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Dave Tippett Finishes 13th In Jack Adams Voting

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Coach Tippett helped lead the Oilers to a successful regular season finish. What things can he improve on?

Edmonton Oilers v Ottawa Senators Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

I’ll be interested in seeing who cast those three third place votes for Coach Tippett.

Dave Tippett had a successful regular season. From the bench, he led the Oilers to a very respectable 35-19-2 record, good for 72 points and a second place finish in the makeshift Scotia North Division. Led by generational talent Connor McDavid (105 points in 56 games), Leon Draisaitl (84 points in 56 games) and the surprise goaltending from Mike Smith (.923 SV%, 21-6-2), Tippett and the Oilers cleared the playoff cut line by thirteen points.

I’m not going to complain about getting into the playoffs by thirteen points. I will tell you that Tippett’s inability to maximize his lineup is what cost him at least a few more third place votes en route to getting closer to the first place in Jack Adams Trophy votes.

THE VETS

Tippett loves his vets. Nowhere was this any more obvious than his benching of Caleb Jones for what seemed like forever. Caleb Jones played at least one shift in 33 games this season, which feels like about 18 more than he actually played in. I understand why Jones got sat down for a game or two after failing to get into the shooter’s lane while on the PK against Ottawa early in the season, but failing to get in the lane would cost him a chunk of games in a row. Evan Bouchard probably could have benefitted from more than 14 games played as well, though it will be argued that a right side of Barrie, Bear and Larsson was more of a complete set than whatever was going on the left side.

TAKE A TIMEOUT

I’d have to go back and look at exactly how many timeouts Tippett held onto for the duration of a game, but it was more than a few. One particular instance was in a game late in January where Connor McDavid had brought the Oilers to within one goal after having a 3-1 lead evaporate. With just a couple of minutes left, Tippett opted not to use his timeout and he ran James Neal, Kyle Turris and Zack Kassian instead of giving his best line a breather. Tippett couldn’t get his top guys out there fast enough and the Jets responded by scoring an empty netter to seal the deal 6-4. This wasn’t the only time Tippett sat on his timeout, it’s just the one I remember most.

PLAY SKILL

The most frustrating part of Tippett’s coaching style is that he seems to play his skill guys as a last resort. This goes a bit back to his hesitency to play Caleb Jones a bit. He wasn’t hesitant to play Kris Russell in Jones’ spot, and he wasn’t hesitant to play William Lagesson on the second pair with Adam Larsson. Ennis-RNH-Puljujärvi doesn’t look like the worst thing in the world, but that bottom six is not so hot. They’re missing Dominik Kahun in the lineup here, and Devin Shore is up at least one line too high. Ennis-Nugent-Hopkins-Puljujärvi didn’t become anything at all during the season, and putting all your eggs in one basket with a Draisaitl - McDavid line 5 on 5 makes the rest of the lines go sideways a fair bit.

Dave Tippett will have a few more weapons to work with after this year’s free agent period. If he’s to have a more successful 2021-22, he’ll do well to optimize his lines with the best possible player personnell available to him.