“Understand the value of playing inside the dots and being in support position where you’re really closer to the puck everywhere,” explained Hitchcock on Wednesday in Anaheim.
“You’re closer to the puck when the D has it. You’re closer to the puck when the wingers have it. It ends up on your stick. Your touches are usually double. That’s what we want to do. Get more touches for the centre ice position.”
Hitchcock likes the Oilers strength down the middle and says he plans, for now, to keep McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the same line.
“I’m really focused on keeping them together,” said Hitchcock. “I’m able to do that because of the good play of (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins. I’m able to play those together because Nugent-Hopkins is able to carry a line. He’s a very effective player.”
The Oilers are coming off a 4-3 overtime win Tuesday night in San Jose. They had Wednesday off. Hitchcock will run his first practice on Thursday. The team has often been guilty of cheating for offence in the defensive end. Hitchcock plans to put an end to that.
“There’s no negotiation when the other team has the puck. There’s no negotiation at all. I expect everyone over the next couple of weeks to start looking the same when the opposition has the puck,” said Hitchcock.
The Oilers will play the Ducks on Friday. The Face-off Show on 630 CHED will start at noon. The game will begin at 2 p.m.
Watch below: Edmonton Oilers fire Todd McLellan, name Ken Hitchcock the new head coach