NHL: Oilers will put their lessons to the test against the Kings in the first round

As the Edmonton Oilers prepare for another playoff run, they look to their toughest run of the season to find strength.

“As much as we want our players to be perfect and our team to be perfect, there are learning moments in a season,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. As a technical staff you want to capitalize on those moments. †

The Oilers have started the 2021-2022 season strong, winning nine of their first ten games. However, the Edmonton squad had a hard time in December and January with a 2-11-2 streak.

Heavy losses after the All-Star Game break spelled the death blow for head coach Dave Tippett, who was fired on February 10. Woodcroft replaced him and the Oilers went 26-9-3 under his tutelage.

According to striker Derek Ryan, the new head coach was good at identifying problems and finding solutions.

“I think we were looking for that earlier in the year when things weren’t going well. We just felt like we were being told to work better and harder,” Ryan explained. We were looking for answers and ‘Woody’ found them well. †

This asset will serve the team through the playoffs, Ryan added.

“I believe that the series, it is necessary to adjust our tactics and change when the other team changes theirs, he analyzed. I think Jay will be very good in that regard because he has shown it since he’s here.”

The Oilers finished the season in second place in the Pacific Division with a 49-27-6 record. They have home field advantage against the Los Angeles Kings in a first round matchup starting Monday.

Game 2 is in Edmonton on Wednesday before the series moves to Los Angeles. The Kings (44-27-11) finished third in the Pacific Division.

The two teams have met four times this season and the Oilers have won three times.

The Kings are a close-knit team that doesn’t give a damn in the transition. They’re a bit like the Winnipeg Jets, who defeated the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs last season, according to center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

“I think we’ve grown as a team and learned from that. We’ve found ways to get over that this year,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to be a tough and tight run, but we have to find a way to score that extra goal.” and push a little harder.”

The Oilers and Kings have not met in the playoffs since 1992, when Wayne Gretzky still wore the Kings colors. Edmonton’s company had been victorious in six games.

Kings head coach Todd McLellan knows more about the Oilers than many, having coached the team from 2015 to November 2019. But he has made it clear that he is not thinking about his personal connections with the Oilers on the eve of the start of the series. .

“I’m just glad our group has the opportunity to have this experience that we all need,” said McLellan. Only three players in uniform have a lot of experience in the play-offs. This time of year can only improve our program and organization going forward. †

The Kings are without star defender Drew Doughty, who had wrist surgery last month. They went 7-4-1 in April and won five in a row at the end of April.

The Oilers won 11 of their 14 games in April (11-2-1) and had at least one run in their last 15 home games (14-0-1). Connor McDavid had a career high 123 points to claim the Art-Ross Trophy.

“What he’s accomplished here this season, I don’t think everyone recognizes it because there’s almost a consensus of ‘Oh, it’s only McDavid that remains McDavid’,” Woodcroft insisted. He set a career high and he led us team. He is motivated to win.”

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