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Monday Mailbag – First thoughts on Jay Woodcroft replacing Dave Tippett?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
9 months ago
Happy Monday, everybody! As always, I’ve got a brand new Mailbag set and ready to help you get your week started and also to make sense of everything that’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re talking about reasonable expectations for Evander Kane, resting star players down the stretch, and more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Oct 1, 2021; Everett, Washington, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett watches play against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Angel of the Winds Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
1) Blake asks – First thoughts on Dave Tippett getting fired and Jay Woodcroft coming in?
Robin Brownlee:
Had to be done. Too early to judge what difference we’ll see after the early bounce is over. Woodcroft strikes me as a sharp guy.
Jason Gregor:
Not a huge surprise. Oilers were 7-13-3 in their last 23 under Tippett. It isn’t only the coach’s fault, but it was his problem.
Cam Lewis:
I’m not sure Dave Tippett was the reason the Oilers are where they are, but it was also very clear that he wasn’t going to be the one to get them to achieve anything more. Jay Woodcroft has done excellent work in Bakersfield and absolutely deserved a chance at the NHL level.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
It needed to happen. The team just never seemed to snap out of the funk that started in December. Even when they were winning, they looked uninspired and didn’t play with a lot of energy. This group needed a spark. Simple as that.
Baggedmilk:
From where I’m watching, the team needed a new voice because they looked incredibly flat over the last two months and it truly seemed like they were tuning Tippett out. Obviously, I don’t know that since I’m nowhere near the room but I don’t think it’s a bad guess based on how the team was playing on a nightly basis.
2) Ed asks – What do you think the Oil will need to do through the remainder of the season for Woodcroft to be the coach in September?
Robin Brownlee:
Make the playoffs. Win a round or two. That’s a start.
Jason Gregor:
Make the playoffs, and have a solid showing in playoffs. A series win would guarantee he returns, but even if they lose, but play well he likely is back.
Cam Lewis:
It’s hard to say. If the team shows improvement the rest of the way but misses out, can you blame Woodcroft, who was given less than half of the season to get them in? If the Oilers do miss, will Ken Holland even be around to decide whether Woodcroft remains behind the bench? If they get in, I imagine it’s all but a guarantee Woodcroft is the guy next season and beyond.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Make the playoffs. If they win a round then it’s a lock that Woodcroft gets the job in my opinion but even if they just get in, I like his chances.
Baggedmilk:
Make the playoffs is an absolute must.
3) Claire asks – Now that he’s fired a coach, how much pressure do you think is on Ken Holland to make other moves in an attempt to turn this thing around?
Robin Brownlee:
He has to see how/if the team responds to the coaching change. I don’t think there’s any real pressure with Holland. He can walk away into the sunset anytime he wants. With him, it’s more a matter of personal pride than pressure.
Jason Gregor:
Not much more. Their goal was always to be a playoff team. They have five weeks to put themselves in a good position and I’d they are I think he will look to add a player or two.
Cam Lewis:
The big pressure is finding a goaltender. Holland gambled on a 39-year-old to get the job done in net and it hasn’t worked out. Unfortunately he now has to solve the problem mid-season, which obviously isn’t easy.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
With the coaching change and the Evander Kane signing, I think Holland needs to seriously look at moving this year’s first-round pick. Give this group a chance to go on a real run.
Baggedmilk:
I think the pressure is still on for him to find a goalie because making that bet to bring back the same duo is a big reason we are where we are. I don’t think goaltending is the entire reason for the Oilers’ struggles, but the inconsistency from game to game cannot be overlooked either.
Feb 11, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal by forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13) against the New York Islanders during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4) @theredman93 asks – At this point, is just making it to the playoffs this season going to be a win for Woodcroft, and be enough to be put in serious consideration to become the full-time head coach?
Robin Brownlee:
Like I said above, make the playoffs. Win a round or two.
Jason Gregor:
Probably. Unless they get obliterated in the first round.
Cam Lewis:
Same as above. If he gets the team into the playoffs given the position he inherited, that’s a big win, and it’ll earn him the role moving forward. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s difficult to say who will even be calling the shots. In my opinion, Woodcroft has been good enough at the AHL level to justify him being the long-term coach regardless, so long as the team doesn’t totally implode the rest of the way.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Like I said in question two, I do think it would be enough for him to keep the job. The organization clearly likes him enough dating back to when they made the decision to bring him down to Bakersfield and if they get into the playoffs, I think he keeps the gig.
Baggedmilk:
I think Woodcroft needs to show that he can handle an NHL bench and get the players to buy into what he’s selling. Not only do the Oilers need to make the playoffs, but Woodcroft needs to show that he can bob and weave when needed because I don’t think we got that flexibility from the last guy.
5) Taylor asks – Having a new coach in place is one thing, but that won’t change the personnel the Oilers have on their roster or how many easy goals they’re giving up. What is the biggest change you expect now that the Oilers have given the keys to Jay Woodcroft?
Robin Brownlee:
How do you know a new coach won’t change how many easy goals they give up? Looking to see how long Woodcroft uses McDavid, Draisaitl, and RNH as centres. Also waiting to see how he uses Smith and Skinner in tandem.
Jason Gregor:
More structure in the neutral and defensive zone. Dave Manson has always coached his defence to be aggressive dating back to his time in Prince Albert. I expect Oilers will be much harder in front of their net.
Cam Lewis:
A few things. We’ll see more internal development at the NHL level. Young players will be trusted more and they’ll be given more room for error to make mistakes. Woodcroft’s background is as a video coach so there’ll be a major emphasis on learning and improving. I think we’ll also see the team operate with more of an offence-oriented system, pushing forward rather than sitting back and waiting.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Pressure the opposition more aggressively at their own blue line and change the way they play in the neutral zone to allow less odd-man rushes and force more turnovers.
Baggedmilk:
I’m expecting him to change his roster deployment significantly. We already saw him run with 11 forwards and seven defencemen against the Islanders and that makes me think we’re going to see some different combos than we have over the first half of the year.

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