Right Back At It

Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
9 months ago
Coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t come out and call it a bag skate, but from the words “work day” scrawled on the whiteboard in the dressing room to the brisk pace on the ice at the rink on Sunday morning, there was no doubt that it was back to business for the Edmonton Oilers after the NHL all-star break.
The Oilers hit the break on a hot 7-1-1 roll, and with the first of four straight road games in Detroit against the Red Wings Tuesday, there was no time like Sunday to get right back up to speed – and that included all-star participants Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Stuart Skinner, back from festivities in Florida.
 At 28-18-4 for 60 points through 50 games, the Oilers games against the Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens provide them the chance to keep climbing the standings in the Pacific Division. All four opponents are out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture right now.
To that end, the Oilers can help themselves immensely by hitting the ground running instead of feeling their way back into things with 32 games remaining. So, you get what we had Sunday, with Woodcroft and his staff making sure their players got right back into their routine. There was no easing in.
“We’re going into a situation where other teams are in the same position, so it’s about whoever can find their game the quickest,” defenceman Darnell Nurse said.


Jan 28, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Leon Draisaitl (29) during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“I think we set a goal today of it being a work day and we told our guys, we were upfront right off the bat that we were going to get them up and down the rink today,” Woodcroft said. “When they walked in and looked at the board, they knew what was coming and I thought they did a good job.
“I think when you’re upfront with them, it allows them to get prepared for it before they step on the ice. We’re coming off this break the same way 31 other teams are coming off this break. Some teams are going to handle it great, and some won’t handle it as great. I liked what I saw in practice today, but we’re going to have to build on what was laid down today and we’ve got to just keep improving on a daily basis.”
A scrimmage at the end of the skate was completed with a three-on-three OT session and shootout. “I think there are different ways to get the work rate where it needs to be and we finished with something a little competitive there at the end,” Woodcroft said. “When you do that, the players usually up their intensity because there’s something on the line.
“I thought we got them up and down the rink today. I thought they gave us what we needed to get out of them. Tomorrow we’re going to look to build on that.”


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