If only there was some way to know that putting Ference and Schultz out for OT was a bad decision.
I have been especially hard on the Oilers lately for not learning lessons that keep getting repeated. Turnover after turnover, lazy backcheck after lazy backcheck, drop passes all day every day. The coach has to be hammering these points home every single practice but last night the Oilers lost because Dallas Eakins refused to learn from his mistakes. That wasn’t on the players.
Make no mistake, Justin Schultz’ complete disregard for his team, the situation, and the position he plays is the reason the Oilers lost, but the loss is on Eakins because he should have known that putting Ference and Schultz on the ice together was a horrible, horrible idea. He is the one who put the players on the ice and there was no reason whatsoever that those two should have been playing at the same time.
WATCH THE GAME, NERD
I’m not even going to get into the facts just yet. If you had paid attention at all watching that game you could have seen Ference and Schultz were over-matched physically all night. The Jets were dropping the boom every chance they could. In fact, at one point Jultz was out of the game after he was dropped (on a play that should have been interference). When he was playing he avoided contact at all costs, as is his style, and poor Ference couldn’t handle the Jets all night by himself either.
The tying goal by Byfuglien was scored because it was physically impossible for Ference to handle big buff in front of the net. The little guy tried his heart out but that’s roughly 260 lbs of mean determination being handled by a guy who’s listed at 184. Even for a veteran who knows how to handle himself and use all his tools to their fullest that’s a tall order.
So Eakins paired Ference with a player who refuses to play a hard game at the beginning of OT and yet again the club takes it on the chin. But am I being too hard on Justin Schultz? I’ve been accused of just that this year.
Justin schultz. Careless and soft.
— Rod Phillips (@oilvoice37) December 4, 2014
Nope. It isn’t just me.
You don’t need to an excel spreadsheet to see that Schultz was terrible last night, especially when paired with Ference.
MAYBE YOU’RE JUST SEEING WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE
Maybe it was all in my head that the Jets really enjoyed playing against Justin Schultz last night. Sometimes you see things one way and the facts just don’t match.
However that just wasn’t the case last night.
From the opening faceoff (where starting lineup was Gazdic, Arco, Pinizzotto, Ference, and Schultz) the Jultz/Ference duo were atrocious. They started poorly and ended poorly. After the 1st Period HockeyStats.ca had Schultz and Ference at 20% and 21% respectively in Corsi For. That is to say that roughly 80% of the time when they were on the ice the puck was in Edmonton’s zone. That number is so bad that just that 1 period alone should have killed the experiment.
But it continued.
After the 2nd period Schultz and Ference were even worse. The pairing had sunk down to a 15% CF after 40 minutes. This is “Kill it with fire!” bad, if you aren’t sure what the numbers translate to in English. They could not get the puck out or stop a single Jet all night. Schultz took the hit and for a while Eakins used Ference with other players because Nikitin had also gone down with a back injury. It was as if the Hockey Gods were willing the Oilers to play their defensemen with some kind of common sense.
Alas, it was not to be.
Schultz returned and Eakins put the pair back together whenever possible. Schultz finished the night at 22% and Ference at 33%, obviously boosted after his time away from Jultz.
When Overtime reared its head the Coach made the decision that sealed the fate for the team. He was starting OT with Justin Schultz and Ference on the back end.
17 seconds was all it took. Schultz and Evander Kane arrived at the puck at the same time but possession for Winnipeg was never in doubt. Kane never even felt Schultz’ presence. Jultz made an empty gesture towards Kane. He pushed with his arms extended but on video it looks like Justin was doing his best to stay far away as he waved at Evander.
That left Ference in front of the net to clear the Jets forward. A task he had been unable to accomplish all night.
Shot from the point.
LEARNING FROM MISTAKES
The players aren’t the only ones who need to learn from their mistakes. It was clear what Justin Schultz was going to do before he did and the coach went ahead and put him out there when the game was on the line anyway. There are only so many times you should be allowed to make that mistake before you’re forced to sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.
Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference bring out the worst in each other. They have for 2 years. It’s even more pronounced this year and in that last game it was evident that icing them together was a mistake. Schultz in particular was terrible all night. He was exposed by the Jets with the physical brand of hockey they played and Dallas Eakins gift wrapped that game by throwing him over the boards again.
If a player is having a bad game the coach has to recognize that. That’s his job. Eakins couldn’t see what was right in front of his face and this losing streak has hit 11.
Justin Schultz made the soft play that lead to the loss, Dallas Eakins bears responsibility.