That earned Hendricks a promotion on a night that Marcus Johansson played just one 50-second shift in the third period.
“I felt he could play better,” Oates said of Johansson. “You hope every guy uses his strengths and one of Marcus’ strengths is his skating ability and I didn’t think he was skating. I was looking for a spark, something else.”
There was little spark or fight all night aside from what Hendricks did with his stick and his fists.
Not having much attacking-zone time was the culprit, the opposite of what Oates‘ system is designed to do. The idea of having a defenseman pinch is to create pressure on opposing defenses and force turnovers.
When the forecheck doesn’t get the job done, the Caps are caught, as they were a few times Tuesday night. It’s a problem that could be fixed, but the road might be bumpy until that point.
It’s still an unknown how long that will take.
“I don’t know. I wish I knew. Hopefully not one more day. Hopefully it clicks and we can do it all and start playing better,” Alzner said. “There’s system stuff, there’s hard work stuff. Tonight, even if we have breakdowns in the system, we should be able to fix ‘em with hard work. There wasn’t enough of that.”