Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Is Jay Woodcroft an Adams candidate?
10 months ago
I was a little bit surprised that Edmonton Oilers’ coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t fare better in voting for the 2022 Jack Adams Award as coach of the year last season. He finished tied for 12th in voting by broadcasters after taking the bench from Dave Tippett after 44 games and compiling a gaudy 26-9-3 record (.724).
Mind you, I wasn’t as puzzled then as when Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames, who won the 2022 Adams Award, was named runner-up to Woodcroft as the NHL’s most handsome coach based on the results compiled by the app Golden Ratio Face – I poop you not – but I was surprised nonetheless. A fine coach is Sutter, but handsome?
Despite that dazzling points percentage, Woodcroft managed just five points in the polling, based on one second-place vote and two third-place ballots on the way to leading the Oilers to the Western Conference final, where they were swept by Colorado. Sutter won in a waltz with 353 voting points. I think the Adams would be more legit if voting was based on playoffs as well as the regular season, but I digress.
Anyway, with Woodcroft and the Oilers facing Los Angeles tonight with long-time mentor Todd McLellan behind the Kings bench, my mind turned to coaching again. At 45-23-9 (.643) for 99 points this season – one point back of the Kings — and 71-32-12 (.670) overall in 115 games since being promoted from Bakersfield, where might Woodcroft stack up right now?
GETTING READY FOR GAME 83
With five games to play, we know the Oilers are in the playoffs. The question is where they’ll finish and who they’ll play in the first round. We’ll get more answers tonight as Woodcroft and McLellan meet again. They have history dating back to 2005-06 with the Detroit Red Wings team that was upset by the Oilers in the first round. McLellan was an assistant on Mike Babcock’s staff back then and Woodcroft was his video coach.
Further down the road, as we know, Woodcroft was an assistant under McLellan for stints in San Jose and Edmonton. There’s a lot of history between the two of them. Might we see a rematch of the first-round playoff meeting of the teams last season in which the Oilers prevailed in seven games?
I like that match-up style-wise, but first things first. The Oilers blanked the Kings 2-0 in the most recent meeting between the teams on March 30. The Kings won the first two meetings of the season, 6-3- and 3-1. Since the 6-3 loss to LA Jan. 9, the Oilers have been rolling along like a runaway train, going 24-5-6.
“We should expect two very good hockey teams that are going to play hard. May the best team win,” Woodcroft said before jumping a jet to Tinseltown. “Our focus is directly in front of us and that tonight is an excellent team that’s in our way. That’s the way we look at it. We better be ready because I know they will be.”
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