It wasn’t necessarily Mike Smith’s fault that the Edmonton Oilers got trounced on Saturday in Game 1 of a best-of-five series versus the Chicago Blackhawks. That said, the goaltender won’t get a chance to prove he isn’t to blame.
As the Oilers finished their morning skate, media awaited a decision from head coach Dave Tippett as to who would get the nod during Monday night’s contest. The Oilers will need to come out with a better effort than they did in Game 1 and the belief is that Koskinen provides a fresh perspective, he’s played well, and the team needs a quick shake-up.
Ryan Rishaug of TSN confirmed just before noon eastern time that Koskinen would be getting the start. The report was confirmed by Sportsnet’s Mark Spector.
Change Was In Order
The choice to go with Smith in Game 1 was a bit of a surprise for a lot of media and fans who watched Koskinen play extremely well in the latter-half of the regular season and during the exhibition game against the Calgary Flames. Still, Tippett went with the player he knew extremely well and had playoff experience.
It didn’t pan out.
Smith was solely responsible for the first Blackhawks’ goal as he lost the puck while trying to come out and play it, giving Dylan Strome an easy one. He made some key saves after that but still looked shaky as Chicago lit him up for five goals before he was pulled in the second period. But, the Oilers were not good in front of him, Tippett calling out a number of the players for their role in the loss.
Koskinen won’t have a long leash Monday night either. But, when asked about Koskinen’s playoff experience, Tippett said, he doesn’t view Koskinen as inexperienced at all and feels he’ll give them a steady solid game. Koskinen has one career start against Chicago. He shut them out stopping all 40 shots he faced.
The Oilers can’t afford to go down two games in a short five-game series. If they do, winning three-straight would be an extremely difficult task.
Other Oilers Changes?
Rishaug also noted that the forward lines could see some changes. He wrote:
Another potential change he could consider is swapping Kassian and Archibald. Similar fast physical styles. Kassian wasn’t a factor in game one and that could shake things up a bit.
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