How many articles did I write this season saying that the lackadaisical defensive zone play is going to cost the Panthers? How many times did I call out Weegar and Ekblad for their offense first mentality? And what happened last night?
MacKenzie Weegar cost the Panthers Game 1!
I really do not have much to say about this game besides the fact that Brunette needs to evaluate his defensive pairings and separate Ekblad and Weegar.
MacKenzie Weegar was an absolute liability and the reason the Capitals scored their 2nd and 3rd goals Tuesday night. It is no shocker that he finished the game -2 as besides the fact that he is a skating turnover, he also has no defensive zone awareness.
Let’s take a look at the game tying goal scored by Cocaine-netsov, I mean Kuznetsov:
Alexander Ovechkin is one of the most dangerous men in the game and a player who is likely going to set a new NHL goal scoring record. MacKenzie Weegar will probably be forgotten within 2 years of his retirement. Why in the hell would Weegar think he can dance around Alexander the Great like that?
What coach would ever tell a defenseman, who is the last man back with the puck by the way, to try to dangle through the neutral zone? Headman the puck! It is not like the Panthers were down and needed a goal.
Play smart hockey and protect the lead.
But no, the defensive liability, aka Weegs, decides that he knows better and he can dance around one of the greatest hockey players to ever live because he is part of the 1st defensive pairing!
So, as we can see, Weegar turns it over – I know, shocker, right – and then Kuznetsov is off to the races to score and do his dumbdick bird dance in the corner.
Weegar that is 110% your fault.
Brunette is also to blame because if I ever had a player make a turnover that idiotic, especially late in the game, his ass is collecting splinters on the bench for the rest of the game!
PS: I hate Kuznetsov’s bird flag celebration more than anything. You can tell the Columbian bam bam he loves so much definitely gives him terrible ideas if that is his celly. And for those who don’t get the reference:
Now let’s move on to TJ Oshie’s game winning goal:
What was Weegar doing? On an odd man rush, as a defender, the objective is to make the forward shoot and take away the passing lanes.
Instead, the skating liability is just standing straight up and looking dazed and confused. Backstrom’s pass even appears to go right through Weegar who looked like he was out there doing twirls during public skate.
While Weegar looked lost and confused, Montour did not make the situation any better.
Look at the video again and you can see that Montour is the 3rd man to get back, even though he is playing defense.
Then once he is in the zone, he gets caught standing straight up and not being able to find a man to cover. Fortunately, for him, the 3rd guy did not score; however, not a good look for Montour.
This entire defensive zone series is the exact opposite of what you see coaches teach kids in minor hockey. Nobody had their man. Weegar got caught in no-man’s land standing straight up. It is just basic hockey gone wrong.The fact that these guys are professionals and still can’t figure it out tells me that either they do not care or they are not ready for the playoffs.
Despite Weegar completely ruining the game for his team and being an absolute joke in the defensive zone, there were a few bright spots last night:
- Bobrovsky played out of his mind. Bob is the only reason that the score wasn’t 4-1 at the end of the first period. He made clutch save after clutch save to keep the Panthers in the game. Bob finished the night as the game’s third star with 34 saves on 37 shots and only 3 goals allowed. Bob tried to steal this one for the Cats, but Weegar really wanted another first round exit so he can go to the beach and work on his golf game before it gets too hot in South Florida.
- Giroux is showing why the Cats picked him up for this playoff run. G had a beautiful rebound goal early in the 2nd period to give the Cats a 2-1 lead. He was in the right place at the right time and got rewarded. The entire game he looked good and was a reliable two-way player for the Panthers.
- While Sam Bennett may not have the sex appeal that names like Huberdeau and Barkov get, Bennett is the type of player that will win a series. Bennett had a beautiful goal to tie the game at 1 in the first period. On top of that, he was a thorn in the Capitals side all night finishing the game with 8 hits. Guys like Bennett make a difference in the playoffs because they can do more than just score pretty goals. They can throw the body around, play physical, and muck it up – all qualities you need to make a deep playoff run. Bennett was superb in his play last night and the Cats will need more guys to play like him than like Weegar.
In summary, MacKenzie Weegar completely blew the game for the Cats as he directly caused the tying and game winning goals. He is a skating turnover and has absolutely 0 awareness in the defensive zone. I would have rather seen an orange pylon out there on defense because at least the pylon won’t hand the puck to the other team.
Andrew Brunette is also to blame as he continued to play Weegar despite seeing Weegar’s terrible decision making and poor defensive zone coverage.
Hopefully the video coach can show both of these guys what the hell they were doing wrong so as they can come back and make the right decisions in game 2. If the Cats can’t figure this out, then it is going to be a short series and they will be on the golf course next week!
As always Panthers fans, in Zito we trust!