Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lesson Learned

For the first time this season, the 2015-16 addition of the Edmonton Oilers were handed the challenge of facing on offence juggernaut on Friday night over at Rexall Place. Despite having won three straight games and showing moderate improvement on a nightly basis, Todd McLellan’s side was brought back down to earth by the visiting Washington Capitals. 

While on the surface last night’s 7-4 final score may have some thinking “here we go again”, the reality of the situation is fairly obvious. From an offensive standpoint, the fact this team scored another four goals is certainly a positive and in today’s NHL when a team manages to put four pucks in the opposing teams net, they should usually walk away with two points in their pockets. 

However on this night, it was nowhere near enough and no one should have been surprised by how things played out. While the shot clock may not have been as one-sided as it was during Edmonton’s 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, the eye-popping blunders were just as plentiful against Alex Ovechkin and company. On that evening, Anders Nilsson stood on his head and gave his team a chance to win. 

That was not the case against the Capitals, as the towering netminder was torched for six goals against on just seventeen shots. The 25-year was unable to stop the bleeding, and his teammates gave him absolutely zero support. While the dynamic Evgeny Kuznetsov led the offensive onslaught for the Caps with a five-point effort, Edmonton’s defensive zone coverage was dreadful from start to finish and Washington had no problem exposing their blueline for what is was. 

After beating a trio of offensively challenged sides in the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, and Detroit Red Wings, these players must have felt going toe-to-toe against a Caps team who was playing their third game in four nights and starting their backup goalie was a good idea. Considering the Oilers had allowed eight goals over their previous four games, clearly they were misinformed. 

Todd McLellan was not a happy camper after the game and made his feelings known in his post-game interview. What made it even worse was the former San Jose Sharks’ bench boss had just finished telling the media earlier in the day that Edmonton would likely not be able to “outscore” the Capitals but could quite possibly “outplay” them. 

Unfortunately for him, his players were not listening and not surprisingly, things played out in the manner one might have guessed. With that said, a dose of reality is never a bad thing. While the previous three games were certainly steps in the right direction, let’s not forget, no one in their right mind said this was going to be easy. Lesson learned. 

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