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Hitchcock looking for more pace and predictability as Edmonton Oilers return from break

WATCH ABOVE: Some recent video about the Edmonton Oilers.

Ken Hitchcock has a new plan, and he’s hoping it will get the Edmonton Oilers into the playoffs.

The Oilers practise Thursday night and Friday morning before playing Saturday in Philadelphia. It’ll be their first game in a week-and-a-half and that has given Hitchcock time to think about what the Oilers need to do to stay alive in the NHL’s Western Conference race.

“We’re going to put systematic principles in place that allow [us] to be more predictable, allow us to play quicker, allow us to put more numbers in on attack, and allow us to be in a position… where we can support each other a little quicker and easier,” Hitchcock said Thursday on 630 CHED’s Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.

Listen below: Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock appears on 630 CHED’s Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.

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The Oilers have lost three straight games and go into Saturday’s action three points out of a playoff spot. They looked tentative in losses to Carolina and Detroit before their break. They’ve been outshot in 17 of their last 20 games.

“How do [we] spend more time in the fun zone, which is the offensive zone?” Hitchcock said.

“We have to play more on our toes. We have to play more predictable offensively. We have to play more on the attack.”

READ MORE: Lifeless start dooms Edmonton Oilers in 3-2 loss to Red Wings

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2018-19 season.

Defencemen Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera will be full participants in both practices. Sekera hasn’t played all season as he recovers from a torn Achilles. Klefbom has been out since suffering a broken finger on Dec. 11 against Colorado. It’s hoped he can play on Saturday.

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“We have to be careful because he’s not going to come back to us 100 per cent,” Hitchcock said. “He’s not going to be up to the speed of the National Hockey League.”

In goal, Hitchcock will stick with whoever is playing better, even though Mikko Koskinen recently signed a three-year contract extension and Cam Talbot’s days with the Oilers appear to be numbered.

“We went on a run because of the goalies,” Hitchcock said. “If we’re going to make the playoffs and go on a run, the goalies have to be the story.”

When the Oilers went 9-2-2 after Hitchcock took over on Nov. 20, they had a .923 save percentage, best in the NHL during that span. In the 17 games since then, it’s .880.

 

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