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HomeSports NewsGrading Jay Woodcroft’s First Part-Season as Oilers’ Head Trainer

Grading Jay Woodcroft’s First Part-Season as Oilers’ Head Trainer


Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers seem to be remaining in on a freelance extension for head trainer Jay Woodcroft. He took over mid-season and became their season round, taking them to the Western Convention Ultimate for the primary time since 2006. Woodcroft is likely one of the maximum essential items that the Oilers will have to convey again, as he did many stuff at the back of the bench that fanatics haven’t noticed in a very long time.

Having a ton of good fortune for the Bakersfield Condors, the Oilers’ American Hockey League (AHL) associate, he used to be given the reins to take the Oilers to new heights as they in the end were given a tender voice with a brand new faculty frame of mind. Woodcroft helped take the crew from out of the playoffs to the Convention Ultimate after going 26-9-3 to near out the common season.

Woodcroft’s Clever Participant Utilization

Once Woodcroft took over the crew, he known the weaknesses and strengths of the Oilers. A crew that has two of the most efficient avid gamers on the earth with improbable stamina and skill who’re ready to double shift, so he did simply that with the lineup. Woodcroft elected to run with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen for quite a few video games and it labored. However operating that form of lineup used to be additionally because of the wounds at the back-end that the Oilers had been coping with. He spotted that and made the short repair in order that the crew would have the ability to paintings with other mixtures whilst Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl had been ready to get ice time with the bottom-six wingers.

Jay Woodcroft Edmonton Oilers
Jay Woodcroft, Edmonton Oilers head trainer (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Liberating up that additional spot on ahead and operating with 3 of the Oilers’ perfect avid gamers down the center made for extraordinarily tough line matching through the opponent in addition to an impactful participant at all times at the ice. Although the bottom-six wingers nonetheless won’t have got just about the same quantity of ice time in line with recreation as the highest traces, they got a greater alternative to create one thing offensively.

Woodcroft Did Wonders for the Defence & Goaltending

There used to be an entire alternate in how issues ran at the defensive aspect of the sport after Woodcroft’s arrival with Dave Manson along him. The Oilers failed to close out a crew within the first part of the season underneath former head trainer Dave Tippett however recorded 4 shutouts within the ultimate 38 video games coming from all 3 of the Oilers’ goaltenders.

Mike Smith recorded back-to-back shutouts close to the top of the season and went on a 9-0-0 run to finish the season. All the way through that streak is when he recorded his two shutouts and allowed greater than two objectives towards in simply two of the video games. He additionally posted two shutouts within the playoffs and performed lovely neatly for essentially the most phase. Stuart Skinner flourished underneath Woodcroft in Bakersfield for a couple of years and recorded a shutout in his ultimate recreation with the crew this previous season. The time he’s spent together with his trainer might be a significant factor transferring ahead as Skinner is ready to be the backup subsequent season for the Oilers. As for Mikko Koskinen, we noticed an uptick in his efficiency as neatly, going 11-4-2 with a shutout since he took over.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Photograph through Harry How/Getty Pictures)

The defensive technique applied through Woodcroft ensured everybody backchecked after the puck have been became over. Too again and again the Oilers had been stuck on odd-man rushes towards that resulted in objectives, frequently through the top guy. As the entire avid gamers purchased into the alternate, their objectives towards in line with recreation lowered they usually completed the common season robust. Even though the playoffs had been very loopy in the case of objectives for and towards, more than one Oilers had been taking part in injured together with key defenceman Darnell Nurse.

With regards to the forwards, any individual who were given a large uptick in defensive play used to be Draisaitl. Already identified for his play at the defensive aspect of the puck, regardless of being underrated in that regard, he increased his recreation to a brand new degree. In the course of a troublesome stretch the place the Oilers performed the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes, he went 10 consecutive video games with out being at the ice for an even-strength objective towards, whilst blocking off an important choice of photographs. That’s one thing he isn’t identified to do, as he’s a celebrity participant and can keep away from the chance of damage. He’s frequently the go-to man to kill a five-on-three, however his total penalty-killing time in line with recreation higher vastly underneath Woodcroft as he noticed the possible.

Similar: Ken Holland’s Trades & Signings in 2021-22 Key to Oilers’ Luck

The particular groups additionally stepped forward, the penalty kill extra so than the facility play, as Woodcroft helped the crew do an entire 180 and close groups down once they went down a person. This helped with now not falling at the back of early and protecting each and every recreation shut, even if they’re trailing.

Woodcroft is a Younger Participant’s Trainer

Woodcroft spent quite a few seasons down within the AHL for the Condors. All the way through that point, lots of the avid gamers in this Oilers’ crew have come via and performed for him, the newest being Ryan McLeod, Skinner, Bouchard, and Broberg. The Oilers have completed really well in filling their crew with avid gamers they’ve drafted all the way through the years, so Woodcroft has been ready to go away his mark within the minors and lend a hand them push their careers ahead.

McLeod, one of the vital latest contributors of the Oilers to graduate from Bakersfield, improved very much all the way through the season and used to be ready to play anyplace or do regardless of the crew wanted. He hung out on each and every line and performed each particular groups whilst additionally transferring from wing to centre. The way in which the Oilers are arrange and what an impactful participant McLeod already is, the third-line centre place is his to lose subsequent season.

Ryan McLeod Edmonton Oilers
Ryan McLeod, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The hope is that avid gamers like Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi go back and make stronger from final season underneath Woodcroft. The trainer knew the issue surrounding Puljujarvi and used to be operating to lend a hand him get previous the droop he used to be in as Woodcroft nonetheless noticed the ability he possessed and the facility to be in the fitting position offensively and defensively. Yamamoto had a postseason to keep in mind earlier than struggling an damage, however he too advanced the talents he has underneath Woodcroft within the AHL and can glance to be much more impactful subsequent season.

Because the Oilers took a large step this season in now not handiest transferring previous the primary spherical however successful the Fight of Alberta and making it to the Convention Ultimate, Woodcroft merits each and every penny he earns on his soon-to-be contract extension. Consequently, he will get an A grade from me.







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