At this time last year, Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was on the ice, preparing his team for their first round playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.
Fans in Edmonton were willing to pay almost anything to get tickets, and many thousands were excited for the chance to watch road games on the big screen at Rogers Place.
On Monday, there was no practice, and instead McLellan met with the media to talk about a season that saw his team miss the playoffs and finish in 23rd place.
“We just didn’t play well enough this year,” McLellan said. “We didn’t get enough out of the coaching staff, and the players. When you have a year like that, you end up where we did. Last year, we got more than we could out of the team and we ended up at an upper level. We’re somewhere in between.”
A highlight of the season was the fact that captain Connor McDavid won the Art Ross trophy, given to the NHL’s leading scorer, for the second straight season. McDavid had 41 goals and 67 assists for a total of 108 points.
The team has a lot to work on in the off-season to get back to the playoffs next year, McLellan said. That includes a lot analysis to figure out what was missing.
“It’s not just putting the skates on and let’s skate faster,” he said. “It’s executing faster. It’s reading quicker. Our team has to get better at that. The pieces may very well be in there. We have to challenge them and approach it in a certain way to get more out of them.”
McLellan said he takes the blame for all of the team’s shortcomings this year.
“The performance of the team is on my shoulders,” he said. “I’m the head coach, and I accept responsibility for that.”
As 16 NHL teams prepare for the playoffs, scheduled to start on April 11, Oilers fans are left to look forward to the draft lottery. The team has a five per cent chance of winning the lottery to get the first overall pick.
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