The Oilers played a pretty good road game last night in Tampa. The Lightning hadn’t played in over a week, and the Oilers were eager to forget about their 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Unfortunately for the Oilers, they’re just not getting any help in net right now. It’s costing them games, and last night’s 5-3 loss to the Lightning was a prime example.
Mike Smith has started the last two games for the Oilers. Just like the last two games prior to Dave Tippett getting relieved, he’s allowed eight goals. We here at Copper and Blue Hockey Industries and Heavy Machinery Inc™ have determined that Smith ought to have stopped three of the four he allowed in last night’s loss to the Lightning.
Especially this one.
That’s...not a goal you can allow in the NHL. That’s not a goal you can allow in the ECHL, That goal is LOL. It just can’t happen on a serious hockey club. By this point, the Oilers are stepping comfortably away from this game. It’s 3-1 Tampa after this goal, and it would be 4-1 just five minutes later.
The Oilers would make a game of it, as both Zach Hyman and Connor McDavid would score goals to make it 4-3. That’s the closest the Oilers got in this one. An empty net goal for Tampa makes it 5-3, and the Oilers lose their second straight.
Mike Smith has had flashes where he’s been a steady goaltender this year. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly enough to compensate for his inability to remain healthy or NHL-calibre. Smith is putting up a .891 SV% in 13 games this season, is right above Joonas Korpisalo (.887 SV%) in all situations. That might have been just fine in 1989, but today? Woof.
Consistency has been an issue for Mike Smith this year. Staying healthy has been another issue altogether. Smith will be 40 years of age in less than a month, and simply relying on him to be healthy and ready to play is a concern. He’s already missed a significant chunk of the season due to a lower body injury, his most recent injury was a partially torn tendon in his hand. With Smith signed through the 2022-23 NHL season, I can’t imagine what they’re expecting from him going forward.
CAN’T YOU WAIVE HIM?
The Oilers could waive Mike Smith, but I’m pressed to think of a team who would extend a claim on the soon-to-be quadragenarian. And honestly? I’m not sure I want Smith in Bakersfield screaming at his defencemen when things go wrong. You know, sort of like he’s been doing after he allows a bad goal?
Maybe they call up Skinner and keep three goalies on the roster. Maybe Holland gets on the phone with Jim Nill and trades for Braden Holtby. Hopefully he doesn’t give up a first rounder to do it. Maybe something else happens altogether. The Oilers are leaking points in a competitive Pacific Division due to goaltending.
If they leak too many more, they’ll be back on the outside looking in.