The single-worst play by an Oiler this year?

Jonathan Willis
March 25 2013 10:23PM

The last time the Oilers played Nashville, it was Sergei Kostitsyn making an awful play on a goal in a 3-2 Oilers win. On Monday night, Kostitsyn was excellent, so it was Mark Fistric’s turn to cede a gorgeous scoring chance (and ultimately a game-winning goal) to the other team in a 3-2 game with a stunningly bad sequence.

The play starts with the Oilers in good position: defending a 2-on-2 rush at their own blue line. Corey Potter (44 for Edmonton) has the puck carrier, Brandon Yip (18 for Nashville), a player who has never hit 30 points in the NHL. Mark Fistric (45 for Edmonton) is watching Chris Mueller (17 for Nashville), a 27-year old journeyman of no particular note.

Ryan Smyth (94 for Edmonton) is now in the frame, coming back as a good centre should (at this point in the game, he has replaced Eric Belanger as the fourth line pivot). The head position of the defenders is the first indication there might be trouble – Potter sees Mueller breaking to the outside, while Fistric has isolated Potter’s man Yip, who still has the puck.

Mike Brown (13 for Edmonton) joins his three teammates to give the Oilers four guys in the frame to Nashville’s two, but at this point it’s all over. Yip has passed off to Mueller, who is in the process of blowing past Fistric. Fistric is either unaware or indifferent, still totally focused on lining Yip up for the big hit. Corey Potter sees Mueller, but Fistric’s position means he’s basically boxed out of the play. Smyth’s been gliding back, so maybe deserves a little criticism here – though with Fistric where he was, Smyth has no reason to expect Mueller to beat him around the outside.

And here we are. Potter can’t get there in time, Smyth can’t get there in time, and Fistric’s still looking at Yip for the hit. The Predators have a breakaway.

Smyth’s skating now, but he’s too far back. At the top of the screen, Yip avoids Fistric’s big hit.

Mueller scores.

It’s just an awful sequence for Fistric; it really looks like he got locked in for the big hit and tuned out the play happening around him – including the fact that the guy he should have covered coming into the zone had the puck. In fariness, it’s a single play, and Fistric has been pretty steady in a third-pairing role for the Oilers this season; generally those big hits result in cheers rather than a goal against. Like Kostitsyn’s play just over a week ago, though, it will probably take a little while for Fistric to live this particular sequence down.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.