Mirror, mirror on the wall…
Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
Jay Woodcroft hasn’t been prone to having a hair-trigger when it comes to criticizing his players in the time he’s spent behind the bench with the Edmonton Oilers.
That’s simply not his style, but sometimes patience and positivity only go so far. Woodcroft’s words had more bite than usual after Sunday’s 6-5 overtime loss to Colorado in a rematch of the 2022 Western Conference final series between the teams in which the Avalanche swept the Oilers 4-0 last spring.
Having watched his Oilers blow a three-goal lead and fritter away a point for the second time in 48 hours on the heels of a 5-4 loss to the New York Rangers in a shootout, Woodcroft was not of the mind to accentuate the positive or strain his eyeballs looking for the silver lining after losing to the Stanley Cup champs in a game they should have won.
Up 3-0 before the halfway mark of the second period and leading 5-3 four minutes into the third period before the Avs scored three straight goals, including the winner by Mikko Rantanen in OT, the Oilers again sacked themselves with moments of slack defensive play and inattention to detail. Those are elements teams have to eliminate from their game if they’re serious about contending for a Stanley Cup.
WHAT HE SAID
Jun 6, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft reacts during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
“Normally I might dress it up and say it’s good to get a point, but I’ve got to say that was utterly disappointing for us,” Woodcroft said after the Oilers lost for the fourth consecutive game – twice in shootouts and once in OT.
“The way we handled some things in the third period there, I know we can defend a lot better than we did. Ultimately, it cost us getting the second point. We’ll take the point and move on, but to dress it up any other way other than disappointing would be not honest.”
The Oilers have allowed 13 goals in regulation time in their last three losses, including five in Denver. You don’t beat the defending champs, or anybody for that matter, that way. The Oilers allowed six goals in a 6-2 loss to Montreal Feb. 12 to begin this four-game stretch of slippage. At 9-1-5 in their last 15 games, have earned 23 of a possible 30 points, but with 57 games in the books and the stretch drive approaching the details matter.
“It’s not conducive to the type of hockey that gets played in the month of May and early in the month of June,” Woodcroft said. “It’s important we look in the mirror here and determine how we’re going to try and win games.
“There were a lot of good things in that game, especially offensively. We got contributions up and down the line-up, but to dress it up as anything other than disappointing that we didn’t defend the right way down the stretch would be false.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Rolling along at 7-0-1 in the final eight games before the all-star break, the Oilers are 2-1-4 since then as the Philadelphia Flyers come calling at Rogers Place on Tuesday. The last time the Oilers saw the Flyers, they lost 2-1 in a shootout Feb. 9 in Philadelphia. Woodcroft hasn’t seen his team play as well defensively since then. That has to change.
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