A massive issue the Edmonton Oilers group has been battling for the past few seasons has been consistent goaltending. With Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen being the tandem between the pipes as of late, Alex Stalock, formerly with the Minnesota Wild, was acquired in March 2021.
Edmonton netminder, Smith, recently just suffered an injury that is said to be an issue with his thumb. It is becoming questionable with Smith as he is a 39-year-old goaltender who turns 40 in March.
Meanwhile, Koskinen has had his good and bad nights, but the fanbase and the media tend to point out more of his flaws than his strengths.
Rookie goaltender, Stuart Skinner has also been in goal several games this season, but because this is a rookie season, he may find issues if the team makes the postseason for the 2021-22 campaign.
Looking at Goaltender Alex Stalock
“After contracting COVID-19 in Nov 2020, Stalock was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can lead to cardiac arrest” (The Hockey Writers, Swane). With a brief description that went down with Stalock, it makes sense as to why he has yet to play a game in an Oiler uniform.
Stalock would make his season debut with the Bakersfield Condors, who are officially known as the Oilers’ AHL affiliate team. Depending on his performance in Bakersfield, he could find himself playing several games with the Oilers this season.
Oilers Goals Against
In the team’s most recent game, played at Rogers Place, the Oilers allowed six goals against while putting up four. Five of the goals scored against were shots that found themselves past goaltender Stuart Skinner, while the sixth goal was an empty-net goal scored by Senators forward Zach Sanford.
It was hoped that the break the Oilers received due to COVID-19 this past week would help them reset and focus on winning; although, four goals were not enough. Their next game is against the Calgary Flames, a divisional rival that the Oilers must win to get back on track.
Importance of Goaltending
The phrase, “goaltending wins championships” couldn’t be more relevant to the current Oilers team. Taking a look back into previous Stanley Cup Champions, The Lightning had Andrei Vasilevskiy, Blues with goaltender Jordan Binnington, and Capitals with goaltender Braden Holtby. Those championships were won due to the consistency those goaltenders were able to display in order to outbattle their opposition.
The Edmonton Oilers have been a first-round exit for the past two campaigns, as goaltending and forward depth have been arguably their biggest issues. A new face in Stalock could help this team recover and possibly help them win some more games.
Do the Oilers Need a Big Trade at the Deadline?
The NHL trade deadline is targeted for March 21, where Edmonton could definitely upgrade the rough spots of their team. If Stalock comes into play for the Oilers and plays well, Koskinen or Skinner would likely be the backup.
The goalie market over the summer was great however, Oilers General Manager Ken Holland didn’t make any moves to improve this current tandem.
What to Expect
Going forward with the unpredictability of Ken Holland and the Oilers management, it is completely up in the air as to what could happen with the Oilers team. In the most recent press conference, Holland stated that the importance of managing a hockey team is that it makes its way into the playoffs. He didn’t mention the fact his team is yet again, not a Stanley Cup contender.
Talks of Evander Kane coming to the Oilers was the biggest rumor that has yet to be confirmed for the club. Kane has found himself tied up in several issues over the past few years, and Ken Holland claims he believes in second chances. Would a Kane signing benefit or worsen this current Oilers team? Perhaps a return of Alex Stalock could prevent any unpredictability and risks.
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