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02-02-2013, 01:34 PM
  #552
State of Hockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FVM View Post
- Boudreau's Ducks play the puck possession game. When it works like it did today it is beautiful to watch. I'm not ready to turn on Yeo yet but I do wonder why do the Wild have such a poor possession game? Tonight was a perfect example - just a dump after a dump after a dump. How about passing it between teammates for a change??
The Ducks' puck possession game is a lot more effective now that they have the effort to match. They were flying around last night, and that combination is tough to beat. In past years the Ducks were a lazy team, and that led to turnovers, little puck control, etc. That's different this year.

Why do the Wild not have a puck possession game? Coaching and personnel. Yeo's system is anti-puck control. Watch what happens when the Wild defensemen have the puck controlled in our own zone and look to move it up ice. You'll be lucky to see more than one Wild forward even in the same camera view. When the defensemen have the puck in their own zone, the forwards move up to the neutral zone, commonly past the first line of defending forwards. Then the defensemen usually throw the puck up ice along the boards, to get it around those forechecking forwards. If things go right, our forwards get a tip or something to create a legal entry into the offensive zone and try to go on the forecheck. But if things don't go right (commonly), we give the puck right back to the opponent. The system is not "pass it to me, I'll pass it to you". It's "oh crap I have to get rid of this puck before it's stolen from me". Sometimes you'll see the Wild pass their way through the neutral zone, but it's not common.

It's a boring, ugly, low-scoring system of hockey even when done right. It protects poorly-skilled defensemen since they don't have to be able to skate or handle the puck (Stoner, Prosser, Spurgeon, etc.). And conversely it neuters highly skilled defensemen as they can't rush the puck up ice on their own (Suter, Zidlicky, etc.). The forwards are a similar story. You can get by with slow, low-skilled players sometimes, but your highly skilled players aren't able to create things well either.

This type of system is easily hemmed in by a hard-working, big, skilled team like Anaheim, Detroit, or St. Louis. Supposedly Pittsburgh plays a similar way, and although I haven't looked closely enough to confirm, it seems interesting that both Yeo's Wild and Pittsburgh have been terrible at holding leads over the past few years. Anytime an opponent really amps up the effort level, this system has no answer. You simply cannot play reliable defense this way. You're always giving up the puck and consequently your own zone. Eventually bad things happens no matter how sound you are in your own zone. If this team had questionable goaltending, we'd be getting blown-out often.

But do we have the players to play a puck-possession game? No way. This roster is so slow that there's just no chance. We would need a roster blowup to fix it.

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