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02-24-2009, 05:15 PM
  #1
Ola
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Around 1993 New Jersey Devils started to play a system that was named "the trap" in the NHL. Later any organized defensive system have been called the trap to, so don't get hanged up on that word.

Their system was created to put players in the best positions to counterattack after you won the puck. Thats important to remeber, its a system created to create offense. And it definitly did! New Jersey Devils scoured the 2nd most amount of goals in the NHL in 1994, more then NYR and less only then the Red Wings. For example. It only became a low scoring system when everyone in the league played it at the same time.

For thoose who don't know what the real NJD trap was about; there was a man in Sweden who studid hockey at University level and wrote a paper about goals scored in hockey. He found out that like 90% of the goals at that time, the late 80's, were scored seconds after giveaways in the neutral zone. He then sat down and thought about it, every team spent all their energy on getting into the attackingzone and try to score from there -- when in reality the goals where scored not after pretty plays and passes, but after the attacking team made misstakes. A team in Sweden started playing that way, and had a ton of success with it. NJD went to Sweden to scout Tommy Albelin and the rest is histrory...

The results of the trap became that the most talented teams didn't win. You basically didn't need the skilled centers for example to win. A Bobby Holik was just as valuble.

But the teams with the Forsberg and Sakics, with the Lecavaliers and co they needed to do something.

Colorado is really the first team in the NHL who I saw play the STLYE JOHN TORTORELLA USED AS A HEAD COACH IN TAMPA in the NHL.

Its a system where you pressure all over the ice, with wingers designed and designated to be able to take away the boards, while you drop back further then the redline, you drop back further then NJD, your D's drop back all the way to their own defensive blueline. With the forwards pressureing all over the ice, you have them come back with speed and therefor you also get allot of support for your D's since your forwards are all skating at the same speed as the attacking team. Your D's then end up in perfect position to make high defensive plays at their own blue. Stand up forwards with good ol'e body checks.

The purpose with the system is that after hits like that from your D's, which results in won pucks at your defensive blueline -- the other team is then stretched out all over the neutralzone basically. That opens up room for skilled centers in the neutral zone. That won Tampa Bay the Cup. That won Colorado 2 Cups.

You don't backdown and trap at the redline like NJD as of mid 90's did. You don't play it safe with 3 guys back all the time like the leftwing lock that Detroit and Dallas used. You stress hard all over the ice, make sure that your D's have a ton of support with people comming back with speed, you have big wingers who you can pass the pcuk to up the boards who then can direct it to a skilled center right away after a won puck at your own blueline.

It sounds great, right? 3 teams have won cups with it.

But what happend after the lockout? What happend to Tortorella's Tampa Bay? What happend to ex Colorado coach Bob Hartleys Atlanta? Detroit lost Hasek but became better after the lockout. Tampa lost Bullinwall and went from the best team in the league to the worst. Why is that?

You stopped winning thoose defensive battles high up ice. Guys like Michael Nylander suddenly could skate 8's around the Sutton's, Exelby's, Vishnevsky's of the league. The Lukowich's, Sarich's and Jassen Cullimores in Tampa wasn't able to hit guys at Tampa's defensive blueline anymore. Even the Nylanders of the league suddenly could skate 8's around them.

John Tortorella never figured that out in Tampa. Bob Hartley never figured that out in Atlanta. Not even after 3 years. They kept building more and more extreme in the same direction. To get better D's, and to provide thoose D's with better support -- so that they could win thoose darn defensive battles at their own defensive bluelien...

This is how Tortorella described it in todays interviews:
Quote:
"I have always liked the pressure game. We're gonna try to pressure... We're not trapping. Everybody thinks it's a defensive system; it's a transition mechanism. But I've gotta be careful; I made a major mistake last year with our team in Tampa where I was too aggressive and our D couldn't handle it and it cost us. I made a huge mistake in not changing that a little bit. I waited too long."
The fact that he descibes it as "our D couldn't handle it" really scares me. Because I haven't seen any D in this league who can stand up a Zach Parise, Michael Nylander or any of the talented players in this league at their own blueline on a regular basis. Its just not happening anywhere, by anyone. Phaneuf isn't able to do it, Lidström isn't able to do it, Pronger isn't able to do it. Not on a regular basis. The game have changed.

The reason things turned into a disaster in both Tampa and Atlanta for example for teams with that philopsophy is that they didn't have a ALTERNATIVE "transition mechanism". Pittsburgh have also played somewhat like that, but it haven't hurt them as much because they just give the puck to Malkin or Crosby and asks them to skate with it. But it defeinitly have hurt even Pittsburgh for stretches.

The Bottomline
John Tortorella is obviously aware what got him into trouble in Tampa, but I am not really sure he got the answears to fix it. He obviously still think that philosophy can work with a "D" that can "handle it". Pretty soon he is gooing to figure out that if Tampa's blueline couldn't handle it, neither will ours in NY...

In Tampa Torts didn't have a alternative "transition mechanism". Hopefully he got some kind of plan for that here in NY. In reality, we need to hope for that Tortorella got a backup plan that turns out to be state of the art and can allow us to compete with the best in the league.

I think its pretty likely that we just speed things up and starts playing more like Montreal and Buffalo and less like Detroit basically. I know that sounds a bit nutty, because we haven't even remotely "looked" like Detroit this season. But the philospohys are the same; the standard play is to slow the tempo down and have a controlled transition play. Or to play a controlled transition game, to have it slow is no purpose in itself. There is a major diffrence in X and Os between Detroit and teams like Montreal and Buffalo. Montreal and Buffalos philosphy is not to keep the puck within the team, its about playing really safe hockey but still getting offense from it by dooing it extremely fast. The reason the controlled puckpossesion approch didn't work for us in NY is because we tryed to play a skilled puckpoession game with very little puckskills especially... It worked pretty darn well the first two seasons after the lockout, but then we where far to soft and had too poor D's to go all the way.

//Ola
(The reason I call it a news article is because there isn't a "expert" in NA who ever covers these aspects -- while they are darn vital. So I tryed to write one myself.)


Last edited by Ola: 02-24-2009 at 05:46 PM.
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Old
02-24-2009, 05:25 PM
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As usual, very intriguing, Ola. And it makes sense.

The problem is that our lack of skill players hurts in BOTH systems, doesn't it? Either way, we have a problem, because we don't have enough skill.

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02-24-2009, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Sting36e View Post
As usual, very intriguing, Ola. And it makes sense.

The problem is that our lack of skill players hurts in BOTH systems, doesn't it? Either way, we have a problem, because we don't have enough skill.
A very big part to a teams success. You can't really turn **** to gold.

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02-24-2009, 05:32 PM
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Are we the 80's Oilers, no, but we most certainly have skill. At least on par with many successful teams in the league. I hope the new systems work. It should be exciting to watch.

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02-24-2009, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by NYRangers3018 View Post
You can't really turn **** to gold.
...unless you're Wade Redden's agent!

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02-24-2009, 05:46 PM
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...unless you're Wade Redden's agent!
Or Rumpelstiltskin!

Wonder if we could get him to take over as GM....


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02-24-2009, 05:47 PM
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dang what a post... Nice read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MortUWary View Post
...unless you're Wade Redden's agent!
Well played.

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02-24-2009, 05:53 PM
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Very interesting post. Thanks.

Let's just hope that Torts learned his lesson in Tampa and is able to improve on his system here in NY.

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02-24-2009, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sting36e View Post
As usual, very intriguing, Ola. And it makes sense.

The problem is that our lack of skill players hurts in BOTH systems, doesn't it? Either way, we have a problem, because we don't have enough skill.
I just dont get why people keep saying we dont have enough skill? I disagree, we have many skilled players, what we dont have is size and speed... a bunch of guys have nice shots, good passing, but we continually get beat by size and speed

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02-24-2009, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ola View Post
This is how Tortorella described it in todays interviews:


The fact that he descibes it as "our D couldn't handle it" really scares me. Because I haven't seen any D in this league who can stand up a Zach Parise, Michael Nylander or any of the talented players in this league at their own blueline on a regular basis. Its just not happening anywhere, by anyone. Phaneuf isn't able to do it, Lidström isn't able to do it, Pronger isn't able to do it. Not on a regular basis. The game have changed.
I always enjoy your posts. You have a very good understanding of the game and make very insightful observations. And I enjoyed this brief description.

However, where I will disagree with you a little is with your interpretation of Tortorella's comments with regard to his defenseman in Tampa not being able to handle it. I don't draw the conclusion that he thinks they couldn't handle it but here the defenseman will be able to handle it. At least I'm not making that assumption.

The way I interpret it is that he was too late in Tampa in making the adjustments to alleviate the frequency of the pressure on those defenseman without support. I assume this also means that he does have the ideas on how he intends to make those adjustments here.

I can't predict what the teams results will be like playing with an aggressive attack given their forwards. I can however predict that it will be far more enjoyable to watch, at least for me.

Lundqvist hasn't really appeared, at least in my eyes, to stand up well to the non-shootout breakaways and oddman rushes generated off of turnovers. So that's going to be interesting to watch.

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02-24-2009, 06:07 PM
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Ola
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Originally Posted by NYRangers3018 View Post
A very big part to a teams success. You can't really turn **** to gold.
But looking back its pretty interesting to see that you certainly can turn gold into sheit!

Bob Hartley missed the PO's with a team that had Marc Savard, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and co (Bobby Holik, Slava Kozlov, Peter Bondra, Modry, De Vries among others).

John Tortorella missed the PO's with Dan Boyle, Vinny LeCav, MSL, Brad Richards, Pavel Kubina, Prospal, Modin, Sydor and co. While John Grahame and Sean Burke didn't play well in the net -- they had enough talent to get by for sure.

But both teams had a suicidal approch in terms of X and O's.

I think its pretty remarkable neither could figure out that their style wouldn't work, not even in 3 years. I remember how Renney said the first season after the lockout that he wasn't suprised how his team was playing, he was suprised how some other teams where playing. When the redline was removed in Europe 1998 the coaches made the same misstakes. There isn't a pro coach in Europe who wouldn't right away say that its insane to play like Torts and Hartley had their teams playing without a redline.

But Tortorella is a god hockeyman, he is a great "game coach", he is a good motivator. We must just pray that he can get the X and O's in order.

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02-24-2009, 06:08 PM
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Wow....that was just awesome and very intellectual. Hopefully Torts finds a way to win here with the team they have now.

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02-24-2009, 06:09 PM
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excellent, extremely informative post. thank you so much.

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02-24-2009, 06:21 PM
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Shouldn't we give the guy at least one game to coach before we start questioning him?

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02-24-2009, 06:31 PM
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Nice post Ola, I always enjoy reading your thoughts.
This is my take on the team, and maybe more on the game in general.

Anyone who has ever played or watched hockey extensively knows that the counter attack is one of the most important facets of the game. Being able to stop an attack is half the battle, but only half the battle. Now, as you mentioned in your post, the defense alone is not able to stand up the skilled players time and time again, be it with the body, stick check etc., and I think the biggest reason for this is that the clutch and grab have been all but eliminated from the game. If you watch hockey from the pre-lockout era, defensmen (especially players like the Cullimores and such that you mentioned) were able to make up for a lack of skill, but most specifically SPEED.
Now, with this in mind, I thoroughly believe that speedy and skilled forwards are the basis to success, and here is why: If a coach is able to motivate and instill a system of backchecking, hard working forwards to assist the defense (because even the best defenders will still be hung out to dry without responsible forwards helping out), then the counter attack can be successful. The problem with players like Sjostrom is that while he has the effort and speed, and he backchecks, he is not offensively gifted enough to turn those counter attacks into goals. Don't get me wrong, I do like Sjostrom, and he has his role, but I don't think he has enough knack for the net to get the job done offensively on a consistent basis. Speedy and offensively gifted players CAN be taught to play defense (although it may not be the easiest transition), much more easily than players can be taught defense.
Anyway, that's just my rant...go Torts!

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02-24-2009, 07:06 PM
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So the system itself may not pay dividends yet, but when the likes of Sanguinetti and Del Zotto arrive (assuming they fulfill expectations) we may be in line for a successful run.

Good stuff, Ola.

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02-24-2009, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by HockeyBurd View Post

However, where I will disagree with you a little is with your interpretation of Tortorella's comments with regard to his defenseman in Tampa not being able to handle it. I don't draw the conclusion that he thinks they couldn't handle it but here the defenseman will be able to handle it. At least I'm not making that assumption.

The way I interpret it is that he was too late in Tampa in making the adjustments to alleviate the frequency of the pressure on those defenseman without support. I assume this also means that he does have the ideas on how he intends to make those adjustments here.
Me as well, my interpretation is that Tortorella meant that his system was too aggressive to handle for the D, no matter what D he had at his hand. That system was just not going to work in reality and he states that HE made a major mistake.

A very nice post though and very thoughtful considerations about Atlantas and Tampas problems post lockout, also about the offensive systems in general.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting times to come.

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02-24-2009, 07:19 PM
  #18
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So the system itself may not pay dividends yet, but when the likes of Sanguinetti and Del Zotto arrive (assuming they fulfill expectations) we may be in line for a successful run.

Good stuff, Ola.
Which makes sense why we're drafting puck moving defensemen more than hard hitters. If your defensemen can't really shut down the enemy forwards without aid from the forwards, it might help to just have guys who can get the puck out of the defensive zone ASAP, no?

Anyway, Ola, I love reading your material. Post more often!

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02-24-2009, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Ola View Post
Around 1993 New Jersey Devils started to play a system that was named "the trap" in the NHL. Later any organized defensive system have been called the trap to, so don't get hanged up on that word.

Their system was created to put players in the best positions to counterattack after you won the puck. Thats important to remeber, its a system created to create offense. And it definitly did! New Jersey Devils scoured the 2nd most amount of goals in the NHL in 1994, more then NYR and less only then the Red Wings. For example. It only became a low scoring system when everyone in the league played it at the same time.

For thoose who don't know what the real NJD trap was about; there was a man in Sweden who studid hockey at University level and wrote a paper about goals scored in hockey. He found out that like 90% of the goals at that time, the late 80's, were scored seconds after giveaways in the neutral zone. He then sat down and thought about it, every team spent all their energy on getting into the attackingzone and try to score from there -- when in reality the goals where scored not after pretty plays and passes, but after the attacking team made misstakes. A team in Sweden started playing that way, and had a ton of success with it. NJD went to Sweden to scout Tommy Albelin and the rest is histrory...

The results of the trap became that the most talented teams didn't win. You basically didn't need the skilled centers for example to win. A Bobby Holik was just as valuble.

But the teams with the Forsberg and Sakics, with the Lecavaliers and co they needed to do something.

Colorado is really the first team in the NHL who I saw play the STLYE JOHN TORTORELLA USED AS A HEAD COACH IN TAMPA in the NHL.

Its a system where you pressure all over the ice, with wingers designed and designated to be able to take away the boards, while you drop back further then the redline, you drop back further then NJD, your D's drop back all the way to their own defensive blueline. With the forwards pressureing all over the ice, you have them come back with speed and therefor you also get allot of support for your D's since your forwards are all skating at the same speed as the attacking team. Your D's then end up in perfect position to make high defensive plays at their own blue. Stand up forwards with good ol'e body checks.

The purpose with the system is that after hits like that from your D's, which results in won pucks at your defensive blueline -- the other team is then stretched out all over the neutralzone basically. That opens up room for skilled centers in the neutral zone. That won Tampa Bay the Cup. That won Colorado 2 Cups.

You don't backdown and trap at the redline like NJD as of mid 90's did. You don't play it safe with 3 guys back all the time like the leftwing lock that Detroit and Dallas used. You stress hard all over the ice, make sure that your D's have a ton of support with people comming back with speed, you have big wingers who you can pass the pcuk to up the boards who then can direct it to a skilled center right away after a won puck at your own blueline.

It sounds great, right? 3 teams have won cups with it.

But what happend after the lockout? What happend to Tortorella's Tampa Bay? What happend to ex Colorado coach Bob Hartleys Atlanta? Detroit lost Hasek but became better after the lockout. Tampa lost Bullinwall and went from the best team in the league to the worst. Why is that?

You stopped winning thoose defensive battles high up ice. Guys like Michael Nylander suddenly could skate 8's around the Sutton's, Exelby's, Vishnevsky's of the league. The Lukowich's, Sarich's and Jassen Cullimores in Tampa wasn't able to hit guys at Tampa's defensive blueline anymore. Even the Nylanders of the league suddenly could skate 8's around them.

John Tortorella never figured that out in Tampa. Bob Hartley never figured that out in Atlanta. Not even after 3 years. They kept building more and more extreme in the same direction. To get better D's, and to provide thoose D's with better support -- so that they could win thoose darn defensive battles at their own defensive bluelien...

This is how Tortorella described it in todays interviews:


The fact that he descibes it as "our D couldn't handle it" really scares me. Because I haven't seen any D in this league who can stand up a Zach Parise, Michael Nylander or any of the talented players in this league at their own blueline on a regular basis. Its just not happening anywhere, by anyone. Phaneuf isn't able to do it, Lidström isn't able to do it, Pronger isn't able to do it. Not on a regular basis. The game have changed.

The reason things turned into a disaster in both Tampa and Atlanta for example for teams with that philopsophy is that they didn't have a ALTERNATIVE "transition mechanism". Pittsburgh have also played somewhat like that, but it haven't hurt them as much because they just give the puck to Malkin or Crosby and asks them to skate with it. But it defeinitly have hurt even Pittsburgh for stretches.

The Bottomline
John Tortorella is obviously aware what got him into trouble in Tampa, but I am not really sure he got the answears to fix it. He obviously still think that philosophy can work with a "D" that can "handle it". Pretty soon he is gooing to figure out that if Tampa's blueline couldn't handle it, neither will ours in NY...

In Tampa Torts didn't have a alternative "transition mechanism". Hopefully he got some kind of plan for that here in NY. In reality, we need to hope for that Tortorella got a backup plan that turns out to be state of the art and can allow us to compete with the best in the league.

I think its pretty likely that we just speed things up and starts playing more like Montreal and Buffalo and less like Detroit basically. I know that sounds a bit nutty, because we haven't even remotely "looked" like Detroit this season. But the philospohys are the same; the standard play is to slow the tempo down and have a controlled transition play. Or to play a controlled transition game, to have it slow is no purpose in itself. There is a major diffrence in X and Os between Detroit and teams like Montreal and Buffalo. Montreal and Buffalos philosphy is not to keep the puck within the team, its about playing really safe hockey but still getting offense from it by dooing it extremely fast. The reason the controlled puckpossesion approch didn't work for us in NY is because we tryed to play a skilled puckpoession game with very little puckskills especially... It worked pretty darn well the first two seasons after the lockout, but then we where far to soft and had too poor D's to go all the way.

//Ola
(The reason I call it a news article is because there isn't a "expert" in NA who ever covers these aspects -- while they are darn vital. So I tryed to write one myself.)
Bravo Ola! Tremendous effort. It's posts like this that are the main reason I come here.

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02-24-2009, 07:29 PM
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Good read Ola.

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02-24-2009, 07:31 PM
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Excellent Ola! Thank you.

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02-24-2009, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by DubiDubiDoo View Post
I just dont get why people keep saying we dont have enough skill? I disagree, we have many skilled players, what we dont have is size and speed... a bunch of guys have nice shots, good passing, but we continually get beat by size and speed
Maybe your right.. we do win in shootouts and have a great pk.. which means individually, we have some skill. Its gonna be fun to see if they can all come together, if not, then gd luck trying to get other pieces to the puzzle

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02-24-2009, 07:42 PM
  #23
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But looking back its pretty interesting to see that you certainly can turn gold into sheit!

Bob Hartley missed the PO's with a team that had Marc Savard, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and co (Bobby Holik, Slava Kozlov, Peter Bondra, Modry, De Vries among others).

John Tortorella missed the PO's with Dan Boyle, Vinny LeCav, MSL, Brad Richards, Pavel Kubina, Prospal, Modin, Sydor and co. While John Grahame and Sean Burke didn't play well in the net -- they had enough talent to get by for sure.

But both teams had a suicidal approch in terms of X and O's.

I think its pretty remarkable neither could figure out that their style wouldn't work, not even in 3 years. I remember how Renney said the first season after the lockout that he wasn't suprised how his team was playing, he was suprised how some other teams where playing. When the redline was removed in Europe 1998 the coaches made the same misstakes. There isn't a pro coach in Europe who wouldn't right away say that its insane to play like Torts and Hartley had their teams playing without a redline.

But Tortorella is a god hockeyman, he is a great "game coach", he is a good motivator. We must just pray that he can get the X and O's in order.

Good stuff Ola. But I have to correct you a little.

The Lightning made the playoffs when they had those guys and were healthy. They missed when former GM Jay Feaster crippled the depth of the team by letting Kubina, Modin and couple of others go. Last season Torts didn't have much depth on that team down there and the blueline was almost as big a mess as it has been this season. And the goaltending was still ****** be it Burke, Grahame, Denis, etc.

Throw on top of that a clearly injured Lecavalier playing through pain all of or almost all of last season + Dan Boyle missing time and you had a Lightning team that was toast.

Certainly Tortorella should have eased off the gas pedal on his system and even he acknowledges that but there were too many issues to deal with last season for that team...which quite frankly, weren't dealt with well for this season either down there.


Last edited by BwayBshirt: 02-24-2009 at 07:55 PM.
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02-24-2009, 09:07 PM
  #24
HockeyBasedNYC
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Very intricate and well thought out post Ola... impressive. Enjoyed reading it very much.

This is an excellent post considering what Torts said today, and it helps explains where he's coming from and quite possibly the shortfalls of his philosophy. The very fact that he realizes what he did wrong is a positive thing to hear as a Rangers fan. Lets hope he does have a plan to go along with it, and theres enough time and patience to implement it over 21(+ hopefully) games - and into next season.

The one thing that is a little lost in all of this is no matter what even strength system you deploy, you can only go as far as your special teams take you. We've seen what the PK can do for this team, and adversely we all know how the PP kills them. Tortorella brings more than just a motivation factor, but a history of decent Powerplay units. Hes won championships at every level and I believe his is the type of coach to be honest with his players and more importantly himself, with that comes the ability to adapt.

The most important thing about Torts style is this: When he has goaltending, its unstoppable at times. We all know that he's got one of the best and expect him to lean on Lundqvist as the backbone and catalyst of his philosophy. There is a reason why Torts has had run-ins with goalies in the past.


On a side note:
Another thing that i think holds a little water in the Rangers situation is something that is an intangible, but one that could hold more value for this particular team than any other in the league - the atmosphere. A more aggressive form of play will most certainly boost the morale of the Garden (not too mention the GF total) and that could make a difference, especially in the minds of the Rangers themselves. Its been a drab, boring and sometimes silent crowd most nights. Theres no way around that. A more aggressive style can only help things in the Garden.

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02-24-2009, 09:29 PM
  #25
DrewN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ola View Post
Bob Hartley missed the PO's with a team that had Marc Savard, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and co (Bobby Holik, Slava Kozlov, Peter Bondra, Modry, De Vries among others).

John Tortorella missed the PO's with Dan Boyle, Vinny LeCav, MSL, Brad Richards, Pavel Kubina, Prospal, Modin, Sydor and co. While John Grahame and Sean Burke didn't play well in the net -- they had enough talent to get by for sure.
Lehtonen (ATL) and Grahame/Burke (at that time) just aren't in the same league as Khabibulin and (hopefully) Lundqvist. You'd think the goalies make the difference here as well, no?

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