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Is Stuart Skinner ready for primetime? Edmonton Oilers’ season may depend on it

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It’s the feel-good story of the season — an Edmonton kid who grew up idolizing Dwayne Roloson comes to look after the same Oilers net. rice field.

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The Edmonton Oilers season could depend on it.

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Jack Campbell and backup goalkeeper Stuart Skinner, who is part of Edmonton’s new goaltending tandem, said, “It’s a big challenge ahead and I’m really excited.” I can’t cut it.

“Last year we had a little taste. We’re going to do just as well as we did last year. We have one task to stop the pack, and we’re going to do that.”

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With more parity, tighter schedules, more travel, and more attention to the wear and tear that it brings to the team’s most important position, coaches are pulling the reins of starters down significantly.

Gone are the days when goalkeepers play nearly 70 games a season, backups are insignificant seat fillers, and get breadcrumbs several times a year against select patties. Last season, he was only five goaltenders in the NHL with 59 or more starts. That meant the other 27 teams had to rely on backups for almost a third of their games. So it’s no exaggeration to suggest that a backup goalie can make or break a season.

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For a 23-year-old hometown boy who has played in a total of 14 games in the NHL, that’s a big responsibility in an important campaign, but Skinner believes he’s up to the biggest challenge of his professional career.

why? Because he has been working hard for this opportunity.

“I think it’s just an experience,” he said two days after the Oilers’ training camp at Rogers Place. “That’s what I know I’ve done my job. I’ve won a lot of games in the American League and his ECHL.

“I’m a little bit here in the NHL — played for some good teams, won some wins. I’m more comfortable in this league. Keep it up this year, keep growing the game, It’s a year to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Skinner is 7-6-0 all-time in the NHL with a .909 save percentage and a 2.80 GAA. The numbers suggest Campbell (who started his 49th game in Toronto last year) is ready to handle any game he doesn’t swallow, but the goaltender is an odd position and for obvious reasons. Things can go sideways in no time.

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Until Skinner steps in and runs it consistently as a full-time backup, we won’t know if he can.

Oilers goalkeeping coach Dustin Schwartz said, “I don’t know if the question mark is going to be the way I say it.”

“He has proven in 14 starts that he has the skill and ability to play here, but there are many other factors in that. The mental grind of the season, the adversity that comes with it. , are some of the things that time gives him the opportunity to grow.”

When called up last season, Skinner had some great nights (a shutout against the San Jose Sharks and a 46-save victory over Winnipeg) and some average nights. 14 career games aren’t a lot, but all the seasonings matter.

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“The experience is invaluable,” says Schwartz. “Now he just has to get out there and do it.

Goalkeepers are the hardest jobs to break into at the NHL level because there is nowhere to hide. A coach can limit the young forward’s playing time, control his start in his zone, and force him to play against four-line opponents. A goalie is thrown into a 60-minute fire that wasn’t always ready early in his career.

“I think a lot of it is mental,” Schwartz said. “You go to the next level in your career, you put pressure on, the pace of play goes up a lot and that changes your reading. That’s part of the reason why it takes so long. must be

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“He’s come a long way with it. When he got the opportunity with Mike Smith’s injury last year, he was ready and took advantage of it. , was given great credit for the work he expended.”

If there’s a weight on his shoulders, Skinner hasn’t felt it yet.In fact, he’s even more relaxed than he was last year.

“You feel more comfortable,” he said. “I used to be nervous coming to camp, and I still get nervous coming to camp. It’s normal, but this year it’s different.

“I feel more confident and comfortable. I know everyone better. I feel like I’m in a better place.”

rtychkowski@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/rob_tychkowski

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Is Stuart Skinner ready for primetime? Edmonton Oilers’ season may depend on it

Source link Is Stuart Skinner ready for primetime? Edmonton Oilers’ season may depend on it

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