It was January 21, 2018, and I was in the midst of a beautiful day trip with my amazing girlfriend to Lake Louise when I got the Tweet notification from Elliotte Friedman.
On a day where Peter Chiarelli should have been fired, it looks like he’ll re-sign a 30-year-old goalie with a career .905 sv% to a three-year, $15 million deal.
— zach laing (@zjlaing) January 21, 2019
She wasn’t happy that I was rage tweeting, I wasn’t happy that
Peter Chiarelli the Oilers management group made such a lucrative signing for such a someone with a .905 career save per centage.
I know I wasn’t the only one who follows the Oilers that nearly lobbed my phone across the room.
The move came at a… curious time for the Oilers. Koskinen had played in only 27 games for the team posting a decent-enough .911 save per centage — a number that would drop to a .906 by years end.
He showed well at times, but he also really looked out of place.
Admittedly, I was nervous. It was a large commitment by
Peter Chiarelli the Oilers management group for a cap-strapped team doubly so considering Koskinen had really not proven a lot.
So coming into this year, as you all know, one of the big storylines was surrounding the Oilers netminders. Was Mikko Koskinen going to actually prove himself? Could Mike Smith rebound after a brutal year? Would the 1A/1B split actually work?
Early returns on all three of those questions have been a resounding yes. Now, of course, we’ve only seen 11 games between the two, but things are looking… good?
It’s a curious case given how difficult goaltenders are when it comes to not only predicting what they can do but also analyzing what they’ve done. Goalies are voodoo, as many say.
What we do know is that Koskinen has won all five games he’s started posting a .927 sv% while Smith has won three of six posting a .925 sv%. They rank #9 and #10 among goalies with over five games played, respectively, after Thursday night’s games.
The pair have battled in games and even after letting in a leaky goal here or there, they’ve been able to respond by shutting the door to give the team in front of them a chance to get back into games. Last night’s massive win was a prime example of that.
Don't look now but Mikko Koskinen is 5-0. He is the first Oilers goalie in franchise history to win his first five starts of a season. He has a .927sv%. He has been very steady all five games. Big reason Oilers are 8-2-1. #NHL
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) October 25, 2019
Looking at goaltending numbers for last five years, the league average save per centage has hovered around the .905 to .911 mark — a surefire target for this year’s tandem. If Edmonton can get that, or better by years end, then it’s going to greatly help the team’s chances when it comes to vying for a playoff spot in the spring.
Now we don’t really know what to expect from the pair moving forward. The wheels could come off, they could both lose confidence in their solid starts, and things could get 2014-2015 Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth ugly. Or, things could stay good and Koskinen and Smith could provide above-average goaltending. Who knows.
But for now, let’s enjoy these wins while we can without keeping expectations too high on these guys.
On Twitter: @zjlaing