For those wondering, the Oilers wouldn’t be the first to fire their coach during or after a good season – the 2019-20 Toronto Maple Leafs, 2019-20 Vegas Golden Knights, 2015-16 Pittsburgh (winning the Stanley Cup) Penguins, and many more. A training reset wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, especially with the Oilers having to make the most of their core group’s peak years. Let’s take a look at some of Tippett’s mistakes during his tenure and who could potentially replace him.
2020 NHL Qualifying Round
When they arrived in the NHL bubble in 2020, the Oilers looked good. They had one of the best lines in the league, a plethora of two-way defenders, and had just added Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis and Mike Green to the deadline. They were fourth in the Western Conference (fifth in points percentage) and were ready for a clash with the mediocre No. 12 seed of the Chicago Blackhawks. But for some reason, Tippett decided to play with his lines, creating new forward combinations instead of going with the ones that got him to the playoffs.
The DRY line (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto) was split after carrying the Oilers, while Connor McDavid struggled with injuries and suspension. The quick Athanasiou moved up to the third line after scoring two points in his only game on the captain’s wing.
Caleb Jones, who had a stellar campaign in 2019-20, sometimes in the top four (in Oscar Klefbom’s absence), was struck out for three of four games, replaced by Kris Russell, who shivered with the puck the whole series. Tippett decided to play another stopping defender, while having Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse and Matthew Benning – who can all get by in the defensive zone – in the lineup as well.
Although Tippett made many roster errors in the qualifying round, he was still considered the Oilers’ infallible head coach as he had a terrific regular season with them and helped them create a real system. lockdown and defense, which they could use very effectively when they had the lead late in the game.
2021 NHL Regular Season
The shortened NHL regular season in 2020-21 was really where Tippett struggled, in my opinion. Even though he could carry six more players in his “taxi team”, he did not use his limited calls effectively, as several times during the season he called players just to play a game or two, then sent them back.
On several occasions during the season he has seriously mismanaged the players. A prime example of this is Evan Bouchard, one of, if not the Oilers’ best prospect. After a fantastic first season in the AHL in which he proved he was ready for the NHL, Bouchard set his sights on the big club. He was placed on the taxi team and rarely played all season, recording just 14 games, and it wasn’t like he was playing badly. He played exceptionally well on the third pair, registering more than two shots per game while making many sneaky but effective plays to either step up in the attacking zone, create a better shooting angle, or get out of the defensive zone. For a team that is having trouble getting out of its end of the ice, Bouchard could have helped them with that… if he had played.
The next player who has been mismanaged is defenseman Caleb Jones, who has played 33 games but spent most of the game on the bench, as evidenced by his average time on the ice of 12:59. He plays a game similar to Bouchard but gives less offense to the team. Kris Russell should never have played against him. Although Jones got off to a rocky start, he appeared to find a new home alongside Larsson, combining a two-way defender and a stopping defender. Despite the good looks of this pair, Tippett refused to place them together once they acquired Dmitry Kulikov, which could have allowed Tyson Barrie, the last player on my list, to focus entirely on maximizing his game. offensive.
After putting Barrie with Darnell Nurse, a lot of people thought the pairing would be one of the best in the NHL. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Having two defensemen enjoying the best seasons of their careers paired up was not the right idea. They couldn’t find any chemistry, as both wanted to be the catalyst on the attacking side, leaving no one to play in defense.
After finishing the season with Nurse, Barrie’s offensive totals were good enough to lead the league, thanks in part to his role as the team’s power play quarterback. However, Barrie’s underlying numbers were of great concern as he had a terrible take-on-giveaway ratio of 16 to 43. It doesn’t end there, as his expected goals for (xGF) – a measure of how many odds that a player creates and gives up – was minus-0.3. For a standard, Nurse’s xGF was 7.8 and Larsson’s was 1.3.
Barrie and Nurse also fired insignificant shots at the net several times per game, relinquishing possession. They combined to fire 358 low danger shot attempts, which is measured by MoneyPuck. Most of these issues could have been resolved if Barrie had been placed with a more reliable partner, such as Kulikov, allowing him to attack fully in the offensive zone and create high-danger chances without worrying about covering his partner.
2021 NHL Playoffs
Early in their first-round encounter with the Jets, the Oilers looked very confident, and for good reason. They had beaten the Jets seven times in the regular season, had the home advantage and Winnipeg was without Nikolaj Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois for the opener. The Oilers lost for a number of reasons, with Connor Hellebuyck dominating at the top, to terrible roster / line management from Tippett, to being just plain unlucky. Let’s see how Tippett mishandled the lines.
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It started in Game 1 when he inserted Zack Kassian and Slater Koekkoek into the roster. Kassian had been out for over a month and has never proven he should have had a chance at making the playoffs. His very disappointing performance seemed to be an introduction to what was to come, as he had not resumed his game since then. Koekkoek had just played one game since his collarbone injury on Feb.22 before he entered the Oilers roster. While he played relatively well on the bottom pair before his injury, it takes a while for anyone (except McDavid) to come back from something as horrible as this, and Koekkoek clearly needed more. time to readjust.
Tippett’s second incident was his variety of benches in every game, starting in Game 1, where Ryan McLeod (you’ll see him a lot here) played a meager 7:58, despite having a pretty convincing game. In Game 2, McLeod and Dominik Kahun were the ones charged, as they both played under 10 minutes. By the way, McLeod is a pretty good faceoff player, so if Tippett really wanted to put him on the bench, why not just give him a faceoff and then retire? In Game 3, Tyler Ennis and Yamamoto were under Tippett’s wrath as they played under 13 minutes. Ennis had two things to take away from this game and played with a lot of energy and creativity. If you need to score, why not give them more playing time?
Finally, in Game 4, which was perhaps Tippett’s worst performance, McLeod, Ethan Bear, Koekkoek and Alex Chiasson all played under 15 minutes… in a 106 minute game! At least give them a shift or two of overtime. They would definitely have more jumping and tenacity than a tired player, so why not play them? I understand Bear’s bench, but he got a combined shift in the three overtime hours. How about putting him on the bench for overtime and then playing him with Koekkoek every four or five shifts? same Kevin Bieksa, former NHL player and Sportsnet analyst said he believes these players should get a shift or two. Winnipeg was playing with the guys on their backline and their pair, and look what happened when their top player got a little more rested than the Oilers top player. McDavid returned the puck, Kyle Connor received the pass and the game is over, the series is over, the Oilers season is over.
When it comes to making the final decision, GM Ken Holland will make the decision. While it’s unlikely due to his loyalty to “long-term” coaches, if he fires Tippett, coaches like Gerard Gallant, Bruce Boudreau, Todd Nelson (remember him?) And even Mike Babcock will surely get at least one interview. I would even be okay with hiring someone within the organization, like Glen Gulutzan, or even Jay Woodcroft, who has done a fantastic job developing the current Oilers players (Jesse Puljujarvi, Bear, Jones, McLeod, Yamamoto, Bouchard and William Lagesson).
Tippett made too many mistakes and his time is running out. With McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Nurse all in their prime, and with new players likely to arrive, perhaps now is the perfect time to implement a new training system in the Oilers.