It’s been a wild start to the season so far.
The Oilers have compiled just three wins in their first eight games, and the schedule doesn’t look to be getting any easier any time soon. Edmonton split a pair of games in Winnipeg, prior to that they split a two game series in Toronto. There have been some ups, some downs, but one thing has remained constant throughout that time: Mikko Koskinen has played in every minute of every game so far.
Koskinen’s last outing was a 6-4 loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday night, a game that saw him turn aside 27 of 32 shots for a less than stellar .844 SV% on the night. Through eight games, Koskinen has a 3-5 record and a .900 SV% overall, which ranks him at 29th overall among goalies with 2 or more games played in this young season. His .904 at 5 on 5...well, you get the idea. I don’t know when (if?) he’ll turn this around, but I do know that it’s probably a good idea to give a night off to a guy who is struggling and let him watch a game from the bench. Mikko Koskinen leads the league in minutes played by 113 minutes, which is nearly two full games. He could probably use a breath.
The issue (as you’re well aware of by now) is that the options on the Oilers roster aren’t plenty. Mike Smith is currently on long term injured reserve. Anton Forsberg got picked up by Carolina and is now in Winnipeg. The Oilers put in a successful claim for Troy Grosenick who is set to be activated soon; he will be eligible to play as soon as his quarantine time comes to an end. Grosenick last played in an NHL game in 2014, though he’s put up solid numbers in the AHL. Grosenick was claimed off of waivers from the LA Kings on January 16th. By the time he got to Canada (he had driven to Washington waiting to see if the Oilers would claim Aaron Dell from Toronto), his first appearance of the season might not be until January 31st or later.
This makes Stuart Skinner the only other option right now. Skinner has yet to appear in an NHL game (he was to be playing a bunch in Bakersfield this season), but he’s backed up Koskinen since the Forsberg / Grosenick drama went down a couple of weeks ago.
The Leafs are in Edmonton for a pair of games tomorrow and Saturday. The Senators follow on Sunday. I have Grosenick becoming eligible to play Ottawa by Sunday, and you’d have to think that barring any changes that Grosenick will get more than the odd game here or there between then and the end of the regular season.
The Oilers host Toronto for the first of two games tomorrow night. You’ll probably see Koskinen for his ninth straight start, he’ll probably make it ten in a row on Saturday.