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04-25-2013, 11:54 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Originally Posted by
I'll answer your questions, starting with paragraph 2:
Everyone says our D is better. I am one of the people who doesn't think so. While we may be giving up fewer shots on goal, we are allowing better quality shots. Same with scoring chances. Just b/c there is a decrease in shots or scoring chances doesn't mean that we are allowing similar quality opportunities. Our shots against per game could have gone down for several reasons:
1. We added Z back, which means an added shot blocker in the mix. If our number of blocked shots has increased, that means fewer pucks are getting to the goal, hence our shots on goal go down. That's an entirely plausible reason for why our shots on goal against has decreased.
2. Teams in the West got a taste of Smith's ability to play the puck last year. How do we know that coaches haven't been instructed to make sure that you dump the puck behind, rather than shooting at Smith so he can glove it, put it down, and play the puck? Difference is, when you glove it and play it, it counts as a shot on goal.
Last year, we gave up 31.6 SOG, and this year, it is 30.2. You could easily make the case that if an additional shot or two gets blocked per game and teams are avoiding letting Smith play the puck, that makes up the difference right there on a nightly basis.
Our forwards and d-men have also made far more turnovers that have led to odd-man rushes and shots that are tough to turn away. People have posted as much on these boards, so maybe, on paper we look like a better defense than what we have actually put on the ice.
As for the Whitney thing - I didn't say that we were a stronger goal-scoring team. I said we were stronger on the puck. Meaning that Whitney knew where to put the puck so that our players had the best chance to get it, whether that is in the corners, or tape-to-tape passes. I think that can be echoed when you look at the veterans we did not keep in Whitney, Rozsival, and Aucoin - all veteran players who had that "feel" for when and where to play the puck. I think we lost some of that going into this year, which is why we are seeing goals scored as fairly similar, but overall our possession of the puck has been slightly lacking. Plus, as we have found ourselves down more, our D is more likely to cheat up to join the rush, which again, can create problems in terms of quality scoring chances by the other team, b/c we may be out of position more often.
I don't think Smith has had a great year, but he has certainly not been the sole reason why we are struggling. I think our D has been out of position far more times this year than any of the other previous three years, and that is why the goals against are reflected as such. Again, go to NHL.com, and look at some of these games where 4+ goals are given up, and I think that you will see the same number of "bad" goals (goals Smith wants back) as last year in the replays. But you will see more goals scored from areas of the ice where we would not allow opponents to sneak into in previous seasons. That could be related to Smith if he is not talking with our defense, but I think that is an issue where everyone in the back 6 is not doing enough...
I can see your point on blocked shots influencing shots against. I still think, and I heard Tip in an interview, scoring chances are down for the year. With no practice time, at the beginning of the season, you would think scoring chances would be up with the sloppy play, but they are not. It leads me to think Smith was making those key saves last year but not this year, while scoring chances were less and they should be more based on sloppy early play and no preparations. It is always easier to remember defensive lapses when they end up in our net(this year) but not when Smith makes a great save(last year). I think Smith was 80% of the solution last year and 80% of the problem for the team this year. No preparation, Smith being injured and over worked, might have something to do with his performance.
The subject of our D being not as good as last year, then which D? Yandle seems similar, Z is a shot blocking machine, DMO was 20 pounds lighter and clearly better, OEL was good, Stone they are very happy with, Klesla is solid. Who underperformed? I would take Stone and Z this year over Rozi and AA performance wise..
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