With the game in Washington in the books, and another lack lustre effort from the Oilers in a one-sided loss, the staff here at Copper & Blue have a number of questions. One thing that, to date, Dallas Eakins deserves full credit for as Head Coach of the Oilers is his forthrightness in addressing the media. Unfortunately, the current mainstream media does not see fit to challenge the coach, or really anyone about the decisions that are being made.
Dallas Eakins seems like a stand up guy. I actually believe that if he was posed these questions, he'd be willing to answer them. It's likely that we wouldn't necessarily agree on some of his responses, but we're incredibly curious as to what those answers might be.
If you're reading this, take the time to tweet a link to this post. Please, copy Dallas Eakins (@DallasEakins). Who knows, maybe if he receives it enough times, he'll address some of this stuff publicly, or at least second guess some of things being questioned in future games.
So, without further delay, Copper & Blue presents our post-game questions for Dallas Eakins:
- For the last few games, the team has appeared to be drastically out of place in the defensive zone on numerous occasions. It's obvious that there is a commitment to applying puck pressure in the defensive zone, but it appears to be coming at the expense of sound full zone coverage. What are your plans for addressing the positioning struggles associated with the swarm defence?
- What is the logic behind coming out of the second intermission, when down 4-1 and start your 4th line? Particularly when on the road and the home side gets last change with a fully rested bench?
- There were multiple occasions when the Gazdic-Acton-Brown line was out against the Ovechkin line in the third period. What was the thought process behind that given the score of the game?
- Despite the lack of success on the penalty kill, the team continues to employ a large number of the forwards, specifically some of the top offensive players on the PK. Has there been any thought given to reducing the number of players being used on the PK and consolidating the responsibilities around a smaller group to see if they can find success?
- There appeared to be a shift in deployment tonight in that Jeff Petry, who is typically employed more in defensive situations, saw his PK time greatly reduced and played much more on the powerplay than he has in previous games. What was the impetus for that decision?
- Given the defensive struggles of Justin Schultz this season, can you explain two consecutive healthy scratches for Nail Yakupov that are being justified by his play away from the puck while Schultz remains in the line-up despite his obvious struggles in that same area?
- You preach accountability and praise Andrew Ference for being a professional who is showing the locker room how to win. How much responsibility does he have to take for the start?
- Was it potentially a mistake to keep as many goaltenders in camp as the team did for a large part of the pre-season given how both of the organization's NHL netminders are struggling early in the season?
- On a night when your top line was consistently losing the possession battle, which, to their credit, is uncharacteristic thus far in the season, did you consider rolling the Mark Arcobello and Boyd Gordon lines more in the third period to try and jump start the offense?
- The Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin line controlled much of the play when they were on the ice, but the Gordon line had great success against them. Was that a match-up you were looking for, and if so, how did the Capitals avoid it so well?
- Given that the two lines that were finding success in the most possession battle were the Gordon and Arcobello lines, and the team needed goals to get back in the game, it seems a curious decision to send the 4th line out on five separate occasions in the final 20 minutes, especially when the Caps were able to match them with the Ovechkin line multiple times during that stretch. With the need for immediate offence, why was the 4th line used so heavily?
We may add to this list, but in the short time since the game has concluded, these are the ones that come top of mind to our staff.
We would genuinely love to hear responses to these and other questions by Dallas Eakins. There's a lot I like about what he has done thus far in the season, but he is continuing to make some of the egregious errors that Ralph Krueger made last season that contributed to such a disastrous season. It would be very interesting to know why he feels that his team can succeed by using some of the same strategies with which Krueger's team failed?
There are a number of improvements on this team between last year's group at the 2013/14 roster, but by not maximizing the opportunities by deploying the players in optimal situations, the team is re-living some of their past mistakes, and with their current struggles in their own zone, poor choices are something they cannot overcome right now.