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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Let’s talk about the flooding at Rogers Place

Good morning, Nation! As always, the Monday mailbag is back and we’re answering the questions you’ve always wanted to know about the Oilers, the NHL, and life in general. Each week, our panel of expert life coaches dive into the depths of their brains to give you every nugget of wisdom that their brains could muster and all for the low low price of absolutely nothing at all. As always, this feature depends on you guys so I need you to submit your questions. If you have something you’d like to know you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. With that out of the way, it’s time to learn something. Enjoy.

1) Clay asks – How big are your concerns (if any) regarding the flooding at Rogers Place and its ability to act as the hub for the playoffs that are set to kick off later this month?

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Jason Gregor:

None. It impacted Ford Hall and the front entrance on 104 ave and there was some slight flooding into the Oilers weight room. It will not impact their ability to host the event. The biggest issue was electrical, so there will be a financial cost to fix that, but mainly it is just another challenge of life in 2020.

Robin Brownlee:

No concerns. The OEG has already indicated water damage to Ford Hall and a couple of other areas won’t impact the games.

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Cam Lewis:

It was mostly just another “oh man, 2020 is cursed” moment. I don’t think there’ll be any actual issue with executing games because of it.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I have no concerns about it at all. Seems like they have it all taken care of. Honestly, people who were saying that it could change the leagues plans were just over-reacting.

Nation Dan:

The night it happened I was actually out getting food with the family when the storm hit and was caught in it when I saw the video pop up. Posted it and the tweet got picked up by so many outlets. It was weird seeing people freak out like it meant that hockey was cancelled, and I get that if you’re not familiar with Rogers. For anyone who has walked into that hall, other than some humidity inside the arena, I am sure nothing has been affected for RTP.

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Baggedmilk:

My first thoughts were “oh shit” and “I hope it’s not flooding near the ice.” Thankfully, it seems like the damage was isolated to a couple of areas away from the playing surface and that they’ll be able to get it fixed in time so we won’t have to find a new hub city, but this was a little too close for comfort. My third thought was probably, “how does this happen to a brand new arena?” I’m sure someone got a strongly worded email the next morning. As for my concerns, I don’t really have many in terms of whether or not the arena is fit to play or not. *wink*

Feb 29, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Andreas Athanasiou (28) skates during warmup against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Clare asks – Was anyone else a little bit surprised to Andreas Athanasiou slotted in beside Draisaitl and Yamamoto to start off training camp? Is there a better fit beside those two?

Jason Gregor:

Yes, RNH is a better fit, but it also makes sense to have him start with McDavid so he has a scoring threat on his line. I think Tippett did it to see how AA would react and maybe gain some confidence. You probably could play Ennis and Yamo on the same line against a team like Chicago, who isn’t big or physical, but unlikely against heavier teams. James Neal and Chiasson have played a lot together, so I understand why Tippett tried AA with Draisaitl. I think the left-wingers will change lines more than C or RWs will.

Robin Brownlee:

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Dave Tippett has options in the top six, so it’s no surprise. I expect we’ll see Connor McDavid with Zack Kassian and Draisaitl with Yamamoto and most likely RNH on the left side when the games begin. Athanasiou or Tyler Ennis seem the best bets to fit the left side with McDavid.

Cam Lewis:

I have a hard time with the idea of splitting up RNH, Draisaitl, and Yamamoto given how amazing they were together in the second half of the season. I’ve always wanted to see AA get consistent playing time alongside McDavid but I think the left wings will move around a bit because RNH has chemistry with McDavid and both Tyler Ennis and James Neal could play in the top-six.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I like having Nugent-Hopkins with that line. That trio was insanely productive during the regular season and in a short series, I’d like to see Tippett stick with what worked best. With that being said, I like the speed of Athanasiou with the playmaking of Draisaitl. I think Athanasiou could use his speed to push defensemen back off the rush and that could just create more time and space for Draisaitl to work his magic. I could see that line clicking. Also, giving McDavid a winger like Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t hurt.

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Nation Dan:

I don’t read much into training camp lines but if lightning can be caught in a bottle and those lines seem to click, it’s a nice back up to the Nuge/Neon Leon/Honey Badger line that was so so good down the stretch.

Baggedmilk:

I was a little bit surprised but, at the same time, I think Athanasiou has the skill to play in a top-six role. Obviously, none of these line combos are written in ink so we’ll have to see how he performs with the opportunity. If he doesn’t, you know that it won’t be long before Tippett replaces him with someone else.

Mar 3, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones (82) in action during the game between the Stars and the Oilers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

3) Stephen asks – What is your opinion on the blanket “unfit to play” terminology that the NHL is going with in regards to player health during training camp? Considering this phrase can cover many things, isn’t it in the interest of public of health and safety to accurate report on why players are not on the ice?

Jason Gregor:

How is it in the best interest of public health and safety? We don’t know the names of people in society who have COVID. The players aren’t out and about. I think the NHL not releasing names in conjunction with positive tests is a sign that people are overly sensitive to COVID. For some, it is looked upon as a bad thing, which is too bad. I don’t believe it is and I respected Caleb Jones for coming out saying he had tested positive and now it is a non-story. I have not been a fan of injury secrecy of the NHL for years, so I wasn’t surprised by this, but the fact the league announced there were 30 players tested positive it just led to you know most of who had tested positive as they were either absent from the ice, or skating after the main group.

Robin Brownlee:

How does the unfit to play term impact public health and safety? If a player tests positive for COVID-19 he will follow protocols in place, as Caleb Jones and others have, whether his status is made public or not. There’s no impact to you and I.

Cam Lewis:

It’s a sticky issue because while it’s unethical to be reporting somebody’s medical information, it also ultimately just leads to all of us online doing guess-work as to who’s sick or who’s got an injury. It’s a weird situation.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m 50/50 on it. I think it creates a lot more speculation but at the same time, if the players want the info to stay private, that’s their right. So who am I to argue against it?

Nation Dan:

This is a global pandemic and if you are diagnosed with the virus you have to (and the health authority does it with you) trace back footsteps for 14 days your possible contacts. That’s a lot for one person to have to do and so I understand not wanting the world to know you have the virus before everyone you have been in contact with does. These are different times and I respect not wanting that public before you have a chance to inform people.

Baggedmilk:

My problem with it the phrase is that it leaves so much room for guesswork and speculation. Seeing as we’re all living through this pandemic together, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be a little more transparent given the circumstances.

Sep 28, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Joakim Nygard (10) against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome.

4) Eric asks – Should the NHL allow teams to play all 31 skaters in the exhibition game so that everyone can get their legs and allow coaches to see who to start? If not, how will Tippet use the exhibition game? Will he use it to see which players will fill out the bottom six e.g Haas, Jujar, Nygard, Neal, or Russell, meaning McDavid and Drai will sit out to make space. Or will he run his starting roster and the risk of having players like Haas and Nygard be cold?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see much risk in having your 13th and 14th forwards cold. I don’t see any way McDavid and Draisaitl don’t play. They will want to feel the puck and experience game speed before the playoffs. If they don’t play in the exhibition game they will have gone almost five months without playing a game. I’d be stunned if they don’t play. Most teams will dress their expected starting lineups for the playoffs. The only ones who don’t might be the eight seeding teams who have three games to get ready.

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Robin Brownlee:

No. It’s unmanageable to play 31 skaters in a game. It makes more sense to play the projected starting roster, or close to it, against Calgary. That’s where you get your starting roster ready at game speed.

Cam Lewis:

I would probably ice the lineup that I’m planning to roll for Game 1 of the playoffs in the warm-up game. The reality is a few players are going to be cold, but everyone is in the same boat.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I wouldn’t overthink it if I was Tippett. These guys haven’t played in an actual game in a very long time so I like the idea of playing your regular line-up and going into that game against Calgary with the mindset that it’s a meaningful game. If things start to get chippy or if one team is running away with it, maybe you take some minutes away from McDavid and Draisaitl to be safe, but I think the team’s best players need some reps in a real game. As for dressing all 31 players, there isn’t enough room on the bench to do that.

Nation Dan:

No different than playoffs for me. Sometimes your extra guys have to come in with only practice for weeks on end. I don’t mind the idea, but I also don’t think it’s as big of a deal.

Baggedmilk:

I can see what you’re getting at here but it won’t happen. The extra players are going to have to figure out a way to stay ready regardless of whether they get into that game or not.

Mar 5, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) scores against Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

5) Scott asks – In most years, teams have a couple of days to prep for their playoff opponents. This year teams can spend their whole training camp focusing on one team. What impact, if any, will this extra prep time have on the playoffs?

Jason Gregor:

It will allow coaches to look at more video, but when I asked Tippett about the extra time he said it was more about getting his team ready after a break. I think that is partially true, but of course, he and the Hawks coaches are looking at tendencies more. What else did they have to do for the past two months.. haha.

Robin Brownlee:

No impact that I can see. Teams spend the vast majority of preparation time focusing on what they do, not on their opponents. Game-planning for what the other team does — breakouts, forecheck etc — is based on a lot of video. There are few surprises when it comes to that or line combinations, that kind of thing. While teams have far more time to get ready this year because of the circumstances, the usual preparation time between the end of the regular season is 4-5 days. I don’t recall a team having just a couple of days to get ready for a first-round opponent.

Cam Lewis:

I’m not really sure how much you can prepare for a playoff series in this tournament compared to regular years. Is watched tape and looking at stats from the Blackhawks’ regular-season going to give you a perfect idea of how they’re going to look after four months off with multiple players healed from various injuries? The best thing teams can do, in my mind, is worry about the things they can control, like getting their players up to speed to come flying out of the gate.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I don’t think it will have any. Yes, team’s usually only have a few days to prep for their opponents but they still have the experience of playing them a few times during the season and watching what they’ve done up to that point in the playoffs. I don’t think the extra prep time during training camps is going to be spent scouting the opposition even more, it’ll be spent making sure your own team is fully up to speed.

Nation Dan:

Same amount of prep is happening on the other side of the ledger too. Doesn’t change much for me. I think both teams will be ready for this round and the next and so on.

Baggedmilk:

I think everyone will be a little bit more prepared for what the opponent will throw at them system-wise, but I don’t necessarily believe that it will have a huge impact on the final outcome. The better team that makes the fewest mistakes will win the series.

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