The Edmonton Oilers were in many ways embarrassed by the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Qualifying Round series, especially if you consider the fact that the Oilers should in theory have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs while playing in their very own building.
For most people watching the game there was a glaring problem between the pipes for the Oilers with veteran netminder Mike Smith having what can only be described as an awful playoff performance. Smith has been relatively inconsistent as of late, especially over the last few seasons of his NHL career, but his performance on Saturday was bad even by those standards. The Blackhawks torched smith for a whopping 5 goals in the first two periods of play, resulting in smith finishing the game with a comical 11.31 goals against average and an abysmal .783 save percentage.Those are horrific numbers in the playoffs and should almost certainly result in your goalie being sat in the following game of the series, but that may not be the case here.
On Sunday Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett made some comments that appear to have riled up a segment of the Oilers fan base, specifically as it pertains to Smith's performance in Game 1. Unbelievably Tippett said that he thought both of his goaltenders performed fine in the contest and even pointed to the fact that Smith had made some big saves before inevitably collapsing. The biggest problem with his comments however stemmed from the fact that Tippett said he was undecided on who his starter for Game 2 would be.
Here's a sample of some of the reactions to this news:
One Oilers fan said he would tune out of the game entirely if Smith was the starter in Game 2.
Another called for Tippett to be fired for the comments, perhaps a bit extreme.
Perhaps the funniest response was from a Blackhawks fan encouraging Tippett to go back to Smith for a second game.
It is all quite funny but if we are being real here Tippett would be hard pressed to justify going back to Smith in Game 2. Although he only entered the game in relief of Smith, Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen was outstanding in the second half of the game, stopping 18 of 19 shots he faced for a .947 save percentage and a 1.95 goals against average. I suspect Tippett is merely trying to use a little gamesmanship here while also preserving the confidence of Smith in case he needs the veteran later in the playoffs, however if he does start Smith for Game 2 I think the Oilers fan base will be justified in their outrage.