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Old
01-14-2013, 04:45 PM
  #126
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Originally Posted by Halpysback View Post
LA and Jersey both used aggressive man to man. Yeah, they forechecked a ton and pressed hard on offense but when they had to do defense you had Salvador and Greene chase puck carriers around and rough them as hard as they could. Nashville has man to man too, it's one of their reasons their defense was so good despite only having 2 great defensemen with both playing on the same pairing. It's simply much more effective. Detroit used zone during their glory years a couple years back but their players have more hockey IQ than the rest of the league combined. If we had 6 Alzners I'd be all for it.

Man to man forces the opposing team to constantly hustle and constantly be pressured. Your lower IQ guys like Green, Schultz and Carlson are at an advantage since they know all they need to do is overpower and disturb whoever they are chasing rather than figuring out all the lanes they need to be covering, which they're not particularly good at. Zone gives the opposition ample time to set up plays. When you're doing zone, you're hoping they make a mistake with minimal pressure on them. If you want zone defense in a nutshell watch the Caps Tampa series where we got swept.

It's possible to do man to man with more offensive commitment. Trotz does it in Nashville. Playing man to man doesn't mean you have to pass up empty net chances and dump the puck 90% of the time. That was all Hunter.
Yes defensemen usually are man to man, but the forwards usually use zone, as they should, but did not do last year. Also, the Defensemen played a much stricter zone. They'd chase the opposing forwards wherever they went which was dumb (same with the Caps forwards chasing the other teams D) and caused there to be no breakout options the majority of the time, which in turn made just blindly chipping the puck out a legitimate breakout option the majority of the time. And as a result the Caps had about 2 odd man rushes per game (for the most part), and when they dumped the puck they had 1 forward up the ice which causes little forecheck pressure and an easy breakout for the other team.

Now I'm not saying some man to man is bad, but the extent to which the Caps used it last year was just stupid as they did not focus on scoring whatsoever, and that was the reason they couldn't advance in the playoffs.

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01-14-2013, 04:53 PM
  #127
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Originally Posted by caps4cup View Post
Yes defensemen usually are man to man, but the forwards usually use zone, as they should, but did not do last year. Also, the Defensemen played a much stricter zone. They'd chase the opposing forwards wherever they went which was dumb (same with the Caps forwards chasing the other teams D) and caused there to be no breakout options the majority of the time, which in turn made just blindly chipping the puck out a legitimate breakout option the majority of the time. And as a result the Caps had about 2 odd man rushes per game (for the most part), and when they dumped the puck they had 1 forward up the ice which causes little forecheck pressure and an easy breakout for the other team.

Now I'm not saying some man to man is bad, but the extent to which the Caps used it last year was just stupid as they did not focus on scoring whatsoever, and that was the reason they couldn't advance in the playoffs.
Forwards fully playing zone still gives the other team an advantage. Most cup winning teams play some variation of 5 man offense - 5 man defense. The puck carriers need to be heavily pressured all the time and defensemen sometimes have to retreat and play zone to clear the crease. I think having 1-2 forwards playing man to man and one setting himself up for a breakout would be most effective. For the top line (which I think realistically could be Laich-Backstrom-Ovechkin) I'd have Laich chase people, Backstrom play zone (since he's smart enough to actually read plays) and Ovechkin circle to get into position for good breakout passes/opportunities. For the 2nd line (which I think would then be Johansson-Ribeiro-Brouwer/Fehr), I'd have Brouwer/Fehr do the chasing and Johansson be the breakout lightning rod. For bottom 6 lines it doesn't matter as much since they don't need a clean breakout, but Chimera and Hendricks seem capable of it.

Hunter overdid it and had practically no offensive gameplan but you cannot argue that it made scoring on us extremely hard. Holtby was great, but he was very sloppy with rebounds and with our previous defensive system would have been lit up on those.

I favor some version of what Trotz was doing mixed with what DeBoer was doing. We're not smart enough to play like Detroit and not gritty enough to play like LA.

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01-14-2013, 08:14 PM
  #128
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No 43 in 182 isn't bad at all, especially when you take into account the 10 minutes of ice time and virtually no PP time he got under Boudreau.

How many were clutch? I have no idea. How many would it take for this no risk / moderate reward deal to be worth it in your eyes?
The signing in itself, wouldn't bother me, if it were the exception, and not the rule.

Not trying to be negative... I'd just like to see us improve... have some type of plan... instead of always making our moves in reaction.

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01-14-2013, 08:48 PM
  #129
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Originally Posted by sunnydaycrash View Post
Again you're making a lot of assumptions. Fehr mentioned there were a few offers and he chose the Caps. I'd consider signing the likes of Jason Doig, Bryan Muir,Mathieu Biron,etc dumpster diving but not a 27 yr old who's 3 seasons removed from 21 goals, and has dealt with his share of major injuries.
Yes, that's the problem. He's 3 years removed from his only 20g+ season and has had more than his share of significant injuries. Maybe he's a team guy and maybe he rebounds here, but this is certainly dumpster diving. Low risk, extremely low reward likely.

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01-14-2013, 10:21 PM
  #130
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Originally Posted by Halpysback View Post
LA and Jersey both used aggressive man to man. Yeah, they forechecked a ton and pressed hard on offense but when they had to do defense you had Salvador and Greene chase puck carriers around and rough them as hard as they could. Nashville has man to man too, it's one of their reasons their defense was so good despite only having 2 great defensemen with both playing on the same pairing. It's simply much more effective. Detroit used zone during their glory years a couple years back but their players have more hockey IQ than the rest of the league combined. If we had 6 Alzners I'd be all for it.

Man to man forces the opposing team to constantly hustle and constantly be pressured. Your lower IQ guys like Green, Schultz and Carlson are at an advantage since they know all they need to do is overpower and disturb whoever they are chasing rather than figuring out all the lanes they need to be covering, which they're not particularly good at. Zone gives the opposition ample time to set up plays. When you're doing zone, you're hoping they make a mistake with minimal pressure on them. If you want zone defense in a nutshell watch the Caps Tampa series where we got swept.

It's possible to do man to man with more offensive commitment. Trotz does it in Nashville. Playing man to man doesn't mean you have to pass up empty net chances and dump the puck 90% of the time. That was all Hunter.
Geez guy,

I was wrong about you (and a number of others here).

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01-14-2013, 10:25 PM
  #131
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Originally Posted by BTCG View Post
The signing in itself, wouldn't bother me, if it were the exception, and not the rule.

Not trying to be negative... I'd just like to see us improve... have some type of plan... instead of always making our moves in reaction.
Would you have preferred Fehr after a nice little stint in Finland or nobody?

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01-14-2013, 10:46 PM
  #132
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Originally Posted by Millhaus View Post
Would you have preferred Fehr after a nice little stint in Finland or nobody?
Like most, if it's a choice between Fehr and nobody, Fehr wins.

But he wasn't the only option available.

We've seen this before, a reclamation project of a player turned out in the past. The only one that worked even slightly has Halpern, and we misused him by leaving him on the bench late in games when we desperately needed a face-off win.

This wasn't about Fehr, this was about George. Bring back a familiar face... helps to off-set the anger many will feel when it dawns on them that we're in another rebuild.

C'mon, that's the truth here.

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01-15-2013, 02:03 AM
  #133
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Geez guy,

I was wrong about you (and a number of others here).
What do you mean by that?

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01-15-2013, 02:37 AM
  #134
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Clearly one of Dale or JJ or both looked at our Dmen and decided it was best to go to man. Who was struggling at zone, if anyone, when they came on board.

I still laugh that Sarge got grounded.

I agree when we did finally get the breakout started, we were often discombobulated and no one knew where anyone would be.

We were one goal away from the ECF doing it.

When we played zone think 2 seasons ago, if Green didn't hit Ovi stretching the D, we also struggled, but it was more structured. Teams knew if they took out Green, we were dead in the water. And we were.
There's another difference people aren't getting. Hunter, for all his supposed incompetence understood the essence of successful hockey, something McPhee and so many other execs simply do not get. I guess it comes with being a successful grinding player, since Sutter seems to get it as well. The absolute best path to success is to limit the amount of thinking done by the players as much as possible. Thinking is the #1 enemy in professional sports. That's why teams always preach about "identity" and whatnot. Identity is a form of brainwashing, and brainwashing takes activities that require thought and makes them reflex. Ever see Mike Green spend 30 seconds at our goal line trying to think his way to a perfect breakout only to lob it to an icing/interception? Notice how that pretty much never happened under Hunter?

People think Datsyuk and Lidstrom and other successful high end hockey IQ players think the game through super hard and are successful because of it. In reality they give the same amount of thought as successful pluggers - very little. Lidstrom's breakouts and diffusion of dump ins were complete and utter reflex, as are Datsyuk's stick lifts. They have nothing going through their head as they are doing it. As a result, they are half a second to a second ahead of players who actually try to consciously think everything through, and that makes all the difference. Backstrom is the same - he makes offensive and defensive plays that look really well thought out but in reality have as much mental exertion behind them as Chimera barging in for an offsides, his instincts take care of the rest. So is Alzner - compare him defending a 2 on 1 vs Green or Schultz. He has absolutely no hesitation about what he is going to do - because he's not thinking about it, just completely following his instincts. Same with covering lanes, clearing the crease or diffusing dump and chases. IMO he's our most important defenseman and it's not close. Semin overthought pretty much everything, except on the PK where he shut his brain off (he personally said as much). As a result his PKing was always super impressive even though to the untrained eye he seems like the least capable PK guy in the league (other teams' fans think as much).

Under Boudreau we'd often see players defeated by their own brains. Green or Semin holding the puck on the PP for 45 seconds waiting for lanes to open up come to mind. Green lobbing the puck god knows where under zero pressure waiting for the perfect breakout (already mentioned above). Boudreau yelling at them which served only to confuse them further. I get the feeling we'll see lots of it again this year. After what we got used to last year on defense it will be especially painful.

The truth is, if we go back to Boudreau's style most of the effort we saw under Hunter will evaporate. Not because the players are lazy, but because the effort under him was reflexive. Everyone pulled back on defense without putting any thought into it. Everyone followed their man around without worrying about doing anything else. No one stood around thinking what they should do next - they just did it (on defense at least). This automatically gave them a huge advantage over teams trying to score - making offensive plays generally requires a fair deal of thought for most players, and as a result our guys on defense were always a split second ahead since they didn't have their brains slowing them down. This is why no team could ever pull away from us. Now, we'll go back to seeing Mike Green being the last man back, struggling with the puck as opposing players are closing in, and our guys locked in deep thought over whether they should cheat on offense or get back and support him. Didn't happen under Hunter other than maybe once or twice a series total.

Also, this beautiful, just and righteous war on thought is the reason for Hunter's much maligned empty net strategy - he wanted to completely eliminate that little parasitic idea that there's an empty net out there and scoring it would ice the game. It's an extremely tempting thought, but being an idea it inevitably interferes with the reflex and identity based performance he coveted. He reverse-inceptioned our guys. You can say it lost us the series against the Rangers, but really what lost it for us was Holtby's softy on Richards in game 7. That doesn't happen, we win, get crushed by the Devils who were slightly ahead of us on the APM curve, but finally have the 2nd round monkey off our back and know what to build on. Instead we can pretend like last year wasn't a huge step in the right diretion since the *end result* was the *same*. That seems to be the company line now. Go back to offense, let Ovi be Ovi, Oatsy will save us. Whoopde ****ing doo.

Hunter didn't have the time to (or maybe wasn't capable of) teaching them the same thoughtless offense, but it is possible to do so. Darryl Sutter did it and coached his team to the most dominant playoff run in recent if not all history. DeBoer did it and managed to get to the SCF with a plebeian defense and a 40 year old goalie who wasn't as great as everyone is fond of saying now. This is a tried and tested formula that works pretty much always. Who ever can perform the most complex actions while exerting the least amount of thought wins. Talents like speed, physicality, hockey IQ, good wrist shot, all let players do some things with much less thought than others. I'm pretty sure EA sports found a way to quantify all of it pretty accurately and that is why all their predictions are so accurate. If I was a crazy bearded man I'd work out the formula myself. Watch Devils-Flyers and Devils-Rangers again. Devils are on a completely another level offensively, even though the personnel for both was largely comparable. Both Rangers and Flyers put a lot more thought into their plays and as a result were much slower to react. Devils' forwards had about as much going through their minds as great whites do and as a result were just as lethal. Gionta-Carter-Bernier just derping away to great success, chipping away at the Rangers bit by bit. 3 AHLers bringing down the Richardss and Gaboriks of the world to their knees because they managed to run around and be at the right place at the right time simply because that's what their collective game added up to.

I'd suggest everyone to rewatch the final SCF game from last year as well. When the Kings have already put the game away, they are absolutely clinical in everything they do. There is no hesitation at any point. Not on defense, not on breakouts, not on clearing the zone, not on forecheck. Watch the last 5 minutes of that series. It's beautiful.


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01-15-2013, 08:35 AM
  #135
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What do you mean by that?
You're quite knowledgeable about the sport, and write pretty darn well.

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01-15-2013, 09:20 AM
  #136
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you need confidence to play mindless hockey and you need success to build confidence, give it some time it will come back.

Saying we are not capable of playing winning hockey is ignorant this core won the presidents trophy. Caps are a good team not just a bunch of mindless idiots that think to slow to play smart hockey.

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01-15-2013, 09:21 AM
  #137
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Originally Posted by Halpysback View Post
There's another difference people aren't getting. Hunter, for all his supposed incompetence understood the essence of successful hockey, something McPhee and so many other execs simply do not get. I guess it comes with being a successful grinding player, since Sutter seems to get it as well. The absolute best path to success is to limit the amount of thinking done by the players as much as possible. Thinking is the #1 enemy in professional sports. That's why teams always preach about "identity" and whatnot. Identity is a form of brainwashing, and brainwashing takes activities that require thought and makes them reflex. Ever see Mike Green spend 30 seconds at our goal line trying to think his way to a perfect breakout only to lob it to an icing/interception? Notice how that pretty much never happened under Hunter?

People think Datsyuk and Lidstrom and other successful high end hockey IQ players think the game through super hard and are successful because of it. In reality they give the same amount of thought as successful pluggers - very little. Lidstrom's breakouts and diffusion of dump ins were complete and utter reflex, as are Datsyuk's stick lifts. They have nothing going through their head as they are doing it. As a result, they are half a second to a second ahead of players who actually try to consciously think everything through, and that makes all the difference. Backstrom is the same - he makes offensive and defensive plays that look really well thought out but in reality have as much mental exertion behind them as Chimera barging in for an offsides, his instincts take care of the rest. So is Alzner - compare him defending a 2 on 1 vs Green or Schultz. He has absolutely no hesitation about what he is going to do - because he's not thinking about it, just completely following his instincts. Same with covering lanes, clearing the crease or diffusing dump and chases. IMO he's our most important defenseman and it's not close. Semin overthought pretty much everything, except on the PK where he shut his brain off (he personally said as much). As a result his PKing was always super impressive even though to the untrained eye he seems like the least capable PK guy in the league (other teams' fans think as much).

Under Boudreau we'd often see players defeated by their own brains. Green or Semin holding the puck on the PP for 45 seconds waiting for lanes to open up come to mind. Green lobbing the puck god knows where under zero pressure waiting for the perfect breakout (already mentioned above). Boudreau yelling at them which served only to confuse them further. I get the feeling we'll see lots of it again this year. After what we got used to last year on defense it will be especially painful.

The truth is, if we go back to Boudreau's style most of the effort we saw under Hunter will evaporate. Not because the players are lazy, but because the effort under him was reflexive. Everyone pulled back on defense without putting any thought into it. Everyone followed their man around without worrying about doing anything else. No one stood around thinking what they should do next - they just did it (on defense at least). This automatically gave them a huge advantage over teams trying to score - making offensive plays generally requires a fair deal of thought for most players, and as a result our guys on defense were always a split second ahead since they didn't have their brains slowing them down. This is why no team could ever pull away from us. Now, we'll go back to seeing Mike Green being the last man back, struggling with the puck as opposing players are closing in, and our guys locked in deep thought over whether they should cheat on offense or get back and support him. Didn't happen under Hunter other than maybe once or twice a series total.

Also, this beautiful, just and righteous war on thought is the reason for Hunter's much maligned empty net strategy - he wanted to completely eliminate that little parasitic idea that there's an empty net out there and scoring it would ice the game. It's an extremely tempting thought, but being an idea it inevitably interferes with the reflex and identity based performance he coveted. He reverse-inceptioned our guys. You can say it lost us the series against the Rangers, but really what lost it for us was Holtby's softy on Richards in game 7. That doesn't happen, we win, get crushed by the Devils who were slightly ahead of us on the APM curve, but finally have the 2nd round monkey off our back and know what to build on. Instead we can pretend like last year wasn't a huge step in the right diretion since the *end result* was the *same*. That seems to be the company line now. Go back to offense, let Ovi be Ovi, Oatsy will save us. Whoopde ****ing doo.

Hunter didn't have the time to (or maybe wasn't capable of) teaching them the same thoughtless offense, but it is possible to do so. Darryl Sutter did it and coached his team to the most dominant playoff run in recent if not all history. DeBoer did it and managed to get to the SCF with a plebeian defense and a 40 year old goalie who wasn't as great as everyone is fond of saying now. This is a tried and tested formula that works pretty much always. Who ever can perform the most complex actions while exerting the least amount of thought wins. Talents like speed, physicality, hockey IQ, good wrist shot, all let players do some things with much less thought than others. I'm pretty sure EA sports found a way to quantify all of it pretty accurately and that is why all their predictions are so accurate. If I was a crazy bearded man I'd work out the formula myself. Watch Devils-Flyers and Devils-Rangers again. Devils are on a completely another level offensively, even though the personnel for both was largely comparable. Both Rangers and Flyers put a lot more thought into their plays and as a result were much slower to react. Devils' forwards had about as much going through their minds as great whites do and as a result were just as lethal. Gionta-Carter-Bernier just derping away to great success, chipping away at the Rangers bit by bit. 3 AHLers bringing down the Richardss and Gaboriks of the world to their knees because they managed to run around and be at the right place at the right time simply because that's what their collective game added up to.

I'd suggest everyone to rewatch the final SCF game from last year as well. When the Kings have already put the game away, they are absolutely clinical in everything they do. There is no hesitation at any point. Not on defense, not on breakouts, not on clearing the zone, not on forecheck. Watch the last 5 minutes of that series. It's beautiful.
I really loved this post, and it put me in mind of several points Jim Bouton makes about athletic approach in his epic "Ball Four."

Bouton points out that, over the course of a player's career, he/she will usually have 30-40 different coaches. If he listened to all of them, he would amount to nothing more than a confused player.

If the reader has never read Ball Four, get a copy, and enjoy. It's entertaining and educational.

Not butterin yer bread, but it seems like someone who stands out as you do would have surfaced before this. You could PM me, if you are someone I know, but wish to keep your real id secret. Great post guy!


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01-15-2013, 09:22 AM
  #138
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Who ever can perform the most complex actions while exerting the least amount of thought wins....
Acknowledging a very interesting post.

What is inside a players brain is rarely discussed yet is at the root of what players do. What is in their minds, is largely controlled by the coach. They are as much shrinks as X's and O's tacticians.

I often said, Alzner has faced RWs storming at him a million times. He is not thinking, he is going on instinct. To steal a line from Top Gun, if you think, you are dead.

You hit the nail on the head, teams attacking our sit back D, were expending massive mental and physical effort. One mistake, we counter, and score a goal. They can't believe it, fans are stunned. We out shot them 45-15! It's what happened to us versus Montreal. And happened many times in our Caps playoffs series long past.

Now we know why Hunter didnt talk to players, He felt he could only get inside their heads. They all knew how to play hockey, and if they needed him to tell them how to play, he felt whatver he said to them could only make them play worse.

Thoughtless offense may be aided now that Ovi and Nick can play catch on their forehands as they skate directly at the goal. Neither seem naturals using their backhands attacking the goal. Few do.

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01-15-2013, 09:41 AM
  #139
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You point to devils offense as glaring example of smart hockey players. Those same smart hockey players were bad enough to let them win the draft lottery the year before, did the same players all of sudden learn how to slow the game down and play thoughtless hockey to go from draft lottery to finals?

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01-15-2013, 09:49 AM
  #140
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You point to devils offense as glaring example of smart hockey players. Those same smart hockey players were bad enough to let them win the draft lottery the year before, did the same players all of sudden learn how to slow the game down and play thoughtless hockey to go from draft lottery to finals?
OW,

Only the mediocre are always at their best.

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01-15-2013, 09:55 AM
  #141
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Without knowing what the devils coaches said to players during those 2 years, we are left to guess what happened, what was in the players minds. But I am glad that Oates was in the middle of the turnaround.

I believe Bruce sold thoughtless hockey when he came on board. Just do what you think is the right play, don't second guess yourself. And the team changed overnight, yet had the exact same people on the ice as the game before. It wasn't a great new offensive or defensive system installed, a ringer brought on.

It was all mental.

All those guys knew how to play hockey and couldn't forget if they wanted to.

He just took out the thinking. While it didn't lead to a cup, it led to an instant turnaround of a cellar dweller team.

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01-15-2013, 09:57 AM
  #142
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Investing 600 K in Eric Fehr for one year

or

Investing 3 million a year in Joel Ward for three more years


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01-15-2013, 10:14 AM
  #143
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Without knowing what the devils coaches said to players during those 2 years, we are left to guess what happened, what was in the players minds. But I am glad that Oates was in the middle of the turnaround.

I believe Bruce sold thoughtless hockey when he came on board. Just do what you think is the right play, don't second guess yourself. And the team changed overnight, yet had the exact same people on the ice as the game before. It wasn't a great new offensive or defensive system installed, a ringer brought on.

It was all mental.

All those guys knew how to play hockey and couldn't forget if they wanted to.

He just took out the thinking. While it didn't lead to a cup, it led to an instant turnaround of a cellar dweller team.
RH,

I'd think there would be some discussion... but one devoted to philosophy, rather than an x's and o's chalkboard meeting... and/with follow-up meetings tending to follow that trend.

I know you understand what I'm saying, but for newbies, an example might be to approach a problem with a Dman getting or staying back when his partner rushes the puck into the other team's zone by using a 1 word statement on the chalkboard for all to see:

RESPONSIBILITY!

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01-15-2013, 12:02 PM
  #144
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Like most, if it's a choice between Fehr and nobody, Fehr wins.

But he wasn't the only option available.
Who could they have brought in now that you wouldn't have felt the same way about?

The only reason Fehr is being given a chance is because he proved himself healthy and played well in Finland during the lockout. If that doesn't happen they don't bring in anyone.

This was a 'what the hell lets give him a chance' move made now. This isn't about who they could have added in the summer because they were clearly fine with the team they would have gone into camp with in September.

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01-15-2013, 12:06 PM
  #145
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Originally Posted by Halpysback View Post
Under Boudreau we'd often see players defeated by their own brains. Green or Semin holding the puck on the PP for 45 seconds waiting for lanes to open up come to mind. Green lobbing the puck god knows where under zero pressure waiting for the perfect breakout (already mentioned above). Boudreau yelling at them which served only to confuse them further. I get the feeling we'll see lots of it again this year. After what we got used to last year on defense it will be especially painful.
On the one hand you extol NJ's sytem, on the other you seem to equate Oates with Boudreau. The new system is supposed to be essentially what NJ ran. I guess what you're saying is that this group of forwards+Green are dumb and anything up-tempo will eventually be a hot mess under increasing scrutiny? In which case they have to play in a very simple system to mask their deficiencies but I think there is some developmental hope. There kind of has to be in absence of core trades.

Boudreau's flaw wasn't so much the tempo he preached as him being more of a confidence man than a perfectionist. He's passionate to be sure but he believed in confidence a bit too much and it allowed for comfort zones to be established and bad habits to creep in. By then it was over for him, it was just a matter of when. With Hunter it seemed he was all system but no interaction for further refinement. Both scream out for more of a hands-on developmental mindset.

The big hurdle is getting this team away from trying to do too much individually and to rely on one another more. That's in part due to a lack of structure, support and balance but it's been a recurring issue. Shifting that mentality into one that focuses on playing more as a team at both ends should position them to thrive under harsher scrutiny. Chemistry is just as important as disciplined team defense, as-is an approach that clearly defines and helps refine situational awareness. It seems the outlines of such an approach may be in place but we'll see.

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01-15-2013, 12:10 PM
  #146
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Personally I don't see why there's so much *****ing about a depth signing, considering Hershey has none whatsoever.

But fehr gets in the way of some agendas on here so the *****ing commences I guess

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01-15-2013, 12:16 PM
  #147
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Originally Posted by Ovechkins Wodka View Post
You point to devils offense as glaring example of smart hockey players. Those same smart hockey players were bad enough to let them win the draft lottery the year before, did the same players all of sudden learn how to slow the game down and play thoughtless hockey to go from draft lottery to finals?
That's the thing you're missing. Almost anyone can learn thoughtless hockey. We did it last year. It's the one thing where coaching can have a huge impact.

If you watched them the year before, you'd see that they were overthinking everything heavily. MacLean being completely clueless didn't help (as was the case here when Boudreau would just start yelling at people). Kovalchuk looked like he was doing differential equations every time he had the puck and was trying to set up an offensive play, culminating with that shootout where he just flat out lost the puck because he was too busy contemplating life/how the hell he got into that mess. When Martin came in they relaxed, went back to instinct and had a dominant second half. You don't even need to compare them to the Devils of 2011-2012, just the first and second half of the 2010-2011 season.

Elias is a very 'smart' hockey player. Henrique and Zajac are as well. What this means is they can make slick plays quickly, effortlessly and most importantly reliably, and move on to the next play without a hitch. Kovalchuk isn't as smart, but because he may have the best physical abilities of any hockey player in the world he can perform some very complex and rewarding actions mindlessly if they are drilled into him, much like Malkin, whose hockey IQ isn't that high either. If you look at the Devils last playoffs, they always knew where to go and were never hesitant on their skates. Like we were on defense, but they extended that to offense as well.

Putting together the right kind of players helps a ton since the more they compliment each other/process the game the same way, the less they have to think to account for each other. Hartnell-Briere-Leino seemed like a totally misfit line for instance (Hartnell has the hockey IQ of a peanut, no one knows how to play defense) yet it was the best line of the 2010 playoffs by far since they were all completely on the same page and didn't need to put thought into anything. All their glaring individual flaws did not matter.

In fact, this is why Tippett and Maloney have so much success turning crap into gold in Phoenix. I'd say they're the one tandem that truly figured it out, probably from being backed into a corner and forced to play moneyball. Everyone is completely on the same page, and as a result Boyd Gordon becomes an elite 3C and Radim Vrbata becomes one of the best snipers in the league. LA too, as they're basically Phoenix with proper resources.

Speaking of Vrbata, remember Tampa's ruthless bit brilliant rebuild? Vrbata and Jussi Jokinen seemed destined for minors after that year, and if you watched them play for Tampa they overthought everything and as a result doubted everything they did. Then they were put on teams where they were on the same page as their linemates to the point where they could completely work on their instincts and flourished as a result. Ever wonder why Ovechkin is automatic on the breakaway but sucks in the shootout? In one case he thinks, in one case he fully defers to his world class skills without any hesitation.

This is also why I think Luke Schenn will have a monster year. No other player in the league had as much going through his head as he did on defense for the leafs. If Laviolette puts him with linemates he can trust in a system that's proven to work, he won't be forced to overthink and feel like he needs to make exceptional decisions to compensate for everyone else, and will just do his thing mindlessly. He was a totally mindless beast in his rookie year when people thought he was going to be the next Stevens.

It's also why I wanted Kostitsyn more than most. People rip on his lack of hockey IQ, but he's a great player when he's left to mindlessly do his own thing. Put him on a line where his mindlessness is complimented and you have a greater line than the sum of its parts. In fact he's the prototypical Devils 2012 playoff run 2nd/3rd line winger. If we used him right it would have paid enormous dividends.

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01-15-2013, 12:47 PM
  #148
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Originally Posted by Langway View Post
On the one hand you extol NJ's sytem, on the other you seem to equate Oates with Boudreau. The new system is supposed to be essentially what NJ ran. I guess what you're saying is that this group of forwards+Green are dumb and anything up-tempo will eventually be a hot mess under increasing scrutiny? In which case they have to play in a very simple system to mask their deficiencies but I think there is some developmental hope. There kind of has to be in absence of core trades.

Boudreau's flaw wasn't so much the tempo he preached as him being more of a confidence man than a perfectionist. He's passionate to be sure but he believed in confidence a bit too much and it allowed for comfort zones to be established and bad habits to creep in. By then it was over for him, it was just a matter of when. With Hunter it seemed he was all system but no interaction for further refinement. Both scream out for more of a hands-on developmental mindset.

The big hurdle is getting this team away from trying to do too much individually and to rely on one another more. That's in part due to a lack of structure, support and balance but it's been a recurring issue. Shifting that mentality into one that focuses on playing more as a team at both ends should position them to thrive under harsher scrutiny. Chemistry is just as important as disciplined team defense, as-is an approach that clearly defines and helps refine situational awareness. It seems the outlines of such an approach may be in place but we'll see.
From what I've seen, Devils fans seem to attribute the system to DeBoer and most are happy that Oates is gone. He may have been a critical part and may carry it over but that is not the impression I get.

I used to be a fanatical starcraft player to the point where some of my friends wanted me to go pro (before I realized what a huge waste of time it was). But it taught me a lot about exploiting systems and largely shaped my worldview in that regard. At the higher levels you can very reliably rank personal skill by actions per minute. I played games with APM of around 170-200 which to my intermediate friends seemed like I was cheating. Whenever I'd go up against people capable of 250-300 I'd be completely owned. It was effectively over after the first 90 seconds, after that I was just going through the motions. You really think those people have 300 coherent thoughts per second? No, it's all reflex, only time they think is to decide what batch of reflexes to defer to if they are geniunely stumped. Every scenario has been played through so many times that it's second nature.

Lack of hockey IQ isn't a show stopper. Bernier, Clarkson and Ponikarovsky have the collective hockey IQ of a peanut, yet they did quite well.

My problem with Green is he's a thinker by nature. He may have the offensive tools in the world at his position but he will always give up that one second he needs to commit to something. Yeah, when he commits to going coast to coast and leaves all thought behind after that there's no stopping him, but watching him decide on doing that over something else is painful. Hunter managed to largely suppress it but you could still see it from time to time. One indecisive player infects the whole group, who suddenly start pondering that they too are mortal men. It's like an infectious cough. This is why groups of mindless but earnest grinders work so much better than people expect them to. Ultimately, I think if we trade Green for a Burns type return and let Orlov fill his role (much less of a thinker), there may be short term pain but long term we will be a better team.

"Chemistry" is people jointly performing actions that require n thought processes with x thought processes, where x < n. The bigger the n/x ratio is, the more chemistry you have. This is why Sykora looked great with Elias but would have been an absolute aberration here. He did his thing, Elias did his thing, but their respective things put them in positions to feed off of each other.

I feel like the way our roster is currently put together there are significant playing style conflicts that will lead players to overthink things. And we lack determined physical players, who are extremely important because they perform the most counter-intuitive act in the sport (putting themselves into a position to get hurt, be it by initiating hits, receiving hits, working the net. Also being willing to hurt other players) without the natural mental resistance normal players have to fight through to do it.

I'm also of the opinion that Hunter is capable of coaching an offensive game, it's just that given the circumstances he decided that it wasn't the right time for it. His approach seemed to be to incrementally take small but important parts of the game and make them second nature to the players. Defense is the most logical place to start, since it is through defense that you establish control of the puck and subsequently the play. If you're defensively outclassed and see opposing players free wheeling around your zone and there's nothing you can do your confidence takes a massive hit. You start thinking and then it's over. We saw it in game 7 against the pens and throughout the whole Tampa series.


Last edited by Halpysback: 01-15-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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01-15-2013, 12:48 PM
  #149
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Originally Posted by Millhaus View Post
Who could they have brought in now that you wouldn't have felt the same way about?

The only reason Fehr is being given a chance is because he proved himself healthy and played well in Finland during the lockout. If that doesn't happen they don't bring in anyone.

This was a 'what the hell lets give him a chance' move made now. This isn't about who they could have added in the summer because they were clearly fine with the team they would have gone into camp with in September.
If there's no one else, I'm fine with Fehr. But there's often players available after and during training camp.

And as I said, I don't think this is about Fehr, it's about George, and we've heard this song too many times before.

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01-15-2013, 01:08 PM
  #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langway View Post
On the one hand you extol NJ's sytem, on the other you seem to equate Oates with Boudreau. The new system is supposed to be essentially what NJ ran. I guess what you're saying is that this group of forwards+Green are dumb and anything up-tempo will eventually be a hot mess under increasing scrutiny? In which case they have to play in a very simple system to mask their deficiencies but I think there is some developmental hope. There kind of has to be in absence of core trades.

Boudreau's flaw wasn't so much the tempo he preached as him being more of a confidence man than a perfectionist. He's passionate to be sure but he believed in confidence a bit too much and it allowed for comfort zones to be established and bad habits to creep in. By then it was over for him, it was just a matter of when. With Hunter it seemed he was all system but no interaction for further refinement. Both scream out for more of a hands-on developmental mindset.

The big hurdle is getting this team away from trying to do too much individually and to rely on one another more. That's in part due to a lack of structure, support and balance but it's been a recurring issue. Shifting that mentality into one that focuses on playing more as a team at both ends should position them to thrive under harsher scrutiny. Chemistry is just as important as disciplined team defense, as-is an approach that clearly defines and helps refine situational awareness. It seems the outlines of such an approach may be in place but we'll see.
Not what I saw.... I saw a league that figured out that shutting down AO would negate our game, and it worked. AO may have scored some points, but there was a long stretch I recall, where he didn't. Id suspect that no matter who coaches us, that'll still be the tack taken.

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