Following a Game 5 meltdown that lasted about 90 seconds, the Edmonton Oilers now find themselves in a hole, down 3-2 in their series versus the Vegas Golden Knights. Stuart Skinner was pulled for the third time in these playoffs and Jack Campbell came on in relief and played well, again. An argument can be made that the team should absolutely go to Campbell to start Game 6, but head coach Jay Woodcroft remained secretive about his plans for the net.
Ryan Rishaugh of TSN tweeted, “Woodcroft said he feels the pressure is squarely on Vegas trying to close it out and not on them. Wouldn’t say who starts in game 6 (per usual).”
It is true that Woodcroft has declined to reveal his starter each time Campbell has finished a game he didn’t start. Both times, Woodcroft went back to Skinner and both times Skinner rebounded with a solid performance. But, how many times can a coach go back to the well and hope that his starting netminder can do more than just have a bounce-back game? Skinner has been alright, but his numbers aren’t wonderful. He’s not stolen the Oilers any games and a starter needs to do that at least once or twice on the road to the Stanley Cup. Campbell seems the more likely of the two goalies to do so at this point.
The decision may or may not have been made at this point, but what Woodcroft told the media was that he is going to “reserve the right to take the time that we have before we have to make that decision.” This could mean he’s seriously thinking about making a change and if he did, it wouldn’t be hard to blame him.
One thing Woodcroft will need to take into account is how confident Skinner is at this point. Even if these losses aren’t his fault, how many times can a goalie be pulled before his mental ability to stay positive is affected? Is he shaken at this point? How could he not be?
This won’t be an easy decision. On one hand, you want to see if Skinner can bounce back as he’s done in the past. On the other, if you’re wrong, it’s possible you’re out of the playoffs. All the while, you’ve got a red-hot goaltender sitting there who has proven he can help.
Maybe It’s Not the Goaltending That’s the Issue
One could also argue that it wasn’t the goaltending that cost the Oilers Game 5. A strange call by the faraway official that put Philip Broberg in the box when Jack Eichel was arguably the one holding the stick started the Oilers’ downfall. Mattias Janmark then took an undisciplined high-sticking penalty to put the Oilers down two men and that did them in. Vegas got two, then scored again to come back from down one to up two. A late goal by Connor McDavid helped, but the failure to capitalize more than once on a five-minute major ended up being the dagger.
Next: Keith Jones Says Flyers Job Offer Came Out of Nowhere
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David Robert Norton
May 16, 2023 at 12:22 pm
Oilers need to change the coach. Woodcroft too predictable – always plays Skinner and refuses to play his better playoff performers (third line) on power play. Vegas was the better team and Cassidy was much smarter.