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Nation Thoughts: 12 and 6 or 11 and 7

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Photo credit:EdmontonOilers.com/Andy Devlin
Liam Horrobin
6 months ago
The Jay Woodcroft era in Edmonton has been a revaluation.
The team is playing exceptionally better at five-on-five which has helped the goaltender exceed expectations and also helped the offence take another step forward. It’s something that looked like it was out of reach when Dave Tippett was behind the bench.
Another strategy we’ve seen ingested into the lineup is 11 forwards and seven defensemen. It’s a tactic Woodcroft would use in Bakersfield. At first, it seemed like more of an experiment due to injuries on the blue line. However, it’s worked extremely effectively and looks like it’s hard to stay.
Do you like it or do you prefer the traditional ways? 
Let’s take a look at what the Nation Thought:
 
The support is all in favour of Woody’s new Oilers. The players have figured out how to play under that system which has taken the team up a notch.
If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. 
 
Honestly, at first, I was unsure. I thought it was to strengthen the blue line and not expose anyone with the veteran players out. Now, it’s taking stress off the defenders making them more reliable.
A good example is Darnell Nurse. There was a stretch where he was making mistake after mistake and everyone was questioning his abilities. All of that was happening with only six defenders. We don’t see as much criticism with Kris Russell playing as the seventh defenseman and taking that pressure off the blueline as a whole.
Another good one is Duncan Keith. Take this stat for what it is, but he was -4 against Minnesota and had a horrendous game. Over a week later, he goes +5 against the Dallas Stars playing on a seven-man blueline. Seems like too much of a coincidence to be one. 
The forwards benefit from it too. The lower-end forwards like @Zack Kassian, @Ryan McLeod, and @Devin Shore get more time than Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid which makes them more effective. Kassian said only a couple of games ago that he finds that he’s playing good hockey right now, which is a direct impact of the new system. 
One last point is what happened last night against the Colorado Avalanche. @Darnell Nurse gets injured and we are down to six defenders. No problem. Russell moves onto a regular pairing and everything operates normally. 
The positives out way the negatives. Maybe it doesn’t work on every team but the Oilers are a different beast when they play 11 and 7. 
It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the postseason, but I’ve got a strong feeling Woodcroft sticks to his guns and goes with what works.

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