EDMONTON, AB - On Monday morning, Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock clarified his post-game comments from Saturday following his side's 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
After saying "the coaches can't want it more than the players", Hitchcock was referring to the players' ability to play within their style of play and not their individual attitudes.
"I said the coaches can't want it, and I meant style of play, more than the players," the bench boss said. "The players have to want that style of play, and that's the ongoing dialogue and debate you get into with players all the time. Every coach goes through this. The way we have to play to win is a very difficult game, and we have to play that way to do it. It's very challenging, physically-demanding, it's not fun, but it's the way we're built right now and the way we have to play."
Video: RAW | Ken Hitchcock 02.11.19
After a poised 4-1 performance on Thursday against the Minnesota Wild was followed up with defeat Saturday night at Rogers Place, the post-game message made for an intense Monday practice ahead of what will be a crucial three-game road trip beginning Wednesday night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.
"We were so excited with the way we played in Minny. It was a four-point game for both teams, and we really were steady the whole game," Hitchcock said. "I think all of us, including the players, expected that we were going to carry that on. But we didn't.
"It's a "roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty" message. Every day you're going to make mistakes. It's an emotional sport; it's not like we're shopping at the mall. Sometimes I say the wrong thing or the players say the wrong thing, or sometimes it doesn't work out. But then you come back to work, keep going, and you try to get guys to get a little bit of buy-in and you get more and more."
Hitchcock could not fault his players' frustrations following the defeat, and in tandem with the coaching staff, the players need to stay the course and embrace their style of play as the race for the postseason continues at its torrent pace.
"Everybody wants to win. It's more the style," he continued. "We have a formula that we think is successful, and we've got to be able to sell it and get the players to buy it. Some days we do it and we do it very successfully, and some days we're not as successful. But we still come back to work and roll up our sleeves to do it again."