Monday Mailbag – How has your opinion on Kris Knoblauch changed since he was first hired?

Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
20 days ago
Welcome to a fresh Mailbag, dearest Citizens, that is geared up to help keep you updated on all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re discussing Mattias Ekholm as a #1 d-man, impressions on Kris Knoblauch, experience in the post-season, and more. If you’ve 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.
Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch looks on against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1) Rahsaan asks – We’re almost through the regular season, and I wonder how everyone’s opinion of Kris Knoblauch has changed since he first arrived? What did you learn about his coaching style that you didn’t know when he first got here?
Jason Gregor:
I didn’t know much. I’ve appreciated how direct he is and how he isn’t locked into what he does. He also focuses on getting all players involved and he shows he believes in all of them as he will play his fourth line and third pairs against top lines and not shy away from it.
I’m interested to see how he approaches the playoffs.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I give him and Paul Coffey a lot of credit for the turnaround this season but if I’m being totally honest, I’m not sure how much of a difference there is between Knoblauch and Woodcroft. They handle things a little bit differently, but they do have some similar tendencies. They like going to McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line and there are questions about how they use the depth. I do like how even keel Knoblauch seems to be though and I think that helps this group.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect a whole lot at the time because of how shocked I was that Jay Woodcroft was let go. Over the past few months, I’ve learned to appreciate Knoblauch’s calm demeanour regardless of the situation, and I think that’s a trait this team desperately needed in that moment.
Apr 10, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by defensemen Mattias Ekholm (14) during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2) An Oilers fan in Van asks – Mattias Ekholm is playing spectacular hockey these days at both ends of the rink, and I’m wondering if the writers would consider him a true number one defenceman?
Jason Gregor:
He is playing like one this season. He hasn’t been one prior, but he’s been a top pair defender for many years.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think he is absolutely a legitimate top pairing defenseman. Him and Bouchard compliment each other so well. I don’t think he’s a true number one because honestly, I think there are only a handful of those in the entire league. But you can win a Stanley Cup with Ekholm on your top pairing.
He’s a top pairing d-man for sure. He defends, he hits, he’s hard to play against, and he’s putting up points at a better clip than I ever expected. The shoe fits.
May 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) reacts with teammates after being defeated by the Vegas Golden Knights of the third period in game six of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
3) David asks – How much, if at all, do you think the playoff experience the Oilers have gained over the last couple of springs will factor into the 2024 postseason?
Jason Gregor:
I think it will help. History shows many teams lose before they win. Not all of course, but many. However, losing doesn’t guarantee a Cup. I would be surprised if the Oilers lost by getting beat soundly like they did to Colorado and Vegas. I think they have learned to be more consistent defensively and that should help them in the playoffs.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think it will be big for a guy like Stuart Skinner, who is heading into his second Stanley Cup Playoffs. There should be less jitters the second time around and he’s now had another full season of being a starter under his belt, so he should be better prepared. I think for some of the more veteran players, there should be no surprises this time around.
I think it will be important for all of the players to look back at their time in the playoffs and remember what they’ve done well and what they haven’t. No longer is this a young hockey team. They’re a veteran group that has been to the Western Conference Finals and now it’s time to put it all together.
4) Harold asks – If you were to describe the 2023-24 Oilers season using only a movie title, what would it be and why?
Jason Gregor:
Unfinished Business. The Oilers believe they are good and can win. This season is only just entering the most important phase.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Inception. Because it made zero sense.
The Lion King. Things looked pretty grim early on, but after a lot of personal group and help from friends, the boys battle through adversity to come back stronger than ever.
Apr 10, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by defensemen Mattias Ekholm (14) during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place.
5) Ed M. asks – I write this on Wednesday just before the Vegas game as the Oil finish the year with six mostly meaningless games. Since the start from hell the Oilers have been the best or very close to the best team in the NHL. But if one reads this site, one might think they are floundering like the Flames.
Nurse is awful, Ceci is even worse, Bouchard, Drai, and Kane are all lazy, and Nuge is a wimp who never scores, and on it goes.
As LD might say, what makes the Oiler fans so “pissy?”
Jason Gregor:
I believe the vast majority of fans like the Oilers. There is a small minority of vocal naysayers, and those comments garner more attention. It is an odd trait in humankind where people are more likely to express concern and anger than joy and excitement.
I hear and read from many who are high on the Oilers, but those comments seem to get overlooked more.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Expectations. This team is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and that makes some fans expect perfection when the reality is, all the elite teams in the NHL have flaws and they all go through rough patches. The Oilers flaws and rough patches are just obviously more noticeable for the fans who watch every one of the teams games and only read about them.
Heavy lies the crown. People expect this team to win, and that brings plenty of mood swings over the course of a season.


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