"Lately, I haven't made enough of the Note A savings." – Mike Smith, foreplay.
EDMONTON – Deep in his wrinkle and deep in his career, Mike Smith is now officially in a deep hole.
When he played behind an Edmonton Oilers team that you wouldn't call airtight, Smith gave up a softie early on and simply failed to give his team the big parade of a 5-2 loss.
"You are doing one of these parades and it is probably a different game," sighed Smith, who was beaten in both Pittsburgh escape attempts during the night.
Well, of course, giving up escapees contradicts a team that makes mental mistakes, and the first of the two clearly belonged to Oscar Klefbom, who ignored the calls from the bank that Joseph Blandisi came out of the box.
But teams that win get big parades. Teams that lose – and Edmonton has now lost six out of seven – talk about all the big saves they haven't received.
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"You want to save one of them, but they were Grade A chances," said head coach Dave Tippett. "Unlike the first one."
Leon Draisaitl went for the 13th game in a row with minus 4, in which he was not a plus player. He went minus 18 during this time.
"In the past few weeks, he hasn't been nearly as good as at the beginning of the year," admitted Tippett. “He's one of those who will try to put us back in the game if we are left behind. But that leads to many chances against it. "
Pittsburgh played without Sidney Crosby, Justin Schultz, Patric Hornqvist and Brian Dumoulin. Tristan Jarry had a far better goal than Smith, and the skaters were faster, played faster, and with a lot more attention to detail than the loose Oilers.
Edmonton is going sideways, and now the glowing Montreal Canadiens have to wait at 5:00 p.m. MT start on Saturday. Yikes!
"It's not easy to play against a team like Pittsburgh where you have to score three goals in the third third," said Klefbom. "You don't give yourself a chance."
With the team in free fall, it's probably time to play three of four games against Mikko Koskinen and see if he can handle the load. We would expect Smith to play his last game in 2019, as the games are apart.
Then the veteran has to find his game. Currently, his savings percentage is .893 – a few points lower than the .898 published in Calgary last year.
"You have to save. You have to save more," repeated Smith. "In important seasons we either make too many mistakes and they cannot be covered up. Or I myself cannot save in the game at the right time. You make one of these breakaway saves and it is probably a different game."
The last time these two teams met, Smith scored 51 saves in a 2-1 extra-time win. Since this game in Pittsburgh, however, Smith has been 2: 5 and the percentage of savings is 0.854. The Oilers aren't exactly the 1995 New Jersey Devils, but Smith's game fell off a cliff.
"You can only do so much," said Smith, 37. "The numbers affect the way you rate a goalkeeper from the outside in. But you only control what you can control as a goalkeeper. You can't control what's going on in front of you, whether it's distractions or breakouts, power games or penalties.
"In the past couple of games, I feel like I played pretty well. I didn't save that much in games at important times. I feel like I don't let soft ones in. It's the important, the big savings, which are a higher (pedigree) chance? You have to make more of it. "
In a 3-2 league, the Oilers scored four or more goals on home ice for the sixth time in eight games. This is partly due to a matte goalkeeper, but also due to defensive errors by a loose team.
It needs to be fixed, or it has to wait another year outside of the playoffs.