Author of the article:

Bruce McCurdy Edmonton Journal

Publishing date:

Oct 21, 2020 9 minute read

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett speaks with journalism throughout training camp at Rogers Place on Sept. 18, 2019. Picture by Ian Kucerak/ Postmedia, file

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Some 10 weeks after his team was gotten rid of early in the NHL’s prolonged Stanley Cup playoffs, Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett has resurfaced for some welcome commentary on his team. Tippett was Tuesday’s highlighted visitor on the popular local radio program Oilers Now on 630 CHED. His extended interview with host Bob Stauffer is well worth the eavesdrop its entirety, touching on both the group’s performance last season and expectations for next. We have actually extracted some prolonged sound bites, a little edited for clarity, on 4 current key signings.

On the 2019-20 season

  • ” In the routine season before the shutdown, we actually made strides. You enter into a new scenario, whether you’re a brand-new GM or a brand-new coach, you’re trying to figure out what you have. I believed we made some good progress through the year. A couple of dips occasionally, but you discover people. Establishes some strengths of our group, recognized some weaknesses. I thought we were going the ideal direction when it got dropped in the spring, we ‘d tweaked a couple of things and seemed like we had a pretty good handle on our team. And we came back and it was disappointing. Our frame of mind, our focus that very first game was disappointing, we got down early and chased the game. The remainder of the series we played well adequate to win it. I didn’t like the way we safeguarded at times. I believed our goaltending was great in the regular season and extremely typical in the play-in, and we just made a lot of vital errors at incorrect times that cost us the series versus Chicago.

    “[In the regular season] I liked our unique groups. To get to the next level, we have to be a better 5 on 5 group and we need to be a better safeguarding teams at 5 on 5.”

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No argument on that last part, and the outcomes support all of the coach’s main points. The Oilers were dominant on both special groups last year, outscoring their opposition by a net 21 goals, the best in the NHL. However, at 5v5 the club had a goal differential of -16, and their Goals For Portion of simply 47.3%ranked 25 th in the league. They were 18 th in Goals For/60 and a lowly 26 th in Goals Against. That latter area in particular requirements attention and enhancement, and the coach is keenly aware of that reality.

On Jesse Puljujarvi

  • ” I’m just going on hearsay, I didn’t understand Jesse at all. We began having discussions in the middle of the year last year between Ken Holland, myself, his representative, Jesse, simply to get to know him. As those conversations moved on, we got more comfortable with each other. I’ve viewed the majority of Jesse’s video games this year, he’s playing extremely well.

    ” Having an opportunity to speak with him a bit, he’s a fascinating person. I don’t understand what occurred previously. I have actually heard stories, however he’s taken a great deal of duty for that himself. He knows he came by, he was a young person, didn’t understand the language, lots of things to discover and not just on the ice, however great deals of things to find out off the ice. It overwhelmed him a bit.

    ” So, he’s gone home. You watch him play now, he’s a different gamer. He’s simply a dominant gamer in the Finnish League today. He’s taken responsibility, his English is great, he’s anxious to come over and prove that he can be an excellent player in the best league in the world. He’s willing to play anywhere we want him to play, play any function we desire him to play. He simply wants to come over and suit and be an excellent gamer for the Edmonton Oilers. Right now, watching him in Finland, he’s a leading power play man, top five-on-five man, they have actually even got him eliminating charges. He’s a much more well-rounded player. That occurs. That’s just maturity in a gamer. For him, it’s maturity as a hockey player and maturity as a person. I think we’ll get a much better player can be found in here this time.”

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Looks like a determined, forward-looking approach, with Tippett a minimum of talking the talk of a fresh start for the oft-maligned child.

How maligned? It was fascinating to compare Tippett’s take with that of long-time Sportsnet expert Drew Remenda, talked to by Stauffer later on the very same program. Unlike the coach, Remenda was really familiar with Puljujarvi’s first stint in Edmonton, and had some strong words which most likely reflect the general viewpoint of the mythical “200 Hockey Guy”.

  • ” I didn’t think he was wise enough, I believed his hockey IQ was low. I didn’t believe he had great principles. I didn’t think he was putting as much into his game, investing into his craft, like we saw Leon, like we saw Connor. I always thought to myself, ‘you understand, Jesse, if you would just take a look at those two people and at how difficult they practice and put that into your game, you ‘d be a helluva lot much better’. I always thought he was an entitled gamer. I’ve never ever been a fan of the man.”

Whoa.

When considering J.P.’s return and possible future, nevertheless, Remenda’s tone softened substantially.

  • ” I hope he’s matured. You go from 18 in a strange nation without a language, I understand there ‘d be that shyness, that reclusiveness, that awkwardness in trying to fit in. I get that at 18 years of ages. Now he’s 22, he’ll be more mature, he’ll be a little bit more confident since he did play in a good league and had success. This will be, I hope, a more confident Jesse Puljujarvi being available in. He’s got the tools, I hope this little experience is getting added to the toolbox.”

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On that last, positive part, it appears both coach and critic are on the exact same page. The conclusion of both guys– time for a fresh start– is a perspective that one hopes will resonate with the fan base and especially with the gamer himself. 4 years out of his draft day, Puljujarvi remains an intriguing if enigmatic possibility who still has “the toolbox” and a bright future.

On Kyle Turris

  • ” The NHL has actually gone to a Leading 9 forwards and then a role-playing 4th line, whether it’s an energy line or charge killers. We were a Leading 6 and Bottom 6 last year. With generating Kyle [Turris] and with the addition of Puljujarvi, we’ll feel more comfortable with a Leading 9 in offensive situations and 5 on 5 situations. The centreman is actually the essential to that due to the fact that he can drive a line.

    ” I had Turris as a young player in Arizona, then I had him in the World Championships in Belarus about four or 5 years ago. He played in the exact function that I picture him playing in with our group because tournament, and he was excellent. We used him as a veteran centreman, faceoffs on the best side, and he added some offence, but he also was a genuine wise player in all scenarios.

    ” I see him touching both sides of special teams … When I had him worldwide Championships he was a great penalty-killer. Situational things, he simply hasn’t been put in that scenario [in Nashville] however that’s something we’re going to count on … Our powerplay was truly good and I don’t anticipate a great deal of changes in the forward positions. I believe the second system will get more time with a genuine centreman. When you have a powerplay like ours that has so much zone time they’re in there a long period of time, your next line coming out has the opportunity to be a second powerplay system, however if they do not get a lot of time you require a line on the ice that can be all set for the other team’s leading line coming out, and those are things that Turris can do. He’s going to be a nice suitable for us.”

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Those are welcome words about a Leading 9. In this recent post I wrote of how last year’s Top 6/Bottom 6 devolved into “two first lines, 2 fourth lines” with the bottom of the order producing next to nothing offensively and eventually relinquishing, and then some, the edge offered by the Draisaitl and McDavid lines at even strength. It was obviously Holland’s goal to pump some much-needed offending clout into the 3rd line, and Tippett is plainly on board with the new method.

On Tyson Barrie

  • ” I think he’s a great two-way gamer. At 5 on 5 we didn’t play with the puck enough, so we wound up safeguarding excessive. He may not be the very best protector in the league, however he does not safeguard [as much] as the other men do because he moves the puck well and can move out of our end. With Klefbom a question mark, he’ll be available in and give our powerplay a little various look with a right-hander rather of a left-hander, yet is extremely adept at running a powerplay. I think he’s a terrific fit for us.”

2 novice Oilers, two “fantastic fits”. Tippett’s opening remark of Barrie being a great two-way gamer is a little an eyebrow-raiser, however his clarification of a man who’ll relieve the pressure by getting the puck relocating the best instructions is on point. For sure he has the track record of being an offending hazard both on the powerplay and at even strength.

On Mike Smith

  • “[Goaltending] is a location we believed if we could discover somebody younger that would go with Koskinen that’s a choice we would look at if the right person came along. That right individual wasn’t out there, so we chose a person that we knew. Our goaltending during the regular season was OKAY. We need to be a much better safeguarding team 5 on 5 in front of those goaltenders.

    ” The tandem and Koskinen and Smith … Koskinen is a quiet, extremely reserved guy, simply tackles his service. Smitty has actually got some fire. And our dressing room requires some fire. Whether he’s playing or not, he’s one of those veterans that are available in the room and he’ll hold people accountable, whether it’s himself or other individuals.

    ” Don’t forget that we signed [Anton] Forsberg too, who is a legitimate # 3 in the NHL. He’s a man that’s had some action prior to. That was a real excellent signing.”

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