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Coach Jay Woodcroft wants Edmonton Oilers to play with speed and simplicity

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It’s been 18 days since Jay Woodcroft became the interim head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. Over nine games, the Oilers have gone 6-3.

Speaking on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Monday, Woodcroft reflected on the plane ride from Bakersfield to Edmonton on Feb. 10 when he was selected to replace Dave Tippett.

“I wanted to make sure, simple in our messaging, that we didn’t try to overcomplicate things by changing a whole bunch of different areas,” said Woodcroft.

“We have belief in this team. I just thought there was an area or two that we should put initial emphasis on. That, quite frankly, has been our work back to our own zone and to try to tighten up some things with our rush coverages, our defensive coverages.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers lose tight game to Carolina Hurricanes

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With Woodcroft at the helm, the Oilers have outscored the opposition 23-14 at five-on-five. Before the coaching change, the Oilers were -12 at five-on-five.

However, the Oilers penalty kill remains a problem. Under Woodcroft, it’s just at 75 per cent. For the season, it’s 25th out of 32 teams at 76.4 per cent.

“We’ve begun to adjust some small things as we move forward. I do believe some good practice time on it will help us. We’ve brought in Brad Malone who can play on the penalty kill up front,” explained Woodcroft.

The Oilers have 29 games remaining and are tied with Dallas for the final wild card spot in the West, though the Stars do have a game in hand. For the Oilers to make the playoffs, their target should be to earn at least 60 per cent of their remaining available points.

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Read more: Mikko Koskinen and Derek Ryan shine in Edmonton Oilers victory

“Our group is going to continue with speed and simplicity. We’re not going to be over enamoured with complexity. We’re going to play hard,” said Woodcroft. “I would like the fan base to know that we’re working to make them proud of us.”

The Oilers play game four of their five-game road trip Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers (630 CHED Face-off Show at 3:30 p.m., game at 5 p.m.).

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