After many months of libel and slander towards him, Mikko Koskinen has risen from the ashes and his redemption arc is well underway.
Were you a Mikko Koskinen hater? If you were I don’t blame you. Never in my life have I seen a coach throw his goalie under the bus as Dave Tippett did with Mikko Koskinen. This paired with his early-season struggles got him a lot of hate from parts of the fanbase and many influential members of the media, and made it seem like his career in Edmonton was over. In his unwavering stubbornness though, Ken Holland remained confident that Mike Smith was his guy, and amidst his recent struggles and injuries, Koski has stepped in and flourished.
Dating back to late January, Mikko is 9-1-2 in his last twelve starts with a 0.927 save percentage. Watching him play, there isn’t any notable change mechanically or in how he approaches the game, but the difference seems pretty clear. He’s just more confident now. Now that much of the hate has subsided, he seems far more comfortable between the pipes, and with every good game he plays. He hasn’t just been playing well though, in certain games, he’s been absolutely lights out, and has won the game for the Oilers (most notably the Derek Ryan hat trick game against the Panthers).
Entering this season, Koskinen was really the only bad contract remaining from the Chiarelli era, and while it can be debated whether he’s worth the money he’s being paid, there’s no doubt that he’s been integral in keeping the Oilers in the playoff hunt. Over the course of just a few months, Mikko Koskinen has gone from the verge of being run out of Edmonton, to playing just as well as anyone could’ve hoped for.
If there’s one lesson to learn from all this, I believe it’s that when a coach who’s on the hot seat blames a goalie for losses, it probably isn’t the goalies’ fault.