AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Final score: 5-2.
The Oilers are far from a perfect team, no doubt. But boy oh boy, would it be nice to have some consistent goaltending. BaggedMilk has the Wrap Up.
Worth noting off the top that Mike Smith was supposed to speak to media, but he was getting treatment done by the medical staff, as noted by The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman.
On the game, what was missing: “Just not good enough. They’re a team playing well since their coaching change and they were better than us tonight.”
On coming back from the road trip, if there was maybe some fatigue: “Yeah, maybe some fatigue I guess. But that’s no excuse. We got to be better out of the gate.”
On the special teams: “Their powerplay was good. Ours wasn’t. That’s kind of the difference for sure.”
On the coaching challenges: “It was good. Thought we were able to I guess get those called back. [Video coach Jeremy Coupal] JC did a good job in the video room there. That was good.”
McDavid was asked if the Oilers need to be harder to play against in the defensive zone: “(laughs) We’re back at this… Yeah, of course. We can always be better defensively as a group and as individuals. Leo and I are not absolved of any of that. I thought our defensive game has been good. We got to find a way to produce as well.”
On the game, what went wrong: “We lost the special teams battle. Not good enough on our penalty kill and our powerplay, although it had some chances. It didn’t generate the way we wanted to. In the end, we gave up two goals on the penalty kill. One six-on-five, one right at the end of a four-on-four. All things that certainly we’d like to have back, but we can’t. We’re going to digest it, and work on it as we move forward here.”
On what he saw 5×5: “We didn’t have the game we wanted to. I’m not going to dress it up and put a bow on it and say ‘we just didn’t get what we needed.’ We weren’t good enough in a lot of areas tonight. That said, it was a 3-2 hockey game heading into the third period. We had a chance to fight our way back in. We didn’t do it tonight. Like I said, we’re going to digest it, we’ll review it tomorrow and work on something in practice and then move on from there.”
On if details are an issue, if the focus is waning: “That might be how you see that Spec in terms of the stages and all that. I don’t see it necessarily that way. I don’t think we were good enough to win the game tonight. Are there things we can do better? Yeah. Are there certain details that we can be better at tonight? Yes, there are. But big picture-wise, that’s not for me to say. I will say to a man, we know we can be better tonight.”
On if the Oilers need to be harder to play against in their own zone, particularly against smaller skilled guys: “I thought we gifted some opportunities tonight I haven’t seen much of over the last three weeks. I think we can be a lot cleaner with the puck. I think of that first goal against. We can do some things there that negate those type of opportunities. Can we be harder? Yeah, we can be harder. That wasn’t our best effort, not the best I’ve seen in my three weeks here.”
On the Oilers PK woes: “Let’s go back and look at the penalty kill goals-against today. I thought that first kill we had good opportunities to get the puck out. I counted three different opportunities where the puck was on our tape. So for me, the clears, which it sounds like a very basic thing, has nothing to do with systemic issues. That comes down to confidence to get the right clear at the right time. We weren’t good in that area today. I think the statistics would bear that out as having been an issue for a little while. That’s something we can improve on, certainly. The second penalty kill goal against today, I think there was a little bit of a coverage error. That’s not how we want to play a certain look for Montreal. In the end, we didn’t get the job done and that to me was a huge factor in the game tonight, that we lost the special teams battle.”
On playing well against top eight teams: “For me, I don’t think there was any illusion of the Montreal Canadiens coming into our arena tonight without our guys understanding they won six-of-seven games, that they had scored 20 goals in their last five games, that they are feeling it right now. I don’t think that was our best effort tonight. I don’t think we were as detailed as we needed to be. sure, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t a top-eight team in the Eastern Conference, but they have a lot of players left over from that group that went to the Stanley Cup Final last year. Our players were aware of it. We can do better. we can execute at a higher rate than we did tonight.”
On the oilers being more successful on the road than at home: “just speaking in my three or so weeks here, i can just speak for myself. i think that today was the 12th game. eight of them have been on the road. i can only speak to that. We’re 2-2 in that three-week period. We’re disappointed with the result tonight, but I’m learning our group here too and what their capabilities are, what their habits have been or whatnot. Certainly, we’d want to show a better effort here on home ice. It was exciting to have a full capacity crowd.”
On his sense of the team right now: “I’m not the only person who feels that we can do better. Players in our locker room are sticking together. There’s no fingers being pointed. We know we can be better. We’ve gone through a tough stretch schedule-wise, but so has every other team in the National Hockey League. They’re all dealing with schedule issues. We’ve lost some players to injury, but so has every other team in the National Hockey League. For us, it’s about finding a way through a little bit of adversity here, fine-tuning some small parts to our game and bringing in a better effort as we move forward.”
On Mike Smith’s performance: “Well, Mike Smith is part of our team and our team, I think, can execute at a higher level. I thought we were in a 3-2 hockey game heading into the third period. We had a chance to tie it up and find a way to win. We didn’t do that. Collectively, I think we can all be better.”
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]