The road map that GM Ken Holland laid out on his desk last summer had this destination on it. It wasn’t the preferred one — like getting re-routed through East L.A. on your way to the Mayan Riviera — but he was aware that his Edmonton Oilers could well land here.
When you commit to a 39-year-old goalie as your No. 1, and you know from experience that trading your $4.5 million No. 2 is not an option, this is an outcome Holland knew was possible: That Mike Smith would spend more time on I.R. than on the I.C.E., and his team would have to lean too heavily on Mikko Koskinen.
It all came to a head this week as head coach Dave Tippett unleashed his frustrations on Koskinen after the Oilers goalie took a penalty at the 15-second mark of the game in New York, then misplayed a puck that led to an empty-net goal just minutes later.
A team that has given up the first goal in 20 of its past 24 games was absolutely dying to score first and turn this thing around. But their goalie forbade it, another in a long string of nights in which Koskinen isn’t ready to start the game.
“It’s a brutal mistake,” Tippett said after the game. “What are you going to do? Call it what it is. We’re playing well, and it’s a brutal mistake.
“Our goaltending wasn’t very good, and we didn’t get enough pucks to the net to get back in the game.”
The next day, our good friend in the Finnish media, Tommi Seppala, got ahold of Koskinen on the phone. And Koskinen, tired of the criticism he has faced since former GM Peter Chiarelli ridiculously bestowed that three-year, $13.5-million deal on him, fired back somewhat.