Welcome to NHL coaching, Adam Oates.
He had six days to implement a new system with his Washington Capitals. He envisions a hybrid between Bruce Boudreau’s go-go style and Dale Hunter’s defensive-minded theme.
The result in Game 1 was resounding 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay.
Let’s look at what went wrong:
- The Capitals played terrible team defense. Miscommunication and poor positioning left lots of open lanes for the talented Lightning forwards to skate, pass and shoot.
- Poor discipline led to eight Capitals penalties and three power-play goals (in seven attempts) for Tampa Bay. Giving the Lightning an opportunity to operate 5 on 3 is never a good idea.
- Washington failed to connect on two early power-play opportunities. That allowed the Lightning to settle in and tilt the ice against the visitors.
- Conditioning was problematic for those Capitals who haven’t been playing. “Some of the mistakes came from conditioning. We got tired at times, the game went in waves,” Oates told the Washington Post. “They had a couple waves on us and wore us out. Just the amount of ice time the guys got and being a little bit out of shape took its toll.”
- The extensive penalty killing kept Oates from rolling his lines and defensive pairings. He started 11 forwards and seven defensemen, in part because most of his D-men were idle during the lockout. Defenseman Jack Hillen departed with a shoulder injury midway through the game.
- Veteran defenseman Tom Poti returned from a two-year NHL absence. He was rusty and it showed. He earned an assist, but also a minus-2 rating.
- Goaltender Braden Holtby allowed six goals, but Oates defended the lad’s work. “You know what, I don't fault Holts at all on the goals,” he said. “I think it was more all of us. And he played hard. Once again I'll talk to the goalie coach and we'll evaluate that on Monday.”
- The most effective Capitals forward was mucker Joel Ward, who scored twice by attacking the net. That is great for Ward, but where were his more talented teammates?