The Edmonton Oilers got some good news when Mike Smith was activated from injured reserve today but it comes with a downside–Mikko Koskinen has now been placed in the COVID protocol. Jason Gregor of TSN reports that Stuart Skinner will be recalled as the second goaltender with Smith starting tomorrow against the Vegas Golden Knights.
That likely means that it will be Skinner on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks as the Oilers try to string some wins together coming out of the break. Though Koskinen has seen his fair share of criticism this season, he should also get some serious credit for the run he had going into the break.
Over his last five games, Koskinen went 4-0-1 with a .920 save percentage, essentially saving the Oilers’ season from completely spiraling out of control. With him out, the team will have to hope that Smith–who has played three games since October–and Skinner can hold the fort and get them off to a good start in the second half of the season.
Edmonton is one of the teams with several games in hand at this point, having only played 42 to this point. The condensed schedule really comes quickly, as they’ll play five games by February 15. The worst part of this timing is that it’s added onto the end of the scheduled All-Star break, meaning it will be nearly two weeks from his last game when Koskinen is even eligible to return.