Offensively, the Oilers have been able to pile on the shots this season (34.2 average shots/game – t-2nd in NHL) but haven’t been able to convert at a consistent rate with only 35 goals through 13 games – the fifth-lowest total in the League. Connor McDavid is currently on a goalless streak of eight games with 10 points (2G, 8A) in 11 contests this year after having 24 points (12 G, 12 A) through his first 11 games in 2022-23.
Along with his former exceptional-status junior forward turned NHL superstar, Knoblauch hopes to help ease the tension in the Oilers locker room from a slow start to their season and begin building relationships to figure out how to get the most out of his new players – a process that began in earnest on Sunday after his hiring and will continue Monday morning at the team’s pre-game skate before they host the Islanders.
“Right now, I want Connor and everyone just to take a breath, relax, play hockey and find some joy in it and play the way they can,” Knoblauch said. “Because right now, I just think there’s too much pressure on them and they’re feeling it.
“I think I need to get some more information from these guys and then I need to get to know my players. Hopefully, I can start tonight with some phone calls, but tomorrow when I meet with them, try and meet as many as possible and start building some relationships.
“I’m sure they’ll share their frustration. I’m sure a few of them will be hesitant about was this coaching change necessary. Some are going to be very excited about it, but I think in my career as a coach, I’ve done a pretty good job of connecting with my players, giving them an identity and working on them to become better players.”
“Tomorrow is going to be a big step. The first step.”