So, I'm not seeing it.
I didn't see whatever it is everyone and the Coach claim to have seen tonight. I didn't see the Oilers play an improved game tonight. Can someone point me to what exactly these guys are watching that led them to this conclusion?
I saw a team that couldn't get sustained pressure in the offensive zone all night. Ever.
I saw a team that couldn't even enter the zone on the powerplay. It was pathetic. This thing should have been over on PP chances alone.
Is a team doing these two things ever going to have a successful game? Nope.
Eakins made a few mistakes tonight and it is important to look at them:
- Arcobello playing with Hall and Eberle. He might as well have put a boat anchor on each. #26 couldn't keep up. Plain and simple. This completely ruins your rush offense as well as quick attacks to the net. A perfect example happened in the second period when Eberle drove the slot and saw a teammate to his left in the open ice. If this were Hopkins, a great scoring chance was there for the taking. Arcobello couldn't get close. Could he be useful on our fourth line right now? Sure. You can't have him here though.
- He played the fourth line in our own zone after they'd been hemmed in the shift before - then kept playing them afterwards even though they had another sequence of being completely boxed in.
- Claiming that the PP's issue is shooting, rather than the fact that they're all bobbling the puck, getting out of position and making bad passes is both wrong and misleading to his players. Eberle was already listening to this tripe. If this had been the order of the day, Smyth's goal doesn't happen (the shoot morons were yelling the whole time that Schultz and then Hopkins had the puck, thankfully both made the right play). Shooting when there are blockers in the zone can only be done when the play is in motion. This powerplay isn't moving anyone around at the moment. Would it kill someone to buzz the slot every now and again?
- Eakins is not picking up on the fact that his defensive scheme isn't working at the top of the zone. Where other teams have had intense pressure on our point men and created attacks off bad pinches, we have backed way off, either allowing a shot or a passing play to develop. This work work with the level of talent on NHL blue lines. It needs to be fixed. It is also hampering the breakout.
- Not elevating Boyd Gordon. He needed to play with Hemsky-Hall or Eberle-Perron tonight. No sense in leaving him tied to Smyth. The guy had been on a roll and this game derailed it.
Getting away from Eakins, I will give credit to the Canadiens for playing a reasonable game. They were tough in the defensive corners. I don't think the Oilers won a single 50-50 battle down low. They missed Joensuu big time in this game. Even a guy like Omark, who could have slowed the play and sent the puck to the net, would have been useful. An offensive juggernaught the Habs were not.
Their fans were annoying as always. I never will understand cheering like they're watching a european soccer game. Not in Canuck territory, but not enjoyable to be sure.
It is true that MTL's second and third goals should have never happened. Goal #2 saw a trip right in front of our net, and Andrew Ference got picked to created the 2-on-1 on the third goal. Why in hell he was pinching like that I have no idea, but that doesn't change the fact that there was a penalty there. The thing is, it wouldn't have mattered anyway. We had nothing offensively aside from some posts that came off of rush plays.
If that's better, we're in a heap of trouble.
- It took him a while to settle in, but he kept the team in the game long enough that they should have been able to take control. Not saying he couldn't have stopped some of them but he was good enough really.
- Needs to be better. Didn't play a physical game, didn't get his shot away, didn't exactly dominate defensively either. Here's the thing - I know I get frustrated with Petry faster than most people, but that's because I see the toolbox he's working with and expect more. He has very few games in which he takes control. Ugly effort on that two-on-one. He took away nothing.
- Better game than the last few but not amazing. Made some hits. Decent D.
- Too aggressive playing with Justin Schultz. Got a couple shots at the net and that's okay. Again, decent defense but certainly not dominant. Big mistake on the third goal as noted above. He can't be doing that.
- He's not making the dynamic offensive plays that make his game worthwhile. Just isn't moving at the same pace and that was evident tonight. Second guessing his passes maybe?
- Got blown by on a couple of rushes. This is what I view as his principle mistake and he still hasn't corrected it. Not making strong passes going out of the zone. I wonder if he's headed for the PB for a game or two in the not too distant future.
- Not a great game. Some very small episodes of brilliant passing but he also got caught flat footed a couple of times that really stick out for me and didn't get his shot through all that effectively. Needs to be making decisions at a higher speed than tonight.
- Whole lot of running around doing nothing. Probably the main culprit when the fourth line got caught in the zone because even though he's "speedy", he changes direction so slowly that a team like MTL throws him out of position in a heartbeat. Bad.
- Showed why he can't be a regular in this league when Hall broke in with him. He had absolutely no clue what to do. Even a guy like Georges Laraque would have driven the net with his stick on the ice. Acton was caught looking around and totally flat. No defensive gold to bail out his weak wingers. I do like that he's not afraid to muck it up in a scrum, but especially when he's not winning draws, that isn't enough.
- Had the one good sequence of a hard hit drawing a fight that should have also produced a PP through the instigator rule. Other than that, he struggled more than previously to help in the defensive zone and get the puck out. If I had my druthers he'd stay longer than Brown but I doubt he does.
- I'll give him this - I'd take him on the fourth line because in only a few minutes a night he could probably drive the net well enough to make a difference. His goal and another very similar play that didn't result in a goal were clear examples of that tonight. The thing is, when the puck isn't next to the net he's absolutely lost. Every time the puck game his way, he either lost it immediately or took so long to do anything that Montreal simply took the puck away. He went offside multiple times because he couldn't turn. He was undisciplined and easily frustrated. If he's not on the fourth line or in the PB when Joensuu returns, something is very wrong.
- Disappeared into the background a bit tonight. I'm blaming his linemates but perhaps he was just more focused on D tonight due to his assignment. Still strong on the dot but he got lots of PP time and was not a contributor.
- Looked lost out there. You can almost see the gears trying to turn and just not quite click in. He's not instinctively skating to the open areas and the team has forgotten how effective they can be when the puck flows through #64. Then he got frustrated and played an even more limited game. Needs to relax, have some fun and get back to playing his game.
- Pretty decent for most of the game. Hit a couple posts and made some guys miss. Struggled a little at the opposition blue and was not effective on the powerplay. Was very effective when played with Hopkins and Hall. This combo should have stayed together.
- Said all I really want to say earlier. He does nothing but frustrate me in that role.
- So, I don't know about you, but my go-to play when there's nothing available or I'm being checked is not to simply throw a behind-the-back no-look pass. Apparently Perron thinks this is a good idea, as he did it tonight several times. Unless you have Wayne Gretzky reading your mind from somewhere else on the ice, this play just won't work. Perron was also a tad distracted by the scrums tonight and didn't push the play in a meaningful way.
= Struggling. Stepped it up after he got nailed in the third. Simply not creating opportunities to get his shot away. I get the sense the constant line shuffling is frustrating him. Still, he needs to be better than this at creating dangerous opportunities.
- Another pretty solid game from him. Can definitely run with the minutes he's being given no problem. Landed several good hits where he was on the defensive side of the play and prevented the MTL attacker from advancing. Classic example of how you can hit effectively as a medium sized player.
- Not what he needs to be. Kept getting to the opposition blue and passing BACKWARDS. Made absolutely no sense. He's another guy who looks like he's trying really really hard to learn the system and pay attention to where he's going rather than just playing. I've never seen him so lost on the breakout and rush as he is right now.
Overall I see a confused team who is out there training rather than playing. They need to figure this out quickly or the losses will pile up fast enough that they kill you at the end of the year. You can't be having to think everything through in your head on the ice. You need to be reading and reacting. Too many players on this team are doing that.