Game Notes: Oilers @ Capitals — Jack Campbell Needs to Improve

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Jack Campbell didn’t hold back critiquing his play after Saturday’s 6-2 loss v. Dallas. “Frankly, it’s just been pathetic the way I’ve been playing,” he said.
It was an honest and accurate assessment.
— In his eight starts Campbell has a .874Sv% and an ugly 4.20 GAA. His goals against by game has been 3, 4, 4, 1, 3, 5, 4, and 6. The crazy part is the game he allowed one goal he lost 1-0.
He’s won five games and he’s allowed 3, 4, 3, 5, and 4 goals in those games. That isn’t a recipe for long-term success. He needs to be better, and he knows it.
— “I just haven’t brought my best,” he said after Saturday’s loss. “I owe it to this team to bring my A-game, and they haven’t seen it yet.” The good news for the Oilers is they’ve managed to win five of his eight starts despite him not playing at the level he wants. But, at some point he needs to find his game. Maybe it is best if Skinner starts a few more games and Campbell gets more practice time with goalie coach Dustin Schwartz. Rarely do goalies find their A-game in games. It starts in practice where they focus on fundamentals and a return to basics.
— The Oilers play Washington tonight and Tampa Bay tomorrow, so Campbell will start one of them. I’d understand if they start him tonight against the injury-riddled Capitals. You save Stuart Skinner for the more dangerous Tampa Bay Lighting. Or they start Skinner tonight because the Oilers want to ensure they pick up at least two points. I see both sides, and both make sense, but I’d go with Campbell tonight, and then I’d go Skinner Tuesday and Thursday and give Campbell some practice time to work out the kinks. I’d rather have my best goalie against the Lightning.
— Jay Woodcroft mixed his lines at practice. He had Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljuarvi with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl centred Zach Hyman and Evander Kane, while Ryan McLeod was between Warren Foegele and Derek Ryan. Dylan Holloway is centering Devin Shore and Kailer Yamamoto.
— If you were going off of recent play, Derek Ryan or Dylan Holloway would be moved up with McDavid.
Holloway and Ryan, along with Devin Shore, have had some jump. Granted in limited minutes, and not against elite competition, but when they’ve been on the ice they’ve had more quality chances and shots. Holloway’s giveaway in the New Jersey game wasn’t ideal, of course, but those two have been better than Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi. If you were going simply on recent play, those two would be the ones getting promoted (Ryan did get bumped up to the third line).
— If you look at the entire season, the complementary forwards looking to earn spots in the top six haven’t done much.
Foegele has better possession numbers across the board than Puljujarvi, and they’ve played a fair amount together. Yamamoto and Puljujarvi have done very little thus far, so I understand why Woodcroft is making a switch, but no one should suggest Puljujarvi has played great to earn this promotion. It is more the coach hoping a change will help. I do wonder if Holloway gets a bump soon, although he has played centre recently, so maybe they will keep him on the fourth line getting comfortable with having more responsibilities.
— Devin Shore has had a lucky PDO, but his overall numbers have been very solid for a fourth line guy in limited minutes. He’s outshooting, outscoring, and out chancing the opposition. If you wonder why he’s in the lineup, just look at all his numbers.
— Woodcroft needs one of Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, or Foegele to get some offensive confidence 5×5. He’s been patient with them. I’d argue Foegele has played the best of the three, but he isn’t a top-six player long term. If neither of the $3m AAV right wingers get going soon, Woodcroft will have to give young Holloway a look.
— The Capitals are ravaged by injuries. Nicklas Backstrom hasn’t played a game, and he might not play all season. Tom Wilson is still recovering from ACL surgery. Carl Hagelin hasn’t played due to a hip injury. Connor Brown played four games before tearing his ACL.  TJ Oshie played nine games and is now out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Beck Malenstyn is out 6-8 weeks with a fractured finger. John Carlson missed the last four games and is a game time decision tonight. And Dmitri Orlov left Saturday’s game and won’t play tonight.
— The Capitals lost 3-2 to Arizona on Saturday and are winless (0-2-2) without Carlsson. Most teams can absorb and overcome a few injuries, but when the injuries take out too many of your key players, eventually it will catch up to you. Washington’s top six has been decimated and with Carlson and Orlov questionable, this is a game the Oilers need to win. They have to take advantage of a banged up Capitals squad.
— The injuries have significantly impacted Washington’s offensive output. They are 28th in GF/GP at 2.85, while the Oilers are fourth at 3.83. Washington is staying in games due to its defensive play as the team sits 11th in GA/GP at 2.85. Edmonton is 24th at 3.50. Edmonton needs to improve defensively, and get more consistent goaltending from Campbell.

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