Unsurprisingly, Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen didn't appreciate the pointed criticism he received from his coach following another disappointing outing in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
Koskinen hit back with what hurts most, the truth, providing a fairly simple rationale as to why the losses, and the team's current losing streak, don't fall exclusively on his shoulders.
”It’s not nice being thrown under the bus," Koskinen told Finnish reporter Tommi Seppala after Edmonton coach Dave Tippett crushed him in the post-game press conference for his role in the defeat. "I have to be better but at the same time we scored seven goals in my last six losses.
"I can’t score goals."
Mikko Koskinen on critics from Tippett, media: ”It’s not nice being thrown under the bus. I have to be better but at the same time we scored 7 goals in my last 6 losses. I can’t score goals.” #LetsGoOilers #NHL https://t.co/GGxX8EKJnI
— Tommi Seppälä (@TommiSeppala) January 5, 2022
Koskinen has undoubtedly been an issue for the Oilers this season and throughout his career with the franchise. Based on simple statistics, he is among the handful of lowest-performing starters in the league this season. His .900 save percentage and -6.08 GSAA are marks far below the league average and the sort of goaltending that can undermine results.
For what it's worth (and for a moment ignoring the irony of delivering the same sort of criticism he took exception to), Koskinen has a point: Edmonton's diminishing on-ice returns from an attacking standpoint have been equally —if not slightly more — damaging over the last month and throughout its current 12-game sample, which contains just two wins. Over that stretch, the Oilers' 2.39 goals per 60 minutes in all situations is the fourth-worst mark league-wide, while their total save percentage is the NHL's fifth-worst mark.
Just about every other metric points to positive regression ahead for the Oilers, who have stumbled into the second wild-card position despite a red-hot start.
While that's likely not Tippett's rationale, the Oilers coach tried his darnedest Wednesday to walk back the fiery comments he delivered, as if to try to preserve some semblance of unity and team. Tippett told reporters two days later that his circulated quotes on Koskinen — where he said Edmonton's goaltending "wasn't very good" and that his misplay on the opening goal was "a brutal mistake" — were taken out of context.
He apparently added that Koskinen "made some good saves" in the 4-1 loss.
Dave Tippett thinks his quote about Mikko Koskinen the other night was taken out of context. Points out he was asked by a reporter about the start of the game and adds that Koskinen made some good saves later on against #NYR
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 5, 2022
While on opposite ends of the spectrum, neither quote seems to be a particularly good look for Tippett, who might have the warmest coaching seat in the NHL at the moment. It seemed his frustration took the wheel after the Rangers loss and now he's being dishonest about his true feelings and intentions in response to the blowback.
Yo-yoing, Tippett's last two media availabilities each suggest that he's without a particularly strong grasp on the room and the direction of the team.
And nowadays it seems that a coach can rarely recover those things.
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