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GDB 19.0: Winning with Defence (1pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
The Washington Capitals are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games and on a five-game winning streak. Are they as talented as their record suggests? No, but they are winning with a stellar penalty kill and limiting goals against.
They haven’t generated a lot of offence, but they give up very little defensively.
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On the season the Capitals are tied for 29th in goals/game at 2.56, but during this 9-1-1 stretch they’ve scored 3.18 goals/game which ranks 17th.
Their powerplay had been dreadful all season at 6.7%. It is 6.9% in their last 11 games.
They are 30th in 5×5 goals with 27 and rank 20th during their heater with 23.
Overall, they are 10-4-2, and while they barely scored in their first five games — their offence has become average — they continue to limit goals against.
On the season, they are 7th in goals against/game at 2.69, their penalty kill is 11th at 83.3% and they are 10th in 5×5 goals against.
During their 11-game heater they are 2nd in GA/GP at 2.18, their PK is 1st at 96.2% and they are 11th in 5×5 goals against.
Their net PK is 103.9%, because they’ve scored two shorthanded goals and only allowed one.
They are winning with sound defence, and solid goaltending. Three different goalies have started games in their last 11, and all have solid numbers.
Charlie Lindgren is 4-0 with a .955Sv% and 1.51 GAA.
Hunter Sheppard is 2-0 with a .915Sv% and 2.50 GAA.
Darcy Kuemper is 3-1-1 with a .910Sv% and 2.53 GAA.
Washington goalies have allowed 20 goals in their last 11 games.
The Oilers’ goalies have allowed 39 in their last 11. That is not a typo.
I broke down the goals against vs. Carolina in Game Notes. Until the Oilers players commit to playing harder, playing smarter, being better positionally and more aware defensively, they won’t win. Kris Knoblauch doesn’t need to yell and scream. He simply needs to show video of their goals against.
The lack of defensive commitment is costing the Oilers games, and they are on the verge of being out of the playoff race by the end of November. This is Decade of Darkness bad.
Edmonton continues to struggle with the major gaffes that lead to goals against. They don’t spend a lot of time in their defensive zone. In fact, the Oilers rank fifth best in opponents offensive zone possession time. Their opposition is averaging 6:15 of offensive zone possession time. The problem is the Oilers allow far too many goals within the first 3-5 seconds of when their opposition enters the zone. They don’t make opposing teams work hard enough for their goals.
You’ve read this before, and I know it isn’t new, but until the Oilers play smarter, more determined defensive hockey the losses will keep mounting. Washington isn’t blessed with more talent than the Oilers, but right now they are ten times more committed defensively.
The Oilers have been horrific defensively on the road allowing 47 goals in 10 games. Yes, forty-freaking-seven. The only good news is Washington is averaging the fewest home goals/game in the NHL at 2.18 with 24 in 11 games.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Brown
Foegele – McLeod – Ryan
Erne – Hamblin – Gagner/Janmark
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Philip Broberg played a whopping five minutes on Wednesday. What is the point of dressing him if you won’t play him? Of course he will make mistakes when he plays so infrequently. He is likely out of the lineup today, and the Oilers will go 12-6. The above lines are what they ran in practice yesterday, and I assume is what they will start with tonight.
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid played 9:39 together at 5×5 in Carolina. They were outscored 3-0 and outshot 9-0. They were a trainwreck in their own zone. I don’t care if they want to play together, they haven’t shown enough of a defensive commitment or awareness when they are together this year to run them together regularly. In 145 minutes together they have been outscored 9-8. Draisaitl has been outscored 7-6 away from McDavid, while McDavid has been outscored 5-1 without Draisaitl. I understand very little is working right now, but they were terrible together against Carolina, and I’d run them on separate lines (outside of the odd shift after special teams) for the near future.

Hurricanes

Ovechkin – Strome – Wilson
Mantha – McMichael – Oshie
Milano – Lapierre – Protas
Malenstyn – Dowd – Aube-Kubel
Sandin – Carlson
Edmundson – Jensen
Alexeyev – van Riemsdyk
Kuemper
Alex Ovechkin needs one goal to join Wayne Gretzky as the only players with 900 or more goals in the regular season and playoffs combined. Ovie is also three points shy of 1,500 regular season points and when he reaches that milestone he’ll be only the eighth player in NHL history to score 1,500+ points with one franchise joining Gordie Howe (1809), Steve Yzerman (1755), Mario Lemieux (1723), Wayne Gretzky (1669), Joe Sakic (1641), Sidney Crosby (1524) and Ray Bourque (1506).
McDavid is currently seventh among active players for points with one franchise behind Crosby (1,524 in 1208 games), Ovechkin (1497 in 1363 GP), Evgeni Malkin (1247 in 1,081 GP), Anze Kopitar (1,154 in 1309 GP), Steven Stamkos (1,077 in 1,021 GP), Brad Marchand (881 in 965 GP) and McDavid has 866 points in 585 GP. I didn’t include Patrick Kane (1,225 in 1,161 GP with Chicago) or Nicklas Backstrom (1,033 in 1105 GP with Washington) because Kane won’t sign with Chicago and Backstrom’s career is likely over.
TJ Oshie scored his first goal of the season in Wednesday’s victory over Buffalo, and he’s been a streaky scorer in his career. Getting one could open the flood gates for him.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are 1-4-1 in six games in Washington in the McDavid-Draisaitl era, but they find a way to avoid going winless on this four-game road trip and pick up a 5-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers score first. Washington has scored first in only three of 11 home games.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor Brown scores his first of the season. An Oilers player scoring against his former team. It can happen.

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