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02-01-2013, 06:48 AM
Tender Rip
#Haz supa line mates
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Shanghai, China
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Can we dial the coaching argument away from 'X or Y coach did this' and 'Z could would do that with the Pens'? There are far too many variables in play there, and Bylsma evaluation doesn't need to be about that.

We can discuss what we see happening with this team.
My genuine beef with Bylsma is that if you look at the areas where right now we look the worst from a system/structure point of view, I just cannot abide that we cannot do better, and this isn't something new where one can say its only been seven games.

For instance, I previously mentioned an example of how we are - the vast majority of the time - simply having our D-men throw the puck up the wall and then we chase it. At best it makes it a 50-50 challenge to give us possession in the neutral/offensive zone, but it isn't actually like that because opponent defenders obviously have the jump on our forwards when it comes to meeting those passes, more so as they are made religiously and are thus fully expected by opponents. It must be possible to play and build our plays with more variety than that! Even those who consider these growing pains after the lockout must notice this.
The stretch pass is a great weapon when used some times - and by all means if teams want to defend against it like Winnipeg did last year.... keep on doing it! Also some times you are under a lot of pressure from the forecheck and you basically have to get it the hell out. its not like I'm religious about this. But we cannot enter every match with that being the way we outlet a vast majority of the time! It is asinine and more than being butt ugly to watch, we are not creating offense off of it.
More often than not (much more), it just doesn't work, and as it is now what everyone expect from us, it is a major reason that we do not establish anything like the offensive zone time we used to.

Then Mtl.Pen will say that we dumb down the system because few of our forwards have the hands to be more elaborate on offense, but honestly that is just taking that argument way too far. It is just as reasonable (more) saying that few of our forwards look capable of receiving a pass and doing anything with it because we are not creating time and space in which to make and receive those passes. You create that time and space by being unpredictable as a team more so than by being individually skilled. That goes for EVERY team sport.

One a more positive note; we (at least some of us) have been talking ad nauseam about our struggles to deal with a heavy forecheck. Rangers, albeit without Callahan in this one, is one of the teams with big forwards who create most their offense by bearing down on defenses and getting scrappy goals in front. They tried that in this one as well. Notice the difference in vulnerability when you insert bodies like those of Despres and Bortuzzo? Playing youngsters like that have other risks for sure and they sure weren't perfect, but when they can skate like they can, the very addition of size/strength of that magnitude is of tremendous value. We've been saying this **** for years, and it is beyond me how adding such competence was not a major focus when making our big D-acquisitions some years ago or at the deadline in any seasons post-Gill&Scuderi. I simply cannot understand why this wasn't an evident need to all and Shero (and Bylsma) more than the rest of us. Why on earth would you not prioritize giving Bortuzzo a look over Lovejoy from the beginning of the season? We know what Lovejoy brings. We know that he is cheap injury cover and not a solution. It is beyond me.

Nor can I understand (tangentially relevant here, at least) those who are finding religion with Niskanen and considering him largely untradeable (Niskanen is a fine player) without seeing that it is more important adding certain qualities - the shortage of which has greatly contributed to failure - than adding more or the same.

We could do the PP with a Letang focus now, but I have been saying the same stuff for years there, so I will leave it for now.

The bottom line is that to me, before looking at the forward group that is one top line forward and a Kunitz not indecently out of shape from being AWESOME, why not focus our (BYLSMA's) attention on eminently solvable problems that should be obvious to all (I will keep Fleury out of this as I might have painted myself into a corner as a resident hater, as well as staying out of 'accountability' where I am all on Jiggy's waggon)?

I could get behind Bylsma more or less unconditionally if I saw indications that our flaws were being recognized. But I don't.

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