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Pace of play next focus for Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers go after their fifth straight win Saturday afternoon when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.

The Oilers haven’t lost since Jay Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett as head coach last Thursday.

“The style we’re asking our players to play is a demanding one. There are principles in our game we’re going to continue to hammer on,” Woodcroft said. “For our players to be playing this style and to have success, I think it’s almost a virtuous loop.

“They’re putting the work in and they’re getting rewarded for it. They’re seeing the link between the work ethic and the results.”

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The Oilers have been given up fewer odd-man rushes in the four games since Woodcroft came in. They’ve also shown vast improvement five-on-five, outscoring their opponents 14-3.

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“Everybody is contributing. Everybody is on the same page. I think the forwards are helping out the D, coming through the middle, and the D are able to hold their line and hold their gap,” winger Zach Hyman said.

“As a forward, that’s frustrating when a team is able to keep you from entering the zone.”

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Woodcroft has said there’s not a lot of practice time in the Oilers schedule, so he’ll be selective in his focus. He’s set the next goal for playing in Winnipeg on Saturday and then home to Minnesota on Sunday.

“We think our pace of play can continue to improve. We want to speed things up. One of things we talk about is the pace through our puck movement,” said Woodcroft. “You’ll see a lot of emphasis on our D-men passing the puck well, getting it up into our forward’s hands.”

After Friday’s practice, Woodcroft said forward Jesse Puljujarvi will be out around four weeks with a lower body injury. He was hurt in the second period against Anaheim Thursday night.

The game against Winnipeg goes Saturday afternoon. The Face-Off Show starts at 12:30 p.m. on 630 CHED. Puck drop is at 2 p.m.

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