Dave Tippett’s mission is to reduce Edmonton Oilers goals against

The Edmonton Oilers announced Dave Tippett as the team's new head coach Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
The Edmonton Oilers announced Dave Tippett as the team's new head coach Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News

Dave Tippett isn’t keeping secrets when it comes to his number one priority as the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

“You look at the goals against — that’s got to change,” said Tippett on Monday, as he prepared to play in the Oilers Community Foundation golf tournament.

“We could have three 50-goal scorers, but if you keeping giving up goals like last year, you’re not going to be a playoff team, that’s just a matter of fact.

“Our goals against is going to be a real priority.”

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The Oilers allowed 3.30 goals-per-game in 2018/19. Only six teams were worse defensively.

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“I’ve talked to him a few times now,” said centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Tippett. “I got to work with him at the World Cup a few years ago, too. Every team he’s coached, their structure is really good and they stick to it night after night.”

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“There will be nothing that takes away from creativity or letting players do their thing, but there’s going to be an extra onus on playing well in our own end,” added Tippett.

While the Oilers certainly need to improve in their own end, they weren’t exactly deadly on offence. They were 20th in goals for and didn’t generate much outside of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins.

It’s hoped that new acquisition, James Neal, will give the Oilers another threat up front. He only had seven goals last season but had scored at least 20 in every other year since breaking into the league in 2008.

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“Very motivated player. The players see that around right now in the dressing room,” said Tippett.

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“He has lots to prove. He has lots to give still. I think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”

“He’s a dangerous player. He’s one of those guys, you really don’t want him to heat up as an opponent,” said Draisaitl. “He’s going to have someone to play with here who’s going to be able to find him.”

The Oilers open training camp with medicals and physicals on Thursday. They’ll be on the ice on Friday. Their first pre-season game is Monday, Sept. 16, at home against Winnipeg.

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