Stuart Skinner is Rising Up for the Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers goaltending has been highly criticized during these playoffs. However, the fact remains that the Oilers are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2006, and Stuart Skinner is a big reason why.

In Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars, Skinner stopped 34 of 35 shots faced. The Oilers had ten shots on goal in the series-clinching game. Even though everyone points to Connor McDavid and what he did, if it were not for Stuart Skinner, the Oilers would be going to a Game 7 against the Dallas Stars.

“He was unbelievable tonight,” McDavid said post-game 6 to the media.. “We’re not sitting up here talking about a win if it wasn’t for him. We’re on a plane to Dallas if it wasn’t for Stu.”

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Skinner held down the fort. The penalty kill is rolling and has now killed off 28 straight opponents’ power plays. They say your best penalty killer is your goalie, and the Oilers are finding out that Skinner can come up with the big saves when he needs to.

Unlike in previous years, Skinner is not giving up bad goals that can cost the Oilers. Everyone will point to Jason Robertson‘s hat trick goal in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, but there weren’t many he wanted back outside of that goal.

As has documented, the Edmonton Oilers had to make a goalie switch in Round 2 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Head coach Kris Knoblauch decided to give Skinner time off to rest and reset and allow Calvin Pickard to right the ship for the Oilers.

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And rightfully so, there was a point where Skinner had a .870 save percentage. That would not get it done for the Oilers in the playoffs. However, after a couple of games off in the Vancouver series, Knoblauch returns to Stuart Skinner in a must-win Game 6 and has been rewarded.

Over his last eight games, Skinner has a 6-2 record with a 1.81 goals against average and .920 save percentage. Those numbers have allowed many of his most prominent critics to be silenced.

“Can’t say enough good things. I think (Skinner) learned a lot from last year’s playoffs, and he’s putting it to good use,” McDavid said postgame following Game 6. “A lot of people doubt him, a lot of people say things about him. He’s an elite goaltender – he really is. He was so good for us all series long, gave us a chance every single night. Tonight, he absolutely stole one for us.”

However, some will still doubt his ability to win the Oilers a Stanley Cup. Skinner needs to play within himself. He has to make the saves he is supposed to make. Occasionally, Stuart Skinner will need to make a couple of extra saves. For the Oilers to win, Skinner has to keep playing the same way.

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If Skinner puts up a .923 save percentage, as he did in the Western Conference Final, in the Stanley Cup Final, Edmonton could win its first Stanley Cup Championship since 1990 and end the Canadian drought that dates back to 1993.

Not only has it been a rocky road for the Edmonton Oilers to get to this point, but it has been for Stuart Skinner as well. He had a .854 save percentage to begin the season, and over the final 51 games, he posted a .913 save percentage. He needs to be good enough for the Oilers.

He has the ability to steal games for the Edmonton Oilers. Skinner did in Game 4 in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings and he did so against the Dallas Stars.

All eyes will be on Stuart Skinner when the puck drops on Saturday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, but one thing is for sure: if he steals one game and plays well enough in the others, the Oilers might beat a very good Florida Panthers team.