Oilers’ Dave Tippett: ‘I think we can get up and running pretty quickly’

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett held a video conference call with reporters Tuesday from his home in Arizona. The NHL halted its season on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with the Oilers and the rest of the league in the midst of a playoff push. Edmonton currently sits second in the Pacific Division with 83 points.

Tippett was asked how he would imagine the season would resume, trying to look back at notes he took during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season as a guide. He said this is a different situation since he knows the players already.

“It’s not as if it’s a new season, but you’re going to have to get up and going pretty quickly,” Tippett said. “I look at our team, driven by the core players there, I think we can get up and running pretty quickly.”

Experiencing playoff push

Another topic discussed was the Oilers losing out on gaining experience of a playoff push, something Tippett believes can really benefit his young group.

“You get to those games where the intensity level is there, the pressure to win is there, and those are all things that you put in the memory bank,” Tippett said. “That’s in the regular season to get that playoff spot, and then you get into a playoff series.”

Tippett expanded on his thoughts saying that playoff series are different since you have to make game-to-game adjustments against one opponent. The first-year Oilers coach said you have to find different ways to win in the playoffs.

“As you continue to go through those scenarios, you build up more of that knowledge of what it takes to win in those scenarios.”

The St. Louis Blues are a prime example, Tippett said, of a team that went through multiple playoff pushes before winning the Stanley Cup last season.

“Now they’re a very confident group. They think if they come back, they have a chance to compete for a second Cup because they have that knowledge in place.”

Tippett says it could be an important learning experience for the Oilers.

“Those are things teams need to learn. Not just our team, but there are teams throughout the history of the league that goes through those experiences and then break through. We’d like to have some of those experiences, so hopefully, we get our kick at the can to break through.”

Contact with players

Tippett said he’s talked to a few players through text messages, but most of the contact has been with Edmonton’s strength and fitness personnel.

“There’s a bit of frustration on the players’ part because they want to play, but they all understand the gravity of what’s happening in the world right now and that patience is of the essence.”

For three players acquired before the trade deadline — defenseman Mike Green and forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis — they only got acclimated for a few weeks before the stoppage. Not getting the newly-acquired players in the flow is disappointing for Tippett.

“I talk about it all the time, we need rhythm in our lineup,” Tippett said. “You’re always trying to find that rhythm and chemistry throughout it. It was still a work in progress with our new guys and we had James Neal come back from a long-term injury, we had some people coming back in. I would have liked the last 11 games to evaluate that.”

Injury updates

Tippett said he believes Green and forward Joakim Nygard will both be back when play resumes. Green (sprained MCL) is still believed to be in Edmonton rehabbing while Nygard (hand) went back to Sweden to finish his rehab.

“Both of them, I think, would certainly be ready to go if we get around to starting again.”

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