This image from the Oilers game is again making the rounds and is no doubt being used as fuel for the Fire Eakins inferno that is starting up.
One last tweet before bed. pic.twitter.com/d0tHtWXR5s
— Dustin Nielson (@nielsonTSN1260) November 5, 2014
Here’s the thing. As ugly as that looks, I don’t think this particular breakdown is on Eakins or his defensive system.
As far as I’m concerned the bulk of the blame here falls on Matt Hendricks and the way he was out-worked by Brayden Schenn. I’ve broken the play down bit by bit.
2) Here it appears that Hendricks has control of the puck and Nikitin makes himself available for what should be an easy pass from Hendricks. Brayden Schenn is already moving to the left of Hendricks and the pass to NN should be free. Additionally Yakupov has moved to the wall anticipating his defenseman will receive the puck and look to move it back up the ice.
4) Uh oh. Schenn is now in between Hendricks and the puck. Only a second has passed from the time that there was no doubt Hendricks would move the puck over to Nikitin. Justin Schultz was sucked over to Fasth’s right because that’s the direction the puck, Hendricks, and Schenn were moving until a split second ago. Draisaitl, out of view, is along the wall and is most likely the one who by now should have entered the middle of the screen.
5) Schenn is taken down by Hendricks but it’s too little too late as he manages to push the puck out to the middle of the ice. Nail Yakupov is now in between the ref and the play. Draisaitl is coming in from a different area code, and Nikitin making himself available for the pass that was not to be made him too far away to close on Schenn.
6) Pew Pew Pew. Fasth is deep in his net because he was guarding against a potential wrap-around and keeping an eye on the fore-checker. No Oiler is within 15 feet of Schenn because the puck should have already been moving up ice the other direction and all of Draisaitl, Yak, and Nikitin were supporting Hendricks by being open for the pass he never delivered.
The end result looks ugly but that is primarily because one player double clutched on a simple pass to an open man. Shortly after this goal Hendricks fought Rinaldo out of pure frustration. He knew it was on him.
I’m all for blasting Eakins’ decisions and happy to place blame on systemic issues that lay at his feet, but this is what happens when simple plays go bad. The skaters saw their player had possession and took appropriate position to move the other way. Unfortunately, a misfired pass attempt and determined play from the fore-checker combined for a spectacular shooting opportunity against.
Good for the Schenns, but that was supposed to be a nothing play.
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.