Mike Smith locked in as Oilers’ No. 1: ‘He is a leader and a goalie’

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Mike Smith locked in as Oilers’ No. 1: ‘He is a leader and a goalie’

March 2, 2020 5:40 pm

NASHVILLE, TN – The race is over, the contest closed.

Tonight’s starter, Mike Smith, is the Edmonton Oilers No. 1 goalie. Mikko Koskinen a solid No. 2 — full stop.

No bad start down the stretch or ugly giveaway is going to turn back the clock on a competition that quietly ended over the past few weeks.

Forget about age, or Koskinen’s wage. Not only has Smith been given two-thirds of the starts since Jan. 1, he’s given his team an 11-1-4 record since the calendar turned to 2020, and the kind of attitude that was on display when Leon Draisaitlhad this to say to a sold-out barn on the in-house, post-game interview Saturday:

“You guys are (expletive) phenomenal!”

Of all the one-year contracts that general manager Ken Holland signed last summer, Smith’s has been the most impactful — and not just because he’s stopping pucks. He’s given a head-shy organization a backbone, showing its young superstars how to carry themselves with some swagger.

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One of the greatest things about Kurt and all the people with KO is that they bring in guys like Barry Karn and all these different skating and skill people that come in and help us to develop. They care about us off the ice but they obviously have to care about us on the ice and they bring in people to work with us to help us be better and I think that’s special.

— Rocco Grimaldi

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