Last night in Anaheim the Edmonton Oilers played arguably their biggest game of the season. Stud goalie Cam Talbot had a rough night but no one should go hard on him as he has been a horse this year and played well almost every night. He’s allowed to have an off night. The real reason the Oilers lost , in my opinion, is because they decided not to gap up…on every single goal. Let’s break it down goal by goal.
At the 0.50 second mark Darnell Nurse and Eric Gryba don’t gap up and give up the blueline uncontested and for no apparent reason. It’s a simple 2×2 with all three forwards coming back to help out so there is no reason why Nurse and Gryba don’t gap up, hold the blueline and try to force an earlier play. Sure it’s a muffin by Talbot but Nurse and Gryba clearly don’t do their jobs either.
At the 1:25 mark both Nurse and Gryba again decide not to gap up and simply let the Ducks enter the zone untouched and with ease. At 1:28 Gryba points at Lindholm for Zach Kassian to pick him up. I have no idea why he does this as F3 is entering the zone and David Desharnais is covering him so it should be a simple 2-2 coverage where Gryba covers Lindholm as he drives the net. Kassian then loses position and doesn’t stay goalside on Lindholm. As the pass comes over neither Gryba or Kassian are able to get position and break up the play. Bad defensive plays all around. If Nurse and Gryba simply gap up and hold the blueline none of this ever happens and the play is most likely is broken up early.
At the 1:43 mark Patrick Maroon turns the puck over but gets back to cover and ends up playing defence with Adam Larsson. Both Larsson and Maroon back right in to the top of the dots and allow a shot which alludes Talbot. I get that Maroon doesn’t play defence but it’s still a gapping issue that causes the goal. Two forwards are providing back pressure again so the defence need to tighten that gap and force the play earlier.
At the 2:03 mark Jordan Eberle gets tripped up and turns the puck over creating a 3-2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hustles back to the middle of the ice but both Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell back right in. Russell to the top of the dots and Sekera to right in front of the net. Rakell shows some good hands and snipes one. Russell was soft on the play but yet again it starts with a terrible gap from the defencemen.
I would venture a guess that the coaching staff will being going over this a lot this morning with the team to correct this issue. I don’t know why the defencemen decided to not gap up last night but luckily for the team they get right back at it tonight against a terrible Colorado team. I can’t see the team having any fear of the Avalanche so I expect tight gaps all night long.
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