Well, I can't say they didn't show up at all for this one. The first period was a perfect example of how you must execute when you have the chances or it will come back and bite you. This team came out and played one of their better offensive periods but kept either making mistakes with the puck or allowing Washington to block their shots. Part of this would seem to come from Eakins silly push to have the players peer pressure each other in to putting more pucks at the net. I've said it a ton of times by now - this isn't what good teams do. None of them. The shots are the product, not the cause. Good teams take shots when 1) They have a clear lane and a scoring chance, as Eberle should have on one of his early scoring chances where he ended up going back hand instead. Holtby was down and done, Eberle had the top shelf all day and made a bad decision; and 2) when the opposition is shifting directions with traffic. They can't effectively block shots when you're forcing them to move.
So then Ovechkin scores the first goal and the team wasn't the same from that point. The frustration set in, any remaining patience was gone to be replaced with frustration, and there was really no chance to win after that. The post game commentary seemed to give them credit for 40 solid minutes...no way. Any first 40 where you haven't scored isn't any good.
A lot of our troubles tonight stemmed from the inability to transition from our own zone. The defencemen have all adopted (or been forced to adopt, who knows) the approach of "just get it out". The thing is, this doesn't work in the NHL and it REALLY doesn't work against a team as talented as the Capitals. They have so much depth up front it is astounding, and their D has adopted a style that suits the rest of the squad well enough that they can be effective and create turnovers. Loose pucks are really all you need when that group of forwards have your back.
I haven't seen one game this year where the Oilers have looked like they were going to dominate. MAYBE parts of the Winnipeg game. Maybe. They are at best coming at the opposition in fits and starts, with extremely fragile psyches, a system that is very much a work in progress, a horrible PP that for some stupid reason relies on stopping at the blue line and backwards passes, a D crew who are allergic to generating offensive chances and spotty goaltending. It is no wonder they aren't winning.
I don't buy the "first game back home" stuff and if Eakins is already having to shorten practices etc then he has overplayed his hand and we will likely suffer for it before things get better. This team has so much that it needs to work on and they don't seem to be able to piece it together during games. Part of that is a lineup that has so little depth missing Hall, Gagner and Joensuu, but part of that is also the lack of comfort and lack of understanding of the system. None of the game is instinct right now. It is kind of a goofy line at this point, but as Maverick once said, if you think, you're dead. This game has to be a patient and controlled one, but reactions need to be happening much faster and more consistently. The amount of guys running into each other on this team right now, either literally or getting stuck in the same lane, is huge.
- Certainly not as shaky as when he left to start the road trip. The shots that beat him were pretty good except for Chimera's second goal as he was down way too early, AGAIN. Other than that he was solid. He did enough that this team should have had a chance anyway.
- So, we finally saw Jeff Petry take a slap shot. I'd be impressed except for the fact that he had the chance to take about 8 and only even tried to get away one. For those of you who saw the last seconds of the game, as Petry double, triple, quadruple clutched then started heading the wrong way when he could have gone to the net multiple times...can someone tell me what exactly he was doing? Is this guy so unsure of himself and his ability to get the thing away that he does that? He can drive the net and take on all kinds of opposition but he can't shoot even when he has room? It makes no sense.
- Got burned badly on a couple of occasions and also had some nasty giveaways. I want to see Grebeshkov try to generate some rushes for this team instead of Schultz trying to play the boring game and still giving up chances.
- Hit and miss. He had some trouble pulling the trigger as well but didn't get the chances Petry did. Went down into the offensive zone a couple times and let loose a nice wrister as well. Struggled some in the defensive zone. He needs to lean more on the mean side of his game and he hasn't quite figured that out yet. Passing was a mixed bag.
- One of the better games I've seen him play this year though still not as good as he can be. 3-5 good offensive reads including the one that led to his goal. Struggled with shooting from the point. He did stop Ovechkin with a nice poke check in the second, but also got caught running around against that line several times.
- Meh, he played fine. I liked that he went after Mike Green near the end and managed not to get a penalty.
- Also fine, though he especially did not have a good night in terms of getting the puck up to his forwards in a way that let them break out and rush down the ice.
- Okay, this annoys me. This line did not have a "good night". They did have one really nice shift in the second where they held the Capitals in and got some chances. That's great, I'm not complaining but it also doesn't mean they didn't get hemmed in their own zone multiple times. They did. They also had some hits and Eager zinged one that probably should have gone in. They were okay...but if Eakins is realizing that he needs a fourth line who can play, we need a much more talented one than this crew.
- Saddling Gordon with these two was cruel and unusual punishment. He played a fine game, doing all the little things we've already come to expect from him and even getting a couple decent chances. I was hoping Pitlick would build on his game in MTL but he did not. He was perpetually behind the play, did nothing with the puck and even got pushed around. That doesn't work when you're not going to generate offense. Ryan Jones got praise from a lot of people tonight because he pushed three guys over (all "highlight hits" where he used his arms instead of his body to push guys who were off balance) and a blocked shot when the game was over. Make no mistake, this was the typical Ryan Jones skate everywhere accomplishing nothing game. You know who a good team has instead of Ryan Jones? Jason Chimera. That's who we need. Start measuring against that yardstick rather than the pile of junk that's been on the ice the past few years and it becomes clear that the bottom six aside from Gordon is nowhere near good enough at present.
- I really wanted to see Arcobello good tonight. Honestly I tried very hard after what looked on TV like good efforts on the road and got the man points. He did nothing tonight. He simply tried in vain to keep up with Perron and Hemsky. He could not. Perron played quite well and Hemsky wasn't far behind, but they seemed to stumble over each other a bit. Their games may be a little too similar in terms of what they do with the puck (aside from Perron being a bit more of a shooter) and the lanes they pick. They even collided in the second period. Hemsky found Perron for what should have been a goal around that time as well but it didn't work out. They were probably better in the second than the other lines but it wasn't enough.
- What a weird game. Eberle comes out like a house on fire, charging past everyone either with the puck or to get a pass, could have had six by the middle of the second and ends up with none. Near the end of the first Ovechkin scores off the draw and the dive to a minus 4 game begins...so what happened on that goal? I'm still struggling with why Yakupov was headed to Ovechkin when he's the LW and Eberle just stands there doing nothing even though by all hockey logic I know, when a winger is back like that it is his man to take...what was going on there? The line continued to play decently enough in the offensive zone, but was putrid in their own zone including multiple times getting hemmed in by the Capitals. Not a good combo. Eberle and Yakupov especially just didn't work together well. No one is setting up #64's powerplay shot (which if you remember was a big issue early last season) - instead Eberle is sending no-look passes to Schultz? What?? Had to be a frustrating night for them because of how many chances they got early, but that's no excuse for what happened later. I did like that Hopkins kept going until the end, but everyone on this line had way too many shots blocked due to bad decision-making, either too slow or not making a quick move to secure a lane. Yakupov needs to have the coach simplify things and Eakins seems to have no interest. Not good.
Break up the "top line". They're not any good. Eakins won't do this the right way and promote Gordon, but you can't keep giving up what 64-93-14 did tonight. It won't win games.