked it up a notch because he finished with another three-point night to pull to 96 points on the season with four games to play.
The question now will be if Edmonton goes back to Koskinen on Saturday. Second place is pretty much a given at this point and the biggest takeaways from most of these games will be to see if McDavid can reach 100 points. Still, the Oilers want Koskinen to feel good about his game going into the postseason and Smith just played 80% of a game he didn’t think he’d be on the ice for.
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