3) Jay Woodcroft is losing control
Prior to this season, we stated that Woodcroft’s job would be at risk if the Oilers didn’t win the Stanley Cup. As much as this could have been described as hyperbole, it’s the type of pressure which comes when you have arguably the two best players in the game at your disposal.
In addition, the Oilers (theoretically) had their strongest roster in years, hence why they were among the preseason favourites to win it all. So what’s gone wrong?
We’ve discussed almost ad nauseam about the Oilers’ lack of focus and concentration, the mental errors, and so on. And ultimately, the buck has to stop with the coach.
It was alarming just how unmotivated the Oilers seemed to be, for the humiliating 8-1 season-opening loss in Vancouver. No matter how much it’s down to the players once they hit the ice, this still reflects badly on Woodcroft in how unprepared the team was for the game with the Canucks.
Perhaps alluding to the general sense of lacking urgency, the 47-year-old’s mindset is telling. When asked by the media at what point do you start being worried given that it’s now nearly at the 10-game mark, he said he doesn’t share the same level of concern.
Objectively speaking this does make sense; you can’t go losing your cool when things are going wrong and falling apart around you. You need to remain composed and do what is necessary to steady the ship.
Regardless, something just doesn’t seem right with this team. No matter the injuries, the bad luck and so on, this doesn’t make up for the fact the Oilers are looking nothing like the team they were predicted to be, or are capable of being.
The situation is becoming eerily similar to back in February 2022, when Woodcroft had to replace Dave Tippitt, who’d clearly lost the team. If he’s not careful, he will meet the same fate as his predecessor.
Quote of the day
Woodcroft is doing his best to remain positive, but knows the team let themselves down in the end. He said:
"“Ninety-nine shots attempts, 50 on net, all that kind of stuff. That’s nice, but when you spot a good team a lead like that, usually you don’t end up on the right side of it.”"
Overall, concern that the Heritage Classic win versus a poor Flames team was just masking the flaws, seems to be true following Thursday night’s game. The Oilers’ response on Saturday afternoon versus the Predators, will be very telling in determining what this team is all about.