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Oilers Thoughts on Goaltending

November 13, 2022, 10:57 PM ET [10 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Hello everyone. For starters I would like to thank everyone for being patient with the lack of blogs over the last week or so. I will strive to be more active from here on out.

It was a wild few days in Oil Country as the team and the fanbase were riding the highs and lows... most of which occurred around the goaltending situation.

Let's start with Jack Campbell.

No one can say for certain if it would have mattered if Campbell was in net or not for the Oilers against the Hurricanes as the rest of the team struggled heavily but Campbell was at the very least the final nail in the coffin. Regardless of the on ice play, the score was at least close halfway through the second period. A good netminder goes a long way in stabilizing a team that is struggling and give them a chance to get back into the game. The third and fourth goals that Carolina scored were directly on Campbell. The third was simply a strong shot without any traffic in front that beat Campbell clean glove side; something that has become a narrative already in a short amount of time. The fourth came in the final seconds of the second period with an Oilers turnover and Campbell sitting far too back in his own net and with less than a second left in the period the Hurricanes made it 4-1. That was the end of the game.

Compare that to the game yesterday afternoon against the Panthers. The Oilers once again were flat out of the gates but Stuart Skinner stood tall and made a number of fantastic saves to keep his team in the game. As the game went on the Oilers finally realized they were playing a real game and took over. That is not something this team has gotten from Jack Campbell yet.

Over the past three seasons (not including this season) Campbell was one of 31 goalies who played at least 4000 minutes at 5 on 5. He ranked 16th of those with a 5 on 5 SV% of 0.920%. It was that stat that made many, including myself believe that he would be a steady starting goaltender for the Oilers.

The stat I always looked at cautiously but for the most part ignored was his HDSV% - High Danger Save Percentage. That is the save percentage on shots that Natural Stat Trick views as having the highest chance of going in. Campbell ranked 30th of 31 with a 0.799SV%. To compare, the best in the league over the past three seasons was Shesterkin with a 0.869SV%. Goalies overall have a much lower HDSV% than at 5 on 5 but Campbell's was much lower than the norm.

The issue that amplifies that is that right now this season, the Oilers have allowed the third most High Danger chances against in the NHL. Only the Islanders and Ducks have allowed more. Campbell is a goalie who has historically struggled with the Grade A chances and the Oilers right now are a team that are bleeding high danger chances against.

Some are already talking about buying out the Campbell contract; that is premature and just doesn't make any sense. Right now Stuart Skinner is the starter for this team. A year ago we were saying the same about Mikko Koskinen before Smith finally came back in good form. Campbell has been flat out bad through the first month and a half but cutting and running on a 5 year deal now is just not going to happen. The team needs to work with him and help him through this.

The good news is right now Skinner is playing lights out and this adds to my frustration on why the team absolutely needed to figure out what he was last season rather than keep Koskinen and Smith the entire time. Perhaps if Skinner had a larger body of work last season for the team to look at, they wouldn't have been so rash to jump out and offer a long term deal to a guy like Campbell.

Skinner ranks first in the NHL right now with a 0.955SV% at 5 on 5. Those are ridiculous numbers. He has allowed the fewest goals against at 5 on 5 of any goalie that has played at least 300 minutes at 5 on 5. In HDSV%, Skinner ranks third with a 0.922SV%. Edmonton has a starter who is playing like a top 5 starter in the NHL... it just isn't the guy who they thought it was going to be.

We will surely be discussing in the summer when Skinner needs a new contract and may need to pay him starter money while at the same time paying Campbell as what could be a very expensive backup. That will be on Ken Holland.

For now Skinner will be the guy moving forward and I expect Woodcroft to be giving him the bulk of starts until Campbell can prove he is reliable.
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