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MAIN CAMP: Tippett instills 'five up, five back' system

Head Coach Dave Tippett put his five-man strategy to work at the first on-ice sessions of Oilers Training Camp

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Dave Tippett idled at centre ice, intermittently banging his stick and setting the pace as players rushed before him.

At the first on-ice session of Oilers Training Camp, the Oilers Head Coach put his 'five up, five back' strategy to work, having his players perform North-South drills as a five-man unit.

The bench boss declared what type of atmosphere he wanted to establish at Main Camp and Friday was his first chance to instill it.

"Intensity and work ethic," Tippett told the media from the Hall of Fame Room podium. "Attacking and defending. Five up, five back. Just about every drill was like that."

That was apparent for both groups that participated on Friday. It was a glimpse into how Tippett wants his team playing throughout the 2019-20 season.

Video: MAIN CAMP | Dave Tippett 09.13.19

"We got down to the nitty-gritty right away," Josh Archibald, who skated on a line with Riley Sheahan and Jujhar Khaira, said. 

"You got to pound it into our brains right away. That's how we're going to play every day and every game. It was important and it was a great start to Camp."

Forward James Neal, who suited up under Tippett early in his career with the Dallas Stars, was familiar with the scheme as he worked the ice alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner.

"He works a stiff system where he wants his guys working together all over the ice whether it's the offensive zone, neutral zone or defensive zone," Neal said.

"With the speed of our team, if we can defend quick and hard, and get pucks back and have possession of pucks, we'll be on the offence a lot more."

Video: MAIN CAMP | Josh Archibald 09.13.19

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who's getting acquainted with his ninth Oilers coach, expressed his thoughts on the new arrangement. 

"It's going to be five guys all over the ice," the centre, who has 147 goals and 382 career points in 539 games. "You always got to be on your toes ready to go, which I think is good. It's going to be an aggressive D zone.

"We were just working on a 3-on-1 drill where the D is attacking at all times. We're going to be putting pressure on them. We're not going to make things easy for other offensive pairs."

After putting blades to ice, the players appreciated getting acquainted with the early expectations for the campaign and believe it will help once the pre-season games begin. The Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

"You might think Training Camp is long but when you look at the big picture, it's really short," said Archibald. 

"Just being able to get down to it right away was a good start."

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