Ken Hitchcock began his tenure with the Edmonton Oilers by sparking his new team with a comeback, that led to an overtime victory.
Hitchcock wasted no time making an impact to this team. He was hired on the same day the Oilers had a match-up against the San Jose Sharks. The only pre-game planning he was able to do was in his meetings with the assistant coaches before the game.
There wasn't even time for Hitchcock to have a morning skate with his new team, because he was busy flying to San Jose to make it in time for the game. It clearly showed that the Oilers weren't prepared for this game, because they were scored on 45 seconds into the game.
However, midway through the second period the Oilers started to look like they were buying into what Hitchcock was saying. They began starting to defend a lot better than what they're accustomed to.
In doing so, the Oilers were able to shutdown the Sharks in the third period, and were able to tie the game and force it into overtime. It was then a bouncing puck deflected off of Leon Draisaitl to win the game for the Oilers, and give Hitchcock a win in his Oilers' debut.
Hitchcock spoke to the media after the game, and talked about how he needed about four shifts to get an understanding of how the Oilers' system works. He said after that point he then began starting to adjust the lines.
The new Oilers head coach also spoke about how hard it was to remember his new players names during the game. He came up with many nicknames for each of the players on the team. Which ultimately helped in a way, because finally the Oilers looked like a complete team on the ice.
Connor McDavid reached a new milestone in Hitchcock's debut. McDavid became the fourth active player to score 100 goals before his 22nd birthday. He has carried the Oilers offensively all season long.
If the Oilers are going to climb out of this hole they have put themselves in, they will need McDavid to continue producing at the rate that he is now. They will also need Hitchcock to groom their defense to play better, in order to help Cam Talbot get back to the way he use to be playing.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Mid-season coaching changes has worked recently in the past. There's no reason for this one with the Oilers not to work as well. Hitchcock is exactly the type of coach the Oilers needed. He is a defensive minded coach, and he is also very capable of coming in right away and sparking a team.
We all saw how he can spark a team, like how he did it in his debut against the Sharks. For saying the Oilers have had a very bad stretch recently, they're currently only three points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Which means if the Oilers can find sustained success with Hitchcock, it won't be that hard for this team to find themselves back into a playoff spot.