FIVE THINGS: Jay Woodcroft
I've always been a fan of Jay Woodcroft so I'm happy to see him finally get a shot as a Head Coach in the NHL.
In my few dealings with him it's easy to tell he's a great guy and those who have been around him in the hockey world seem to believe he's a great coach as well. I hope he has success.
I am very intrigued to see the way he handles a number of different situations that didn't go so well for Dave Tippett over his final days behind the Oilers bench.
The Goaltenders: Will he be more willing to play Stuart Skinner and if Skinner plays well will he feel the pressure to go back to one of the veteran netminders? The follow up here is how the coaching change helps Skinner, he's played many more games with Woodcroft as his head coach, will that relationship bring out the best in him?
Nurse's Partner: We've seen Barrie and Bouchard both get a decent amount of time along side Darnell Nurse but in my humble opinion neither pairing has really moved the needle, maybe that's on Nurse. With Duncan Keith out for at least two weeks will Woodcroft put Cody Ceci on the top pair and if he doesn't which one of the other guys gets the job back?
Ice Time Distribution: Will Woodcroft follow in the footsteps of Tippett and simply rely heavily on McDavid and Draisaitl? Could he use ice-time as a currency and distribute it more evenly to those who are earning it? I'm hoping he does the latter as I'm interested to see how the rest of the team responds when given more responsibility.
The Power-Play: It's no secret the power-play has been subpar as of late. I'd expect we see the odd tweak from Woodcroft, at least to start things while he gets a better read on what possibly needs to be done to get a once historically deadly unit back on track.
Line Combinations: I don't care what the line combinations are, I just want to see them stick together for a bit. The one thing that always drove me crazy with Tippett was his quick trigger finger. I'm not sure we saw a five game stretch this season where the top nine forwards remained the same, heck, I'm not sure we even saw that for three games. It's impossible to develop chemistry with a linemate in 4 or 5 periods and if you can't do that how are you suppose to build an identity as a team?
What is the biggest difference you are expecting to see from this team with Jay Woodcroft behind the bench? Hit me up on twitter @nielsonTSN1260 or leave a comment right here on the web-site.