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Early Season Thoughts

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10-08-2009, 11:36 AM
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CitizenCoyote
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Early Season Thoughts

Well, two games is an incredibly small sample size. But there are a few things that are jumping out of the tv screen at me. I'm not much of an Xs and Os kind of guy, but I'm sort of wondering what others are seeing, since it makes watching the games more interactive to get a sense of what others are seeing. Here are the things I've noticed.

1) It's clear that we are a very fast team. But this coaching staff seems to be using the speed in a very different way from how it was used last year and, maybe a better comparison, the year before. In the past, we tried to use the speed to be a run and gun team, but our talent and finishing level wasn't quite up to the task. This year, it seems we're translating our guys' ability to get that extra half step to be a better possession team. The payoff of better possession is like a domino effect -- drawing more penalties, forcing quicker opponent line changes, particularly late, and of course reducing our opponents' time in the offensive zone. I never really have thought of speed and forecheck in the same sentence, but they are related, and we seem to be learning to take advantage of the speed in the right way.

2) Our defensive shape is incredibly different. It's like watching two different teams from last year. Some of the guys are really getting it too. Like a light bulb has gone off. You can just see Yandle, for example, flourishing with very specific direction about how to play his position. Vandermeer and Aucoin seem to get it too. It's a completely different look. Jovanovski is probably hopeless. He's going to do what he's going to do, but it's ok to have one guy like that, and he gives us an awful lot of other things with his toughness and shooting abilities. Interestingly, Michalek seems to be struggling a bit to figure it out, which is funny because I'd argue he's been the team's most consistent player for the last two years. He'll figure it out quickly.

3) If I could add one thing to this team, it would be a big guy who can clog up the area in front of the net and get his stick on shots from the point for deflections. It seems as though Hanzal could be that guy with work, but not yet. Is that something Pyatt can do? I don't know him that well. He's certainly got good size. With Pronger out of the conference, we actually might be able to make some hay in this area in the division this year, except maybe against the Sharks.

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