Game Day 11: Oilers vs Canucks
This in from hockey insider Elliotte Friedman on his 32 Thoughts podcast, speculation around the future of coach Jay Woodcroft with the Edmonton Oilers. “Yes, I do believe that the Oilers are starting to ask some serious questions internally. Like, what is wrong? What can we do to fix it? And has it been thrown around that maybe they might have to look for another coach? Yes, I believe it has.”
Friedman also asked a pertinent question: “How many teams fire a coach with that kind of winning percentage and find someone better? That’s the No. 1 thing I look at here.”
Friedman also noted that it was unlikely that the NHL would approve of former Chicago coach Joel Quenneville’s return to the NHL just now.
1. Friedman is one of the top insiders in the game, if not the top. If he says he believes something has happened, he’s not spitballing, he’s not making up nonsense, he’s heard from a reliable source that something has happened, in this case discussions among Oilers hockey bosses about the possibility of firing Woodcroft and bringing in a new coach.
2. Woodcroft has an excellent record as a coach and firing him would be a risky move. At the same time, Edmonton simply can’t let this year get away from them. I suspect before either of those things happen, Edmonton will do a few things, such as send goalie Jack Campbell down to the AHL and bring up Olivier Rodrigue, trade Campbell with high picks for another goalie, or trade for another strong player. I am a fan, not an insider, so when I say these things, it’s just me spitballing, in no way any kind of insider information.
3. Rodrigue has a .968 save percentage in two games in Bakersfield. Calvin Pickard has a .939 save percentage. At this point, either would likely be a better choice than Campbell.
4. In the game against Nashville, when Campbell lost his net on the first goal against, a routine wrap-around shot, I suspect he lost his team. It’s hard to endure that kind of goal against if you’re a teammate, especially if they’ve seen this movie so many times before, Campbell biting far too hard on the first shot or shot attempt and leaving his net wide open. He’s a nervous goalie. He needs time in the AHL now to get his head and his game back together. I would not count him out, but I would give him that time in a less pressure packed situation.
5. Of the 52 goalies who have played at least four games this year, Campbell has the 47th worst save percentage, .873. Stuart Skinner is 51 out of 52 at .861. So why stick with him over Campbell? Campbell has looked more iffy, made more major mistakes on Grade A shots against, six of them compared to just one for Skinner.
6. The fact is that when you look at the Oilers this year, they’ve created as many good scoring chance shots, 14.2 per game, as they’ve given up. 13.1 per game. That indicates goaltending has been a major issue. Friedman speculated on this as well, quoting another NHL executive who wondered if there was too high a price to pay for Edmonton to get out of this mess and solve the goaltending problem, and suggesting that there might not be too high a price. Those may well turn out to be both predictive and wise words.
At the Cult of Hockey
McCURDY: Sifting through the rubble of Oil’s terrible start
STAPLES: Joel Quenneville chat premature, Jay Woodcroft needs a proper chance to turn things around
LEAVINS: 9 Things, mostly on Woodcroft and the Oil’s iffy start
STAPLES: Yet more mental errors cost the Oilers another 2 points versus Nashville
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