Thread: Team identity
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02-19-2013, 09:32 AM
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I had been meaning to say this over the long weekend but got super busy (Surely you all care). But thanks to TR for making this thread. This is the kind of hockey discussion on steroids I come to the boards for. You can see the real value adders (IMO) in the thought out responses.

I have been harping on identity for some time now. Sure every team has issues, and i am certainly not disappointed with our team because lets be honest.....we still get to win games and watch great talents play. But i just can't help notice the shift approach or identity the past few years.

Few good points already covered. We need 4 lines who can cycle. That is what we had when we were harder to play against, and IMO better built for playoff success. This also includes Cole's point on puck support. It hasn't been there so neither has the cycle. I will also add my own thoughts that we A) got too small when we thought the game would remain extremely wide open. Now that some obstruction has returned, our cycle (when established) has a hard working the puck into the slot area. B) DB's systems, and this is not a critique of him overall, seem so geared to rigid execution that some basics of dump, chase, and establish support seem to be outside our players "responsibility". We are trying to control the puck at all times, even on zone entry. Or, we are trying to work the stretch pass and chip which isn't allowing enough forwards to retrieve the puck. When we get it in deep, we other forwards turned loose to retrieve.

My main concern is this getting to our game approach. Seems counter intuitive to say we need to "focus less on our game" and "need more identity". But our identity now is a systemic approach to the game. Systems are fine when they are more of a umbrella governing decisions, ala NJ Devil hockey which is boring as chastity but effective. Our system is more like gears in a machine. If the gears get thrown off, we fall apart. It happens on both sides of the hockey coin too. Teams who trap throw us off, and teams that turn the game into old time hockey throw us off. When you are so formulaic the variables cause greater swings in results.

The good news is, I think a few personnel changes...and not necessarily "upgrades" from an asset perspective can have a major impact.

We need 2 more guys dressed each game who play like Bortuzzo. When he gets TOI you can see the edge in his game is contagious. Similar to Clarkson on NJD. Like it or not, he makes almost every game interesting. A move on the 3rd line and 4th line could be the shake up needed to add size and emotion on a nightly basis. Focus on bringing in a wing for Malkin is also important but patience is needed. It needs to be the right guy for the line, and for the larger team identity. Not just anyone with skill IMO.

I have a feeling that come playoffs shero will have made moves to address both of these issues. More emotion and size for the bottom 6, and a top 6 player for Malkin's wing.

(Side note, i have seen the 4th line beginning to play a nice 4th line game with Adams Vitale and Glass. I hope DB continues to juggle them less and use them more to set the tone. When he juggles everyone with Sid and Geno, the whole team starts watching and waiting instead of playing like units with chemistry and purpose).

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