Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t hold any punches when speaking about his team’s loss in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Not good enough,” a frustrated Woodcroft told reporters after the Oilers 5-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. “Not good enough in any way. To a man, not good enough.”
Woodcroft was particularly frustrated with his team’s play at even strength.
“I didn’t think we skated well, I didn’t think we were hard enough in certain areas. To a man, not our finest hour in any way.”
The outing was especially disappointing given the strides the Oilers appeared to have made in Game 2 where they were able to even the series up with a 5-1 win of their own.
“Is it disappointing? Ya, it’s disappointing,” Woodcroft said. “But we understand the type of game and type of team we are in what we’re capable of. In the end, whether you lose this game 1-0 in overtime or you lose it the way we lost it, there’s things to learn and take out of this game, and we’re going to have to be better. In the end, they have two wins, and we have one. It’s about us making sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Making matters even worse for the Oilers was that Zach Hyman appeared to be hobbled all night after taking a hit from Nicolas Hague in the opening period. Despite looking banged up, Woodcroft seemed comfortable continuing to give him regular shifts for the remainder of the game.
“I thought he gave us some good shifts and worked his way through the game just fine,” explained Woodcroft. “I felt good about using him all the way through to the end of the third period when we were on the power play.”
Around the mid-way point of the second period, Woodcroft chose to pull Stuart Skinner in favour of Jack Campbell after the rookie had allowed four goals on 23 shots. It seemed to most that the pull was more of a reflection of the team’s play rather than their goaltenders, a sentiment that the Oilers bench boss seemed to agree with.
“I thought there were areas of the rink where we have to be a lot harder,” Woodcroft reiterated. “We weren’t always burned on it, but eventually if you keep putting your hand on the stove, you do get burned. For us, that’s one of the areas we can be better for sure.”
This game, similar to Game 1, was an ugly performance from the Oilers. Despite their less-than-stellar play early on in the series, Connor McDavid is expecting his group to come back strong in Game 4.
“We’ve bounced back before,” McDavid said. “Obviously, it’s a big Game 4; we understand that. So I would expect that sense of urgency to go up. I would expect our best game in Game 4.”
The Oilers will be looking to even up this series on Wednesday night, which will take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton at 8 pm MT.