A few players didn’t think systems knowledge or lack thereof was the problem at Tampa Bay.
“I think that there was a couple times in the defensive zone the puck was bouncing around and guys were scrambling, when [if] we just stick to our positions and stay calm and composed, things will work themselves out,” defenseman Mike Green said. “As far as the systems standpoint, we played it as well as we could tonight, but we got to move forward a little bit more with that.”
Captain Alex Ovechkin, who was held without a point and without a shot for the final two periods in the first game of his move to right wing, said the debut effort under Oates “was not [a] bad game.”
But there’s still plenty of work to do. Oates praised his young defensive pairing of Karl Alzner and John Carlson, but the defensive zone miscues by the group were alarming. Missed assignments at five-on-five and on the penalty kill led to goals that were hard to pin on goaltender Braden Holtby.
Perhaps one of the problems the Caps had was a failure to communicate.
“You want to talk more, especially [when] we’re just learning the systems here: different players, different lines,” center Mike Ribeiro said. “I think that’s one of the details of the game that a lot of teams don’t do. A lot of guys don’t do it, and we’re going to fix that.”
Fixing problems on the fly is even more of a challenge than normal given the compressed schedule. The Caps face the Winnipeg Jets for their home opener at Verizon Center on Tuesday, host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday and visit the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
But first, they’ll analyze the loss to the Lightning, the first look at this team in a competitive situation.
“We’ll take some good things, we’ll watch the video, take the positive out of it. There’s some good, there’s some bad,” Ribeiro said. “It’s good to have that first game and see what we did right and wrong and go back and fix that.”
Oates is keen on using video to point out problems. So if nothing else, Saturday night provided visual evidence of what needs to be fixed
“Definitely we had some breakdowns out there, and they were pretty apparent. I think the only way we can go is up,” Poti said. “I think learning a new system is hard, but at the same time, we’ve got to get through it and battle through it.”
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