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Beer League Strategy Thread

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01-23-2013, 05:29 PM
  #1
Splitbtw
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Beer League Strategy Thread

I figured there could be a thread to talk shop about strategy for beer league teams. This can be a place to bounce ideas off one another and get different perspectives.

The current issues facing my team is a lack of scoring and the revolving door that is our defense. We have had the same 3 guys for the most part, but each season something happens to that 4th defenseman. The last couple of seasons, I have moved back to help wit the issue, but attendance problems have led to needing to pull back another forward here and there to play defense and just deal with it. This usually ends up being one of our better players and our offense takes a hit. This season, we decided to switch myself with another forward that consistently shows up in an effort to kick start the offense. We had the fewest GA the last couple of seasons, so we figured goals against is not an issue. Our goalie also happens to be one of our better players. So far through one game, it seemed to have worked as we were a much different looking team and beat a rival we haven't beat in some time. We are losing a defenseman to deployment, but get back another we lost this past season. We also are actively looking for new talent that can play D, but is easier said than done.

In order to help the offense, we stopped trying to disperse talent throughout all the lines and attempted to just put the skilled guys with the most chemistry from pickups together. That line ended up having half of our goals this last game. We will probably look to do this again and then stack talent as much as possible. Expect the better lines to score goals and hope for the best with the other line.


How do you guys handle positional needs and lines and what not?

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01-24-2013, 09:24 AM
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tarheelhockey
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Originally Posted by Splitbtw View Post
How do you guys handle positional needs and lines and what not?
My team has a lot of the same issues -- we can count on 3 defensemen, but getting that 4th guy is tough and we're usually just short of two forward lines. I'm usually the first guy in line to move back to defense if we're desperate, but I honestly kind of suck at it so it's not a good sign if we're in that position at the start of a game.

Basically it's a matter of finding guys who are going to show up every game and are committed to playing their positions. Once you have 10 reliable players (6F, 4D) things get a whole lot easier. It took us a couple of seasons to get that far and then took a step backward when guys moved on.

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01-24-2013, 10:17 AM
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Jarick
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I hear you loud and clear.

My philosophy is this: spread out your talent on defense and stack your talent on offense.

On defense, try and mix guys with puck skills (good hands and passing) with weaker guys. Otherwise you're trying to ice it the whole time. If you have so many skill guys on D that you can run a stacked pair, DO IT. So much fun as a forward to play with those guys. But usually skill guys like to play up.

Up front, I like lines that play at similar speeds. If you've got a burner and two slow guys, that burner is never going to be on the same page. He'll either be rushing up ice by himself, going offsides, or slow himself down (and completely neutralizing his speed).

Same with skill. If you have a skill guy with two weaker players, the skill guy has to do a lot more work to generate chances, which means fewer chances, which means fewer goals. Yes he might make the two weaker players slightly better, but he would be worse. Yet if you stack the line, all three players make each other a little better without being worse, you get more chances, you get more goals.

Then there's personality and attitude. You can't have clashes on the lines, and that actually drives a lot of lines in beer league. So and so tends to bark at his linemates and one of them hates getting barked at, etc. But a lot of the time if you have good guys on the team and match up speed/skill levels, the 3rd/4th liners are supportive of each other and the skill guys don't get frustrated.

My two cents anyway.

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01-24-2013, 10:51 AM
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lol@beer league line strategy. (also lol@our record because we dont' have much line strategy.)

seriously, though... like what Jarik said... personalities pretty much make up our forward lines. Our D are pretty much spread out to skill level so that we never have our 2 weakest D out at the same time. Unless there's only 3 of us.

On my Park City I'm a forward most of the time but get called back to D quite a bit when we only have 4 and one is in the box.

I'm definitely a fan of stacking at least on forward line. I'm never on that line, though.

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01-24-2013, 12:16 PM
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I've been on both sides of it.

When playing up and on the top line, I do get more chances but more often I'm trying to keep up with them and not screw up and get them the puck. A lot of times I turn it over though. And get bumped down

Playing up and on the bottom lines, I don't get as many scoring chances and I focus more on good shifts, getting the puck out of our end, limit turnovers, get shots on goal when I can, etc. Essentially become a grinder. But usually my linemates and I try to do our jobs and talk each other up on the bench. We know the money guys are out scoring tons of goals.

Playing down and on the top line, obviously I get more chances and create chances and bury a lot more of them. It's a blast of course because every shift (just about) you are getting chances. Ideally at least.

And playing down and on the bottom line, well this I more feel like I need to be the leader out there, play strong defensively and again limit turnovers, try and end shifts in the offensive zone rather than defensive, talk up my linemates, etc. Usually I'm the only one generating scoring chances and sometimes make some for my line but they are fewer and farther between.

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01-24-2013, 12:57 PM
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Up front, I like lines that play at similar speeds. If you've got a burner and two slow guys, that burner is never going to be on the same page. He'll either be rushing up ice by himself, going offsides, or slow himself down (and completely neutralizing his speed).
This is very important. There's nothing worse than being a speedy guy on a line with two pluggers trying to lead the rush up ice completely alone. I appreciate that some people are fast and some people are slow, I don't carry ill will towards you, but it's incredibly difficult to generate any offense when you're leading a 1 on 4 rush with no one to pass to.

The one other piece of advice I would offer. Don't force people to play positions they don't want to play and don't make promises you can't keep. When I started playing I really wanted to play forward, ideally center but I knew that was a lot of responsibility, and I would be happy playing wing. I got placed on defense "temporarily" because "no one else wanted to do it" and I made the best of it. The next session with the same team I asked once again to play forward, they said they'd think about it during our few weeks between sessions. I ended up playing D the entire session.

This pattern has continued throughout most of my hockey career. Most of the time I don't mind playing defense, but it's not what I want to do. It's really frustrating being lied to [whether intentionally or unintentionally] about where I'm going to be playing on a team, or being placed on defense simply because "that's what I've always played." Even more frustrating is watching new guys who can't skate get placed as forwards with our best players while I'm stuck on the backend cleaning up their turnovers and praying they'll help me break the puck out of the zone.

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01-24-2013, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarick View Post

Up front, I like lines that play at similar speeds. If you've got a burner and two slow guys, that burner is never going to be on the same page. He'll either be rushing up ice by himself, going offsides, or slow himself down (and completely neutralizing his speed).
I never looked at it this way. I always thought of it as wanting to spread the speed out so you don't have a line out there that is slower than ****. This is a concept I'll look to try out in our next game.

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01-24-2013, 02:16 PM
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My philosophy is this: spread out your talent on defense and stack your talent on offense.
I agree with this.

For the sake of example, let's say you have two lines with 3 good players and 3 bad players. In this example, I use "good" to mean offensively skilled and "bad" meaning not offensively skilled.

You have two basic choices for how to configure the lines:

Choice #1: 3 good players on one line, 3 bad on the other. In this setup, your first line will generally be able to create a decent amount of offensive zone time/chances. Your second line is generally ok enough defensively to get by even if they spend most of their time in their own zone.

Choice #2: 2 good/1 bad on one line, 1 bad/2 good on the other. In this setup, you haven't really gained much defensively but you've really crippled your offense. Having two good players instead of three makes it much more challenging to produce offense and the lone good player on the second line isn't going to be able to do much of anything by himself.

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01-24-2013, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
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I hear you loud and clear.

My philosophy is this: spread out your talent on defense and stack your talent on offense.

Same with skill. If you have a skill guy with two weaker players, the skill guy has to do a lot more work to generate chances, which means fewer chances, which means fewer goals. Yes he might make the two weaker players slightly better, but he would be worse. Yet if you stack the line, all three players make each other a little better without being worse, you get more chances, you get more goals.
%100, better players should be playing together (forwards). Give and goes, cycling in the offensive zone, etc. can't be executed if there's a weaker link on the line. Matching player skills allow all lines to make plays/execute strategies suitable to their skill level.

It all works out, often the other team will match their better defensive players against the top line & the lower lines will have an easier go.

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01-24-2013, 04:00 PM
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RandV
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Originally Posted by 17of26 View Post
I agree with this.

For the sake of example, let's say you have two lines with 3 good players and 3 bad players. In this example, I use "good" to mean offensively skilled and "bad" meaning not offensively skilled.

You have two basic choices for how to configure the lines:

Choice #1: 3 good players on one line, 3 bad on the other. In this setup, your first line will generally be able to create a decent amount of offensive zone time/chances. Your second line is generally ok enough defensively to get by even if they spend most of their time in their own zone.

Choice #2: 2 good/1 bad on one line, 1 bad/2 good on the other. In this setup, you haven't really gained much defensively but you've really crippled your offense. Having two good players instead of three makes it much more challenging to produce offense and the lone good player on the second line isn't going to be able to do much of anything by himself.
That's true for 6 players, but overall it varies depending on what kind and how many players you have. On my team quite often for the past few years we've had 6 good forwards making up the first two lines and 3 poor forwards making up the third, or 2 poor winger forwards and 1 out of place good winger. By far the best setup was when we were one player short and rolled 2 centers and 3 pairs of wings. If you have poor wingers who are lacking in offensive ability but have good hustle and can crash the net, playing them with a legit offensive center can make a huge difference.

So say you have 5 good and 4 plugs, the best setup is probably:

g-g-g
p-g-p
p-g-p

Or perhaps a better way to put it is always try to make sure you're strong down the middle.

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01-24-2013, 07:10 PM
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The problem we have the most should take care of itself after this season. We have one guy, who is a good guy and whatnot, but he is clearly over his head. He has been with the team since we formed a couple years ago, but while our players and league have gotten better, he has not. So generally he will bog down whatever line he is on and kill anything offensively that doesn't involve standing in front of the net. I believe he will be moving on next season to a lower level, but for the time being it is frustrating as a forward playing on his line and it is incredible frustrating as a defenseman sending breakout passes that he flubs or then sends to the other team.

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01-24-2013, 07:24 PM
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The problem we have the most should take care of itself after this season. We have one guy, who is a good guy and whatnot, but he is clearly over his head. He has been with the team since we formed a couple years ago, but while our players and league have gotten better, he has not. So generally he will bog down whatever line he is on and kill anything offensively that doesn't involve standing in front of the net. I believe he will be moving on next season to a lower level, but for the time being it is frustrating as a forward playing on his line and it is incredible frustrating as a defenseman sending breakout passes that he flubs or then sends to the other team.
Yeah, that's a toughy but at least he has a league lower he can play in. On one of my teams the bottom league is actually better than the next one up due to everyone bringing down ringers and what not. So our guys that we'd love to bump down have no where to go.

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01-25-2013, 10:52 AM
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Sometimes when we were short this summer (my "up" team) we'd alternate two centers and roll three wing pairings. Works pretty well if the C's have the legs and lungs. And since they're skilled, it was fun for us plugs too.

I think you always want to have a C who's good with positioning, can get back on defense, wins draws, plays smart, etc. Your wingers can have legs and hands without brains (that's me!).

I like that look, make yourself stronger in the middle and then stack the top line. If the C's buy in of course. If they're whiny, God help you.

One thing we've done since year one is always rotate three lines, no matter what. We never put our best line out at the end of a game out of turn or double shift them, we don't stack on the PP or PK, we always roll our lines and defensemen. And for the most part nobody complains.

How we do it on the PK is that we'll just have two guys off the next line play, then rotate in the next two sitting on the bench (the third forward and another from the next line), then the next two (to complete the second line), etc. Usually that's close enough to get through two minutes of PK. If it's longer, we just keep shifting down. We don't normally have many shift issues.

Only time we deviate is pulling the goalie for an extra man...I'm the designated extra this year (yay).

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01-25-2013, 11:05 AM
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01-25-2013, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Sometimes when we were short this summer (my "up" team) we'd alternate two centers and roll three wing pairings. Works pretty well if the C's have the legs and lungs. And since they're skilled, it was fun for us plugs too.

I think you always want to have a C who's good with positioning, can get back on defense, wins draws, plays smart, etc. Your wingers can have legs and hands without brains (that's me!).

I like that look, make yourself stronger in the middle and then stack the top line. If the C's buy in of course. If they're whiny, God help you.

One thing we've done since year one is always rotate three lines, no matter what. We never put our best line out at the end of a game out of turn or double shift them, we don't stack on the PP or PK, we always roll our lines and defensemen. And for the most part nobody complains.

How we do it on the PK is that we'll just have two guys off the next line play, then rotate in the next two sitting on the bench (the third forward and another from the next line), then the next two (to complete the second line), etc. Usually that's close enough to get through two minutes of PK. If it's longer, we just keep shifting down. We don't normally have many shift issues.

Only time we deviate is pulling the goalie for an extra man...I'm the designated extra this year (yay).
This is generally what we will do with the exception of playoffs. Lines will roll, but if we need a goal late, and a timeout is called or opportunity to do so, a power line is put out.

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