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Oilers, Wild on successful runs following coaching changes

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Hyman as Hurricanes defenceman Brett Pesce, right, closes in during NHL action on Dec. 6, 2023, in Edmonton. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press) Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Hyman as Hurricanes defenceman Brett Pesce, right, closes in during NHL action on Dec. 6, 2023, in Edmonton. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)
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Tonight's game at Rogers Place (7 p.m.) features two teams on winning runs soon after a coaching change.

Well, mostly.

The Minnesota Wild, who face the host Edmonton Oilers Friday night, had their four-game win streak under new bench boss John Hynes snapped Thursday night in a 2-0 Canucks win in Vancouver. Hynes replaced Dean Evason last week.

The Oilers bring a five-game winning run to Rogers Place under head coach Kris Knoblauch, who replaced Jay Woodcroft 10 games ago. Knoblauch has gone 7-3 as coach since taking over Nov. 13.

The Oilers have outscored the opposition 26-8 over their five-game win streak, while the Wild have an 18-7 edge over their last five games.

CONFIDENCE KEY TO TURNAROUND

Oilers forward Zach Hyman, who scored his second hattrick of the season and third of his career in Edmonton's previous game and leads the club in goal-scoring with 15, said Knoblauch's "new spin on things" has helped propel the team up the NHL standings after a horrendous 3-9-1 start to the season, as has an overall rise in confidence.

"As things start to turn and we get a little more of the bounces, too, I think things compound positively, too, whereas I think when we were in that rut, we weren't necessarily playing horribly, it was just the compounding of a number of things that when things go bad, they seem to always go bad, and when things go well, you want to keep that feeling," Hyman told reporters Friday morning at Rogers Place following the Oilers' pre-game skate.

"We're getting some good bounces, we're getting some great goaltending, we're buying into the system. I think we're tracking back hard as forwards. I think our defencemen are holding lines. I think we're doing all those little things that make you successful."

PUCK PROTECTION A PLUS

Knoblauch outlined what has made Hyman successful so far this season, including how well the winger plays the puck — "the biggest thing is how hard he is to check, how well he protects the puck and uses his body doing that," the coach said Friday — and how he protects it on scoring chances.

"(Hyman is) very good on the forecheck, and that starts with putting pucks in nice places where you can recover them," Knoblauch told reporters.

"It's such a small detail but it's something that needs a nice touch, putting pucks in nice spots and not getting turned over."  

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