The Oilers’ Skinner and Defense Need to Improve Before the Canucks Regain Their Top Goalie

Goalie Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks is not guaranteed to play against the Edmonton Oilers after suffering an injury. Adam Proteau, however, believes that should he return, the Oilers need to win as much as they can.

The Vancouver Canucks are a far bigger threat to the Edmonton Oilers than they are to them, even if they had a fairly easy first-round experience.

That’s even with Arturs Silovs, the Canucks’ third-string goalkeeper, in the opposing net. Despite Silovs’ performance in the given situation, there is a slim possibility of a Vezina Trophy winner coming back as the series progresses.

Thatcher Demko, the Canucks’ top goalie, is reportedly targeting a late-week comeback, maybe between Games 5 and 7 of this series.

Edmonton needs to make changes as quickly as possible for this reason. The Oilers need to make a big defensive shift in order to avoid losing to the Canucks. First and foremost, Oilers goalkeeper Stuart Skinner must play better in the upcoming games than his Vancouver counterpart, or at the very least, maintain his composure under pressure.

Skinner wasn’t the only reason Edmonton lost Game 1; by no means did the eight shots he took in the final two periods make things easier for him. Moneypuck.com reports that Skinner’s minus-2.07 goal save percentage was lower than Silovs’ minus-1.95 goal save percentage when it came to goals saved above expectations, which is a measure of the caliber of scoring opportunities. That may not seem like much, but the Oilers’ best goalie is facing the Canucks’ backup.

After six playoff games, Skinner has a 3.01 goals-against average and an.893 save percentage. In the six games that could still be played in the series, he needs to be a part of the answer, but he also needs support from his teammates to succeed. It all comes down to controlling the quantity and caliber of opportunities Vancouver has in the offensive zone and reducing the kind of errors that cost them a 4-1 lead on Wednesday.

Naturally, the offensive prowess of Vancouver throughout the lineup also poses a challenge to the Oilers’ defense, and vice versa. The Canucks’ four best defenseman have combined for 16 points in that time, while three of their forwards are averaging just one point per game.

They can dig themselves a hole and yet have enough offensive to get out of it, as we’ve seen with the Canucks. The Oilers have also done that this season, but if Demko returns later, they might not enjoy the same luxury this time around.

Vancouver is immediately in trouble if the Oilers can seize home-ice advantage in Friday’s Game 2 and hold serve in Games 3 and 4. But the Oilers will be headed home for the season with a chance that Demko is preparing to step in and be the difference-maker he so frequently is if the Canucks win Game 2 and at least split Games 3 and 4.

This Oilers bunch has more at risk than ever before. This summer, Edmonton management will have to make some extremely tough personnel decisions if they depart with a whimper rather than a bang. Nevertheless, the Oilers may keep developing around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl if they manage to rally and win the series. All of this is really simple, isn’t it?

Their ability to mount a strong defense and work as a cohesive unit will determine if they can defeat the Canucks, a squad that is improving every minute of play.

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