McDavid, Draisaitl, Tippett and Edmonton Oilers get roasted by NBC 's Pierre McGuire. Hmmm

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This in from former NHL coach and current NBC hockey commentator Pierre McGuire, his roasting of the Edmonton Oilers for their four-game sweep by the Winnipeg Jets. Speaking on TSN 1200 in Ottawa this morning, McGuire made a number of points, and I’ll respond to them in turn.

McGuire: “It’s two years in a row. They got beat last year by Chicago. I was there every game. It’s the same movie, it’s just a different year.”

My take: When the cow is down, the butchers are many. There are going to be all kinds of over-reactions to what happened with the Oilers in this series. McGuire is leading the charge. I certainly don’t agree with him on this firs point. Last year the Oilers were a mess against Chicago. Their Top 4 defence of Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson struggled mightily. Their goaltending was mediocre at best. They scored plenty of goals but struggled to defend. This year Nurse led a much better defensive effort and Mike Smith was strong in net. The series came down a handful of shots and plays that went Winnipeg’s way. It’s fair to say that in key moments Edmonton lacked composure on defence, but this wasn’t a defensive meltdown like it was against Chicago. In some ways, this loss by the Oilers is far more painful because the Oilers were so close to beating a very good Winnipeg team. But the fact they were so close isn’t an indication that this Oilers team is fatally flawed or needs major changes. It needs steady, consistent and patient handling, the kind that GM Ken Holland has brought since he joined the Oilers two years ago.

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McGuire: “What happened with Josh Archibald in Game 3, that can’t happen. That’s decision making. And Dave Tippett is an elite coach, not a little bit good, really good, but for him to have put Josh Archibald back on the ice after what he did with the clipping play in the neutral that got him a one-game suspension, that cost them that game for sure. It just wasn’t smart. That’s part of the problem.”

My take: Was the Archibald hit on Logan Stanley a bad idea at the wrong time? Yes, it was. The Oilers need to play it smart and safe. Archibald’s hit was neither. At the same time, he’s a physical player who throws a ton of hits. Every now and then he’s going to go over the edge. That’s what happens when you push and play at the edge, which is what Edmonton needs from Archibald. Even after Winnipeg scored on the ensuring power play, the Oilers had a two goal lead. The problems came with coach Dave Tippett not calling a timeout, and with Edmonton’s subsequent melt down on defence, a lack of defensive composure at a key moment. That melt down has to be addressed, yes, but it can be addressed. Defensive habits and composure can be taught. They can be learned with hard experience. The Oilers just had a brutal learning lesson. As for the notion of benching Archibald that game, Tippett needed to win that game and Archibald could still help his team win. Why bench a player who can help you in crucial moments?

McGuire: “They’ve got to decide what kind of players they want on the team, what type of style they want to play and how committed are their star players to playing a 200-foot game.”

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My take: The Oilers and their stars are committed to playing two-way hockey. Edmonton does need to commit to having both McDavid and Draisaitl centre their own lines, and standing up as strong defensive defensive centres, but that will happen as soon as Edmonton finds the right left-winger to play with McDavid. They’ve yet to find that player, though Jesse Puljujarvi looks like a great fit on the right side.

McGuire: “They cannot come back with the same line-up they had last year that they had this year and if they do, then then they’re doomed for failure.”

My take: Yes, the Oilers need to make changes. Every team does. Holland has talked about the need to make two or three changes each year, and that will happen this summer with the Oilers. New players will come in, some will go. “Doomed to failure” seems a bit over the top, though.

McGuire: Asked if Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid need to be sat down and have same talk that Scotty Bowman had with ex-Detroit star Steve Yzerman to play a more complete two-way game, McGuire said, “That’s exactly what Scotty did with Steve Yzerman. It happened right after they lost to San Jose with a Jame Baker Game Seven overtime winner (in 1994). And I’ll tell you, it worked. It worked. And Steve Yzerman will go down as one of the greatest winners in the history of the National Hockey League, everybody knows it. But until they won he wasn’t considered that… Man oh man, he fixed it in a hurry, and Scotty helped him fix it, and he bought in. I don’t know those players well enough. I know them as players. I don’t know them well enough as people, so I don’t know whether they would accept it or not, but I’ll tell you what, it has to happen. It definitely has to happen.”

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My take: McDavid took a step up as a defensive player this year, improving his slot defence. Draisaitl is a strong defender when he puts his mind to it. I don’t know what did or didn’t happen with Yzerman, but McDavid and Draisiatl continue to progress as two-way players. I’d like to see them both centre their own lines, as that is how Edmonton will get the most out of both of them, and I expect we’ll see much more of that in 2021-22.Mc

McGuire: As about walking away from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, McGuire said, “I would try to resign him. He’s one of the players that they have that’s committed to 200-foot hockey… If in fact they let him go to market there will be no shortage of suitors for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins… If you let him go, that’s fine. Tell me who you are going to replace him with?”

My take: It comes down to money, term and fit with RNH. I would prefer he sign a short-term deal, as he was inconsistent this year.

McGuire: “They (Winnipeg) out coached Dave Tippett, I’ll tell you that.”

My take: Should Tippett have called a timeout in Game 3 after Winnipeg’s second goal? Definitely. Should he have done a better job in the regular season finding lines that worked? Yes. Did he get out coached by Paul Maurice of Winnipeg? Maurice’s team was certainly playing at its peak. Tippett’s team was not. This was a fair comment from McGuire. At the same time, the Oilers have trended up consistently under Tippett. They’ve had great special teams. Their even strength play is improving. His faith in Mike Smith paid off handsomely. Tippett has done well. He didn’t get everything perfect against Winnipeg, but who does get everything perfect?

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