Blues at Predators 12/17 - A Necessary Question
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12-19-2011, 12:01 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Nashville, TN
Originally Posted by
Slake , just saw some of your remarks on twitter last night about the forwards being low in the dz? And some other comments. Would love for you to expand a little so I can understand a little better.
Also wonder if what you are mentioning is a player adjusting during a game ,
coach adjusting within a game.., or
It was more a byproduct of the long sustained cycles the Blues had in our end. With our style of defensive coverage (same one used by 80% of the league) as a team continues to cycle the puck low the forwards who are out covering the points begin to collapse deeper into the zone to provide less room for the offense to work within and keep the puck low. The problem occurs though when the defense gets the puck and moves it up to the strongside winger when he is 15' below the blueline because he then really has limited options and St. Louis was doing their best to take them away.
Essentially, what we were seeing on a lot of those failed clears was the defense moving the puck up to the wing after sustained pressure in our end, but St. Louis having a defenseman back on the wall and a high forward (F3) moving and in position to eliminate time and space from our winger or be in position to cover for the defenseman if he pinched up. What it resulted in was a lot of weak chips up the boards that simply became turnovers because of St. Louis's positioning and pressure. That prolonged many of the attacks and lead to some of the shot disparity (6 PP's to none was a bigger factor).
I think the other thing I mentioned was the forwards not opening up to provide the defensemen outlets for a pass out of the zone. On several occasions each period I saw the defense or even our center down low get control of the puck only to look up and see only the numbers on the back of his teammates jerseys. Weber's late 3rd period icing resulted from Wilson going for a skate up the middle of the ice and never opening up, Kostitsyn did it to Klein in the 2nd, and there were a few other cases I can remember where we failed to clear the zone because the D simply had no one to pass to.
Give St. Louis a lot of credit. They are a very talented team that is working hard under Ken Hitchcock. They brought a lot of energy and worked as a team to apply pressure on the Predators all night long in all three zones. We limited a lot of their shots to the outside and didn't allow them to get to many rebounds for second chance opportunities, but still Pekka Rinne has been the difference in both of our meetings against St. Louis this season and I'm hoping the team continues to make adjustments to lessen the burden on him as the season continues.
FWIW, I was disappointed with Ryan Reaves turning down McGrattan twice in the first period last night. In the first meeting of the season the Blues came out and finished hits all over the rink and when Stortini was called upon to fight back he got knocked down by Reaves and the Blues just hammered away at us all night long. That game lead to the acquisition of McGrattan and he knows it. On the first shift he challenged Reaves and Reaves wouldn't even look at him and later in the period he flat out declined after McGrattan took a run at him and hit a couple other Blues. While I don't blame Reaves for not going, it seems to me to be a cheap way of admitting that we're going to do this and I'm not going to fight you for the right to do this.
Overall though, the Predators have got to get tougher as a team to play with St. Louis and not wilt under their pressure for 60 minutes. Pekka Rinne was the difference last night and that's why he's earned his extension, but he's gotta get more help...
Been very impressed by the play of Kevin Klein and Nick Spaling the past week.
Klein played 22:30 last night, attempted a team-high 7 shots on goal, had 2 hits, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways, and a blocked shot. Spaling played 19+ minutes, had a shot on goal, blocked a shot, 2 hits, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways, and won 15 of 19 faceoffs he took.
Good to see them both playing well during this streak...
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