Happy New Year, Nation! As always, I’ve got a brand new Mailbag set and ready to help you get your Monday started and also to make sense of everything that’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re talking about the New Years Resolutions, line combos, replacing Dave Tippett, and more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
1) Oilers fan in Van asks – A new year means a new round of New Year’s Resolutions and I’m wondering what everyone would like to see the Oilers improve upon in 2022?
Robin Brownlee:
Stop chasing games. Score first.
Jason Gregor:
Scoring first. Ridiculous they’ve scored first the fewest of any team in the NHL and only four times in their past 23 games.
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Cam Lewis:
I’d like for the organization to get up to speed with the rest of the world in 2022. Too many dinosaurs have them lagging behind.
Zach Laing:
It’s for more competency throughout the lineup. The Oilers top guns are rolling on most nights, but the depth pieces throughout the roster, for the most part, have underperformed for a while.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Start games on time! This team should be coming out of the gates flying every single game and somehow, they do pretty much the exact opposite. It’s brutal and it’s a big reason why they keep losing games. Also, I want Holland to get aggressive at the deadline and the team to get more aggressive on the ice.
Baggedmilk:
SHOOOOOOOT!
Feb 4, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Edmonton Oilers head ocahc Dave Tippett looks on prior to a game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
2) @iamtaylorsmith asks – GM’s have changed, Coaches have changed, players have changed… but this team always falls flat in December. What is it? Is it hard to play hockey in Edmonton in December? The Flames struggle in Dec too. Is it the weather?
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Robin Brownlee:
Unless they’re playing outside, the weather has zero impact. Teams don’t win or lose based on what date it is even if there might be patterns of inconsistency that make it look that way.
Jason Gregor:
Between 2017-2020 they went 26-22-8 in December. Not great, but they were 7-2-5, 7-5-1, 6-7-1 and 5-8-1. A bit below the rest of the months, but not massively different. I have no idea why other than they have been rather inconsistent.
Cam Lewis:
They struggle during the Dog Days of Winter because their lack of depth catches up with them. The core players can only carry the whole team for so long.
Zach Laing:
2021-22: 3-7-2
2019-20: 5-8-1
2018-19: 6-7-1
2017-18: 7-5-1
2016-17: 7-2-5
Maybe it’s something in the water?
Tyler Yaremchuk:
That is a bit of an odd trend. I’m not sure why, but hopefully this team can turn it around just like they did in early 2020. They’re barely holding onto the last playoff spot in the Western Conference so a nice winning streak would be welcomed right now.
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Baggedmilk:
The only thing I can think of is that the boys get too excited for Santa. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
Mar 15, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
3) @oilcaholic asks – Should Dave Tippett try playing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the third line centre?
Robin Brownlee:
I like him better in the top six — once he’s fit to play again. RNH is one of those versatile players who can give a coach a lot of options. Third-line centre is one of them but then what do the top two lines look like?
Jason Gregor:
Not until they team has more top-six wingers. When they have four legit top-six wingers, RNH would be an ideal third line centre. He doesn’t produce enough 5×5 to be a top-six winger long-term in Edmonton, but until they have suitable replacements he will remain there I suspect.
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Cam Lewis:
I would try Ryan McLeod there first. He’s earned more ice time.
Zach Laing:
The biggest issue with him at C is he struggles mightily in the faceoff circle and that’s why he isn’t there anymore.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Yes. This team needs to do something to spark things and if you move Ryan McLeod to the wing and Zack Kassian is healthy, then you actually might have the wing depth to put together three decent scoring lines. Tippett should try this.
Baggedmilk:
I’ve always wanted to see what the lineup would be like with McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nuge at centre but I don’t think there are enough quality winger options to make it work.
Oct 22, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett looks on in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
4) Gregg asks – Looking for everyone’s thoughts on the growing segment of Oilers fans that are looking for a coaching change? Is Dave Tippett the right voice for this team?
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Robin Brownlee:
Did any of the people blaming Tippett for the tough stretch now and calling for him to be fired give him credit when the team was playing at a .750 clip for the first 20 games? No, of course not, and that’s OK because my sense is that in many cases coaches get too much credit when things are rolling and too much blame when the team hits the ditch. The players, the roster, carry far more weight. I get it that fans have tolerated mostly bad and often brutal results here for too long and are frustrated, but tell me what difference repeatedly firing the coach as a cure-all has made here over the last decade in terms of results. Tippett has his shortcomings, but he’s not the primary problem.
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Jason Gregor:
Since Tippett arrived the Oilers have the 11th most points in the NHL. If you believe they have underachieved with the roster they have then you can say a new coach will help. But considering the roster he’s been given, I think Tippett has been fine. He isn’t perfect. Some of his choices are worth debating, but I don’t believe a coach will magically make the bottom six instantly better, or the goaltending more consistent or healthy.
Cam Lewis:
Meh. Tippett has his flaws and seems to favour playing some players who don’t deserve it over others who could potentially do better and his systems seem quite stale, but the reason the team is struggling is the roster. The depth is just so weak. If Tippett does get sacked, I would hope that Jay Woodcroft is promoted. Maybe he can get more out of players like Tyler Benson and Brendan Perlini, some internal development would go a long way.
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Zach Laing:
I struggle with this one quite a bit. In the big picture, Dave Tippett hasn’t won a game behind the Oilers bench in a month. On the other hand, he’s still gotten more out of the Oilers at times than other coaches before him, but he still got nothing out of the team against Winnipeg in the playoffs last year
It’s hard to look at what Vancouver’s doing under Bruce Boudreau and not feel envious of what they’ve accomplished.
Tippett’s contract is up at the end of this season. If the Oilers don’t feel like he’s the guy in the future beyond this one, why not try to light a spark under the team you’ve got?
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I am starting to become more and more convinced that this team needs to make a coaching change. They have the pieces to be better than they currently are and this is far from a small cold streak. There are serious concerns with the way this team is playing and some of the decisions that Dave Tippett continues to make are very puzzling.
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Baggedmilk:
I can definitely understand why folks think it’s time for a new head coach, but I just don’t think Ken Holland will do it. He’s never fired a coach in-season before and I doubt he starts now with Tippett. We’ll see.
Dec 16, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13) celebrates a first period goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5) Anne asks – What is an underappreciated Oilers story from this past year that you felt deserved more attention?
Robin Brownlee:
The results and record this team has despite missing its starting goaltender for most of the season and playing without important members of the blueline for other stretches. It’s remarkable they’re 18-12-2. And more Bison King works as well.
Jason Gregor:
Their 5×5 goals against. It has been an issue for years and hasn’t improved much. Until it does it will be difficult for them to truly compete.
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Cam Lewis:
This is a tough question because I feel like nothing happens around these parts that doesn’t get attention because everything is under a microscope. One thing I’m surprised wasn’t talked about more was the Oilers being ranked as Forbes’ seventh most valuable franchise. Imagine telling someone that would be the case in 2001?
Tyler Yaremchuk:
This is a great question and really made me think. I thought having fans return at the start of the year wasn’t hyped up enough and being in the crowd for some of the really exciting wins this season was awesome. It’s hard to say something didn’t get enough attention because this website and our jobs are dedicated to covering every little thing about this team. How about this: why did no one investigate the fact that Hunter The Lynx was nowhere to be found during the shortened 2021 season??? THIS MUST BE ANSWERED! WHERE DID HE GO?
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Baggedmilk:
I will never get tired of Jesse Puljujarvi making this city fall in love with him even though it seemed impossible only a few years ago.

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