Top News

Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen cares about saves more than sticks

Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks looks for a rebound after goalie Mikko Koskinen #19 of the Edmonton Oilers made the save during NHL action at Rogers Arena on December 1, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks looks for a rebound after goalie Mikko Koskinen #19 of the Edmonton Oilers made the save during NHL action at Rogers Arena on December 1, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen might be the only NHL tender who doesn’t care much about his sticks. He doesn’t have the usual knob of tape on the end to grip it better.

“I’m just too lazy, that’s the only reason. I don’t have time to do it every game,” said Koskinen.

Hard to believe, being lazy is it. There must be some deeper-seated reason.

But isn’t it harder to hold onto the stick without a heavy tape job?

“No and I don’t do poke-checks too often so I haven’t lost my stick for awhile,” he said.

Koskinen doesn’t want to compare last season to this sterling 10-2-0-1 record, .921 save percentage and 2.55 average.

“New season, different story. That’s your guys to compare,” he said.

Why is he not taking the slings and arrows of criticism this year? Why the improvement?

“It’s hard to say, maybe it’s all the small pieces and when you put them together, the whole game is improving,” said Koskinen, an extremely hard worker who was willing to look in the mirror and know he had to make changes.

Koskinen was overworked the last six weeks last season after Cam Talbot got traded to Philadelphia and his play suffered.

Oilers winger Alex Chiasson sees a major difference every day.

“He’s more composed in practice, he’s not sliding last second to make a save, now with his body he feels he can manage his reaction time,” said Chiasson. “It goes to his confidence.”

Splitting the goaltending with Mike Smith has certainly helped.

“He seems more fresh and you’re seeing that more around the NHL this year where teams are using two goalies,” said Chiasson.

NO CHANGE UP FRONT

No. 2 centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and first-line RW Zack Kassian will both be out for the game against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

“Nuge (hand) skated on his own before morning practice today and Kassian (back spasms) didn’t get on the ice but will (Wednesday), probably by himself, too,” said coach Dave Tippett.

Defenceman Matt Benning, who got whacked on the ear by Evander Kane’s stick in San Jose Nov. 19 and was under concussion protocol, took a Josh Leivo shot off his helmet in Vancouver in his first game back and didn’t skate Tuesday.

“He’ll be out for a time. He passed the concussion test but they’re looking at some other things,” said the Oilers coach.

The Oilers have recalled Joel Persson from Bakersfield and sent Caleb Jones down and also put Benning on injured reserve.

THRILL AND AGONY ON ONE SHIFT

Oilers winger Patrick Russell admits to having a pit in his stomach Sunday as he waited to see if a video review would give him his first NHL goal in Vancouver or be wiped out by goalie inference.

“Once they challenged it, I still thought it would be a goal because I had looked at it on the bench (TV), then when it wasn’t I was thinking, ‘c’mon, gimme a break.’” said Russell.

“I had a couple of texts saying ‘congratulations,’ then follow-ups saying, ‘ah never mind.’”

Tippett had never gone through a situation where a player scored his first NHL goal, then had it wiped out.

“When a guy scores that goal, you see the reaction from the other players they all know what’s going on, then it doesn’t count and it’s ‘waw, waw, waw,’” said Tippett.

PERKS OF BEING IN NHL

Farm goalie Stuart Skinner got a sniff of how it is in the NHL, sitting on the bench as the back-up to Koskinen in Vancouver, but has gone back to Bakersfield with Mike Smith (leg) ready to suit up for Ottawa after feeling a tweak last Saturday in the loss to the Canucks.

Skinner got a couple of days of big-league money as part of his $700,000 salary plus a ride on the charter home from Vancouver after the bus rides he has throughout California and Arizona. He also got to see his family here.

What’s biggest difference on travel arrangements?

“I was able to get on it once before for the rookie tournament and I knew they had nice, fancy dinners, anything you want actually,” said Skinner of the No Hungry League.

“Lots of leg space too, big wide seats,” said the six-foot-four goalie.

This ’n that: Lots of talk about Oilers relying on their big guns, but it’s no different in Boston. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have 38 goals, the rest 53. In Boston, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have 43 of Bruins 99 goals, which leaves 56 for everybody else … Draisaitl knows Calgary coach Geoff Ward fairly well; “He was our national team assistant coach for a few years. He was awesome. Obviously you can’t compare assistant to head coach but I really liked him, great knowledge,” said Draisaitl … Chiasson will continue to wear his jaw protection for a while longer. “I’m having a little trouble with pucks around my feet (seeing). said Chiasson, who still isn’t able to eat really solid foods. “No steak yet unfortunately. Sweet potatoes.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Recent Stories