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02-10-2006, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Spitfire11
Seriously though, what's happened to Hamhuis? Has he been this bad all year? IMO, he was one of Nashville's top players in the playoffs last year and I was expecting him to build on it. All the games I've seen him play against Detroit this year he hasn't looked good at all.
First, I think they are all rattled because of the immense pressure they face from opposing teams forwards.

We have no forecheck, so we immediately tilt the ice in the direction of Vokoun and bring the majority of the game to our end, keeping us on our heels.

Because we are on our heels, the defensemen do not attack the opposing team's puck carriers, instead attempting to back up until they reach the crease. Opposing teams' forwards are allowed to carry immense speed and our D spends a significant amount of time full throttle backwards attempting to stay between the opposing forward and the goalie.

Our backcheck leaves a lot to be desired, making our Dmen look even worse when skating backwards. The opposing forwards, carrying significant speed, force our Dmen back quickly, and create a wide gap between our defenseman and the bulk of our backchecking forwards. This gives the opposing team two wonderful options besides just crashing the net. They can either slow up on the play once they get into the zone. This increases the distance between our backskating defensemen and the opposing forwards. Or they push hard ahead and locate a trailing player to drop the puck to. Because our second wave of backcheckers (sometimes third wave) is so far behind the play, there is ample time for the opposing players to operate under 2 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 2, 3 on 3 conditions. The extra room and extra time just increase the likelihood that one of our D will be embarrassed.

We have no breakout game unless the other team is on a line change (even then it sucks). The defensemen are passing it to well-defended, slow moving skaters who immediately turn the puck over and send the rush right back at the D.

There is an increasing desire to make the perfect home-run pass because since we can't seem to carry the puck through the first wave of defenders, we have to pass it through. This leads to a lot of indecision because the perfect pass is so hard to come by.

Down low, the defensemen receive very little help by their forwards. When the puck is in the corner, it is up to our defenseman to beat a Brendan Shanahan one on one against the boards. Quite often, the third man into these scrums is an opposing player. Our forwards are so concerned with maintaining proper positioning that they won't help out down low, allowing opposing teams to gain possession and create a cycle which for reasons mentioned in this paragraph and the lack of size from our D-core, works wonderfully.

And lastly, they are each so afraid of committing a penalty that they rarely put anything on the skater, attempting to hang back and pokecheck the puck away. This works well against some players, but the Robert Langs, Brendan Shanahans, Bill Guerins, Jason Arnotts, Peter Forsbergs of the world just eat that up.

But wait, there's more! Because of all these factors, our D has played terrible, which has a snowballing affect. The play of a Dman is directly linked to the play of his partner. When you have a panicked Dman, his partner becomes an issue as well because that panicked Dman will put the partner in precarious situations forcing that Dman to play under increased pressure. For example, trying for the perfect pass when no legitimate outlet exists, Suter holds on to the puck too long. The forechecking forward gets within 5 feet and Suter flings the puck across the zone to Hamhuis. Because the play has stagnated, the other forwards have time to react to this often slow and/or erratic pass. By the time Hammer gets the puck and settles it down to make an up-ice pass, he already has a forward on him. A turnover and quick pass or two later, the red light's on. You'd be suprised how often this situation has occured for us this year.

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