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Does Sacco clash with pure offensive players?

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Old
03-26-2012, 01:04 PM
  #1
R S
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Does Sacco clash with pure offensive players?

I started thinking about this last game as I watched Matt Duchene play horrendously in the third period, with a guy like Peter Mueller being a healthy scratch.

Does Joe Sacco simply clash with pure offensive players?

There is lots of evidence to back it up, it would seem. You look at a guy like Paul Stastny. Prior to Sacco taking over as coach, Stastny was essentially a 70+ player in all three seasons of his NHL career (one being an injury-shortened season). Since that time, Paul has gone from 79 points to 57 points to now only 51 points. Yes, he's becoming amazingly responsible defensively and is great on faceoffs, but he is no longer a very good offensive producer. You can definitely say that Sacco has helped mold him into his current form.

Not only that, but Sacco seems to always struggle to find proper line combinations with the teams best offensive players. Guys like Stastny, Hejduk, Mueller, Jones and Duchene have bounced all over the place over the last couple of seasons, making it hard to get chemistry and produce offensively.

The guys he always seems to have the most success with are meat and potatoes type of guys like O'Reilly, Landeskog and now McGinn and Downie. Why is this? Is it because he has an ego himself and has something against offensive players who might not be as responsible as others? Is it because he was never a pure offensive player and doesn't understand how to use them? I'm not sure.

And with all this being said, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I think Stastny is a much better asset for us now then he was 2-3 years ago. He's underrated defensively and makes plays on a night to night basis that most fans don't even see.

It's also not like our team has struggled to score goals, for the most part. We still play an up tempo style of game and still score our fair share of goals. There is nothing wrong with teaching all of our young players to be good in their own zone, it will be a great lesson for them going forward as we become a playoff contender again.

I just think that you still need that pure offense as a team that seems to be lacking, especially this year, despite us having some very talented pure offensive players.

Does anyone else see this as a problem for us going forward?

I was a big "Fire Sacco" guy almost from the day he was hired...even when he made the playoffs in his first year on the job. I just think that he's done a lot of good things for this team, even if he doesn't know how to handle our stars properly.

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03-26-2012, 01:17 PM
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From what I have seen, the only "system" Sacco has really employed is a pure dump and chase game.

This allows grinders and more physical players to excel, while more offensive players like the ones you mentioned seem to struggle.

On top of this, I think that if offensive players were more appreciated then there would have been some attempt at keeping Fleischmann, and to a lesser extent Liles or Shattenkirk.

HOWEVER, there is no way we can blame it all on the coach when Duchene is missing the puck from 10 feet in front of the net, and Hejduk/Mueller seem to have a top speed of about half that of everyone else.

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03-26-2012, 01:22 PM
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All of the players you mentioned have had some success at some point with Sacco, some more than others. This year, we have been a more defensive minded team than in some of the previous years and it has shown in some individuals numbers. I wouldn't put the blame solely on Sacco though, even if he isn't the greatest coach in the world.

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03-26-2012, 01:22 PM
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Sacco wants his most reliable players on the ice. "Offensive" players like you Mueller and Duchene are also the most prone to mistakes, poor defense, and turnovers. Stastny's line mates in those years, compared to the past 2 aren't comparable. He has had a huge reduction in talent on his wings. Even McGinn and Jones aren't going to be good enough for Stastny to get to 80 points. Stastny needs someone who is great on the boards. Jones is decent and has done a lot of the hard work for that line in the past month, but he isn't close to what Brunette or Smyth were. Mueller is so far behind the play for 75% of the time he is on the ice. I don't understand the uproar for him being scratched. Hejduk doesn't count IMO. He was a top line player last year and his play has regressed significantly.

IMO, Sacco is implementing the only system that will come close to getting us in the playoffs. I'm not sure what you mean by "offensive", but even the Avs in their glory years were a defense first team. Sakic and Forsberg were elite, hall of fame players. They played within the system and were responsible. Sacco isn't holding back 90 point players on this team. He is trying to get them to work as a group, and get buy in from every player on the roster. As much as I wanted Sacco gone during our struggles this season it is becoming more evident that he didn't get buy in from some of the roster and they weren't implementing the playing style Sacco wanted . That is on the players, and they seemed to have bought in now, and are seeing success because of it. This is just a part of a young core.

One of the things that I am disappointed with this season from a coaching stand point is Johnson's ice time. I think after Christmas he was our best defender for a good stretch but was still given 20-22 minutes a night. Johnson gets more involved and imposes himself on the game the more minutes he plays. Hopefully next season he will be given more icetime.

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03-26-2012, 01:25 PM
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Sacco demands north-south play more than almost any other coach and the system in place also emphasizes this, as well. This is why we dump so much into our own zone. Most of our players at this point instinctively dump it in and chase after it. We play about as simple as it gets, and for some players like Duchene, who strive on creativity and east-west play, definitely hurts a little bit. And for the most part, our coaches know that above all else, this is a type of system that will always work in the NHL. It will never be the most flashy or creative system in the NHL, but if you give the effort necessary, it'll work.

Does it inhibit our players? You could argue that, I'm sure. But I think playing simple hockey is always a great way to see if the fundamentals are there for our team. And I think above all else, players who exhibit great fundamentals do well on our team. Guys like Landy, O'Reilly, and Stasnty exhibit fundamentals to a T, we generally see them as the most successful guys on our team.

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03-26-2012, 01:28 PM
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Sacco was a pretty poor offensive player himself, so he probably relates to the grind em guys better.

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03-26-2012, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bohlmeister View Post
Sacco wants his most reliable players on the ice. "Offensive" players like you Mueller and Duchene are also the most prone to mistakes, poor defense, and turnovers. Stastny's line mates in those years, compared to the past 2 aren't comparable. He has had a huge reduction in talent on his wings. Even McGinn and Jones aren't going to be good enough for Stastny to get to 80 points. Stastny needs someone who is great on the boards. Jones is decent and has done a lot of the hard work for that line in the past month, but he isn't close to what Brunette or Smyth were. Mueller is so far behind the play for 75% of the time he is on the ice. I don't understand the uproar for him being scratched. Hejduk doesn't count IMO. He was a top line player last year and his play has regressed significantly.

IMO, Sacco is implementing the only system that will come close to getting us in the playoffs. I'm not sure what you mean by "offensive", but even the Avs in their glory years were a defense first team. Sakic and Forsberg were elite, hall of fame players. They played within the system and were responsible. Sacco isn't holding back 90 point players on this team. He is trying to get them to work as a group, and get buy in from every player on the roster. As much as I wanted Sacco gone during our struggles this season it is becoming more evident that he didn't get buy in from some of the roster and they weren't implementing the playing style Sacco wanted . That is on the players, and they seemed to have bought in now, and are seeing success because of it. This is just a part of a young core.

One of the things that I am disappointed with this season from a coaching stand point is Johnson's ice time. I think after Christmas he was our best defender for a good stretch but was still given 20-22 minutes a night. Johnson gets more involved and imposes himself on the game the more minutes he plays. Hopefully next season he will be given more icetime.
Really good post.

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03-26-2012, 01:37 PM
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lol Stastny's best offensive year came with Sacco

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03-26-2012, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by NothingLikeAnEJ View Post
lol Stastny's best offensive year came with Sacco
Point wise, sure, but I'd say his best offensive year was his first where he put up 1 less point but 8 more goals.

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03-26-2012, 02:09 PM
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Nope, Sacco is responsible for a lot of things wrong with the a vs but the struggles of Duchene and Stastny is not on him. Yes, he hasn't helped their causes and a better coach probably would gotten them out of they're slumps faster but its still on the players to play better and give a better effort. Stastny had his best year with Sacco and Duchene was pretty successful under Sacco ,before this year.

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03-26-2012, 02:12 PM
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Sacco has done everything to get Duchene to shine. Best picks of line mates and lots of offensive zone starts.

I think Duchenes problems lie elsewhere. He is a bit predictable offensively and easy to push to the outside. More and more teams in the league swarm down low, meaning offense comes from the points and traffic to the net.

Avs have abandoned the run and gun system we used to have, but any realistic fan should know that was a dead end. Even if it made Duchene look a bit better.

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03-26-2012, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe Sakic View Post
Point wise, sure, but I'd say his best offensive year was his first where he put up 1 less point but 8 more goals.
League scoring was really high and there were many more PPs then, too.

PPG players
This season: 12 (excludes Marcus Foligno)
10-11: 14
09-10: 22
08-09: 22
07-08: 23
06-07: 33

I'd say his best offensive season was 09-10 where he was 18th in the NHL in scoring.

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03-26-2012, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by NothingLikeAnEJ View Post
lol Stastny's best offensive year came with Sacco
In Sacco's first full year as an NHL coach.

And since that time? Stastny has slowly been molded into a defense-first player, that's easy to see.

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03-26-2012, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Renegade Stylings View Post
In Sacco's first full year as an NHL coach.

And since that time? Stastny has slowly been molded into a defense-first player, that's easy to see.
His defense was just as bad as his offense when he was struggling. Even now its not that great, I certainly wouldn't call him a defense first player.

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03-26-2012, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Renegade Stylings View Post
In Sacco's first full year as an NHL coach.

And since that time? Stastny has slowly been molded into a defense-first player, that's easy to see.
Defense first? He's always had a good defensive acumen, but I wouldn't call him a checking center by any means.

Honestly I don't think Sacco is much different than any other coach in this league. How many coaches in the NHL do you remember, especially in this era, who have sustained success and don't put an emphasis on defense? The last "hey guys do whatever you want" coach I can remember was John Anderson, the 2nd-to-last guy to ever coach the Atlanta Thrashers.

I don't think Sacco loses faith in players necessarily because of a lack of attention to defense. On the contrary--David Jones is definitely playing better defense than he was when he was in Sacco's doghouse, but he's still not anything I'd call a defensively responsible forward. No, the reason Duchene and Mueller have fallen out of favor with Sacco is because neither is doing enough to secure the puck. Too many puck battles lost and too many turnovers. As a result, neither is producing all that much offensively. And ANY coach would do the same, at least those with any sense.

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03-26-2012, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Av-merican View Post

I don't think Sacco loses faith in players necessarily because of a lack of attention to defense. On the contrary--David Jones is definitely playing better defense than he was when he was in Sacco's doghouse, but he's still not anything I'd call a defensively responsible forward.
He's looked rather good on the PK. Not counting that delay of game recently.

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03-26-2012, 03:23 PM
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He's looked rather good on the PK. Not counting that delay of game recently.
You're right, he has, surprisingly so. Still, he's a far cry from a Selke contender. Not saying he has to be, but the main reason Jones has won back Sacco's favor is that he's just playing better hockey.

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03-26-2012, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Renegade Stylings View Post
There is lots of evidence to back it up, it would seem.
But there's also lots of evidence to refute the claim that Joe Sacco clashes with offensive players. Exhibits A and B are Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann, both players whom lit it up immediately upon joining the Avalanche.

Quote:
Not only that, but Sacco seems to always struggle to find proper line combinations with the teams best offensive players. Guys like Stastny, Hejduk, Mueller, Jones and Duchene have bounced all over the place over the last couple of seasons, making it hard to get chemistry and produce offensively.
I really disagree with this. Except when injuries (or trades) strike, Sacco is consistent with his lines. Last year things were a huge mess at the end because of the aforementioned two reasons, but this year or in 2009-2010?

Sacco does juggle lines, but when he finds something that works he sticks to it. There's also some consistency in his pairings, as Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk have almost always been together, as well as Paul Stastny and David Jones (and previously Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart). Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog haven't been broken up all season, if memory serves me.

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03-26-2012, 04:05 PM
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But there's also lots of evidence to refute the claim that Joe Sacco clashes with offensive players. Exhibits A and B are Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann, both players whom lit it up immediately upon joining the Avalanche.
And we see that with a huge portion of players traded to a new team. They are in a new city with new fans and new teammates...they often bust their balls and often produce at a higher rate with their new team, atleast for a short period of time.

It's the same case with McGinn and Downie this year.

That hardly proves anything about Sacco and what he does with offensive players over long stretches of time.

Like I said in my original post, I'm not necessarily knocking Sacco for what he's done with guys like Stastny, who is now a very good defensive center. It was just an interesting thing I've noticed. Like I said, there's nothing wrong with wanting our young team to become more responsible defensively.

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03-26-2012, 04:08 PM
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If constantly changing line combos disrupted offense, the Avs would not have been one of the highest scoring teams in the league under Quenneville then, nor would the Blackhawks be one of the highest scoring teams in the league under Quenneville now.

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03-26-2012, 04:08 PM
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In Ottawa, we saw an example of this with Cory Clouston. He absolutely wanted to maked every forward a two way forward. I believe it led to his demise...

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03-26-2012, 04:09 PM
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But there's also lots of evidence to refute the claim that Joe Sacco clashes with offensive players. Exhibits A and B are Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann, both players whom lit it up immediately upon joining the Avalanche.
Not that I agree one way or the other in this conversation. But how they played immediately after showing up, isn't necessarily how they would play the following season. Sacco wouldn't have been able to train them to his "system" that quickly either.

Stastny took a season or more, if we're going by this theory.

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03-26-2012, 04:17 PM
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I don't think Sacco wants to turn Duchene into a two-way player (in the sense that he has to sacrifice offense). I just think he wants him to turn into an effective offensive player, which he currently isn't.

When I see Duchene I don't see a player that is forced to play in a way that doesn't fit him. I see a player struggling to use his abilities in a useful way. The puck bounces off his stick, he doesn't get his shots off and he has a hard time getting to the scoring areas.

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03-26-2012, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Renegade Stylings View Post
And we see that with a huge portion of players traded to a new team. They are in a new city with new fans and new teammates...they often bust their balls and often produce at a higher rate with their new team, atleast for a short period of time.

It's the same case with McGinn and Downie this year.

That hardly proves anything about Sacco and what he does with offensive players over long stretches of time.
Peter Mueller had more points in 15 games with the Avalanche than he did in 54 with the Coyotes, while Jamie McGinn has gone from a depth player in San Jose to a top-six sniper with the Avalanche.

That's a little more than producing at a higher rate, and even if it isn't evidence than Sacco gets the most out of his offensive players, it certainly doesn't indicate he clashes with them.

It's hard to find an example of consistent long term production because the Avalanche's roster has changed so much in the past three years. But of the forwards who've been with Colorado the whole time, Ryan O'Reilly's production has gone up, Matt Duchene has had two good years before this one (which has been filled with injury), David Jones has established himself as a decent scoring threat, and Milan Hejduk was his consistent self until the mid-way point of this season and Sacco was forced to move him to a non-scoring line (at least for a few games).

The fluctuating production says more to me about the talent level and age of the roster more than it does about Sacco's handling of players.

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03-26-2012, 04:26 PM
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I don't think Sacco wants to turn Duchene into a two-way player (in the sense that he has to sacrifice offense). I just think he wants him to turn into an effective offensive player, which he currently isn't.

When I see Duchene I don't see a player that is forced to play in a way that doesn't fit him. I see a player struggling to use his abilities in a useful way. The puck bounces off his stick, he doesn't get his shots off and he has a hard time getting to the scoring areas.
Exactly. And he throws the puck away too often to be a player that gets significant ice time.

And I would say that Stastny's effort has regressed since his first few seasons. He doesn't win as many board battles as he used to and he doesn't compete as hard. At least that is what I see.

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