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The Same Continual Ruff "System" Problems

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Old
12-25-2011, 01:40 PM
  #101
moltenlava26
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littleton/Struck...awesome posts filled with a ton of great info...thank you both!

IMO, the tactics that Ruff employs do not fit the size/skill makeup of this team. Pairing 2 offensive defensemen where both are allowed to pinch exposes the defensive flaws of this team. Ruff needs larger, more phsyical players to allow his D-men to pinch without fear of creating the odd man rush. During this losing streak, forwards are misfiring on shots causing them to get trapped deeper in the zone resulting in odd man situations when the D pinches but can not contain the puck.

I don't mind the D transitioning to a more aggressive offensive mindset but the group of forwards the Sabres have are not consistent in their defensive approach. They always seem to be two steps behind on back door coverage, or give half hearted efforts when on the back check.

The passive perimeter offensive zone play really bothers me. Most teams don't care how long you possess the puck as long as you stay on the outside. It almost seems that other teams wait for the Sabres to pass it to a smaller player then attack him with a forward and a Dman. This results in the other forwards coming to help with a weak side Dman waiting for the puck on the opposite side. 95% of the time, the Sabres player does not come away with that puck.

I would love to see Ruff win a Cup in B-lo, I just think his style and message have become stale.

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12-25-2011, 02:02 PM
  #102
Dubi Doo
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What happened to the 09-10 system. I remember that team was amazing at defending leads. Perhaps its the personel(sp?)

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12-25-2011, 03:41 PM
  #103
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Originally Posted by Dubi Doo View Post
What happened to the 09-10 system. I remember that team was amazing at defending leads. Perhaps its the personel(sp?)
Personnel .

And I remember two distinct phases of the team that year. Early in the year, they had a really structured forecheck, focused on the bottom six of Hecht-Kennedy-Grier/Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta and it was those lines that played the lions' share of ES time. They also maintained this forecheck throughout the game, even when closing out games. I remember in a lot of the early wins, the d was still pinching to continue the cycle late, and they trapped a lot of teams in their own end in the final two minutes.

Unfortunately, injuries broke up the bottom six, and Hecht got promoted to playing with Connolly and Pominville. Gaustad struggled as the third line pivot and the fourth line was a black hole. Hecht-Connolly-Pominville was most of their offense during this period, with Vanek picking things up immediately before the playoffs, and the system became a little more open and a little more lax defensively. They collapsed more with the lead rather than forechecking to close games out, and relied on Miller to bail them out rather than making his workload easier through puck possession. That season, he was up to the task.

Also, I'm not even in the same universe as littleton in terms of Xs and Os, he's been putting my observations in "real" coaching terms our whole conversation

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Old
12-25-2011, 08:11 PM
  #104
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Originally Posted by Myllz View Post
Could be either one. It could be Regier just doesn't draft players with high ceilings, or it could be Ruff doesn't develop players as well as they could be to hit their ceilings. Who knows, maybe Vanek is a 50+ goal scorer playing under someone else. Then again, maybe he's only a 25 goal scorer elsewhere.

My money is on a combination of the two.
How many players have moved on elsewhere and seen a sizable jump in production that wasn't just a product of getting the chance to ride a stud's coattails?

MacArthur last year with the Leafs is about the only name I can come up with.

Look at Afinogenov after he left Buffalo.

Or Satan.

I doubt that Ruff is holding guys back.

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12-25-2011, 08:13 PM
  #105
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Originally Posted by MillerFan1 View Post
From day 1 it was pretty obvious that Vanek and Miller were going to have good NHL careers.

Why? A coach's job is to coach up players and make them better. A GMs job is to find good players. No doubt Darcy has brought some good players in here... its Lindys job to make better and to make marginal players good.
And when the GM spends to the cap and the roster has more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese, I tend to look at what the GM has done more than what the coach has.

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12-25-2011, 11:32 PM
  #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moltenlava26 View Post
littleton/Struck...awesome posts filled with a ton of great info...thank you both!..
Great. Let's keep this thread going then.........

Quote:
Originally Posted by moltenlava26 View Post
IMO, the tactics that Ruff employs do not fit the size/skill makeup of this team. Pairing 2 offensive defensemen where both are allowed to pinch exposes the defensive flaws of this team. Ruff needs larger, more phsyical players to allow his D-men to pinch without fear of creating the odd man rush. During this losing streak, forwards are misfiring on shots causing them to get trapped deeper in the zone resulting in odd man situations when the D pinches but can not contain the puck..
That's the conclusion that I and Struck have come to as well. We are calling for Ruff to make an adjustment similar to what he did last year at this time.

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Originally Posted by moltenlava26 View Post
I don't mind the D transitioning to a more aggressive offensive mindset but the group of forwards the Sabres have are not consistent in their defensive approach. They always seem to be two steps behind on back door coverage, or give half hearted efforts when on the back check..
We agree. Some games they'll have it and backcheck or cover like maniacs. Other games, they will play it totally lackadasical. (Folks on HF Boards will point out say Roy really skating his butt off on the backcheck and be complimentary. Vanek to his credit, has turned his game around completely in this area.) Either we have poor read and react skills or we have a lot of lazy players. Either way, their ineptness (or unwillingness to) to anticipate is attrocious.

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Originally Posted by moltenlava26 View Post
The passive perimeter offensive zone play really bothers me. Most teams don't care how long you possess the puck as long as you stay on the outside. It almost seems that other teams wait for the Sabres to pass it to a smaller player then attack him with a forward and a Dman. This results in the other forwards coming to help with a weak side Dman waiting for the puck on the opposite side. 95% of the time, the Sabres player does not come away with that puck..
Lots of time you'll see the opposition simply overload (outnumber) the Sabres along the boards or in the corners knowing that the Sabres won't support the puck carrier or cycler along the boards. I've seen teams like Detroit put 3 of their 4 penalty carriers on a lone Sabre trying to get control along the boards on a PP. The maxim is "in your face, take away time and space". And it works! (Teams are smart about this. The secret is to "collapse" on the Sabre when the puck is either in play or control has been barely established. This works because teh Sabres fwds do not work to outnumber the opposition in the attack zone.)


I would love to see Ruff win a Cup in B-lo, I just think his style and message have become stale.[/QUOTE]

Me too.

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12-25-2011, 11:41 PM
  #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by struckbyaparkedcar View Post
Personnel .

And I remember two distinct phases of the team that year. Early in the year, they had a really structured forecheck, focused on the bottom six of Hecht-Kennedy-Grier/Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta and it was those lines that played the lions' share of ES time. They also maintained this forecheck throughout the game, even when closing out games. I remember in a lot of the early wins, the d was still pinching to continue the cycle late, and they trapped a lot of teams in their own end in the final two minutes.
This is the way you win hockey games. The forecheck never stops!

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Originally Posted by struckbyaparkedcar View Post
Unfortunately, injuries broke up the bottom six, and Hecht got promoted to playing with Connolly and Pominville. Gaustad struggled as the third line pivot and the fourth line was a black hole. Hecht-Connolly-Pominville was most of their offense during this period, with Vanek picking things up immediately before the playoffs, and the system became a little more open and a little more lax defensively. They collapsed more with the lead rather than forechecking to close games out, and relied on Miller to bail them out rather than making his workload easier through puck possession. That season, he was up to the task.
I had to bold your Miller sentance. That season he was up to the task and this season he has not been.

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Originally Posted by struckbyaparkedcar View Post
Also, I'm not even in the same universe as littleton in terms of Xs and Os, he's been putting my observations in "real" coaching terms our whole conversation
Thanks but I'm just a student of the game like you all and learning something new from you guys everyday.....

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Old
12-26-2011, 12:27 AM
  #108
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Originally Posted by Sabresfansince1980 View Post
Littleton and Struck...this is my kind of hockey talk. I don't have the background you guys have in hockey so this is new stuff that I want to learn about. I'm an Xs and Os nerd in football and baseball, but wish to know more detailed stuff about what's good/bad about the Sabres (since I watch almost every game).

I have to watch on Center Ice, and can't go to games since I moved away long ago. I wonder why some aspects of their game are so poor, but don't have the knowledge to form a solid opinion. Things like...their d-corps the last few seasons are/were such easy prey to an aggressive forechecking team, d-men so prone to TOs on the breakout, such little creativity from the forwards (possibly from getting so few odd-man chances), semi-bad passing on a regular basis.

In your better opinions, are there certain players that stand out as being less able or less willing to fill their assigned responsibilities? Is it more a matter of size/skill/talent or is there enough unfulfilled potential with some players to warrant trades or a critique of Lindy's ability to get the most out of them?

I've HATED the extent that Ruff changes up forward lines and D-pairs. Injuries have required it lately, but it maddens me to no end how much he juggles lines otherwise. I don't understand how Gragnani has played so much over Weber, or why their PP seems to stale/slow/predictable with perimeter passing and low % point shots that don't get through. I know things will get better IF the roster can get healthy, but aside from that what are your takes on the issues I mentioned? Thanks!
Sorry for the delay getting back to you. I'll claim Xmas and family as my excuse.

Seriously, get Red's book as I mentioned in my 1st post on this thread. It will give you a framework to categorize the situations that are happening on the ice. Which is akin to knowing what defense and offensive formations each team is presenting on a play in football. Then you'll know who is supposed to be where or on who in response to the movements.

As far as some of your points go..... I'd say you are pretty darn perceptive. But I can maybe offer a teaching moment about D-corp sensitivity to forechecking pressure. Namely that no team or player is EXCEMPT from what you've noticed happening to the Sabres D. No matter how good any D is, if you have the wheels to close the gap quickly, take the proper angle to the play (a Sabre fwd deficiency), center your body on the puck (for blocks) and be physical, the D man will succumb to that pressure. I don't care if it is Lidstrom or Chara or Pronger, etc.. They will cough up the puck.

But give them time and space, as Ruff's current 1 -2 - 2 passive forecheck does, and they will make you pay.

Watch Kassian. He does all of the above as well as anyone. I am very impressed with his aggressiveness. He channels it skillfully versus some other Sabre fwds who usually come up empty handed.

Ruff changes his pairings and line way too much for my liking. I think it hurts player chemistry and familiarity. It's part of his interchangable parts approach (i.e.; his "system") that I simply don't buy because the players he has are not interchangable. And as we have seen, those who don't conform, end up gone.

Ruff's PP is based on big guns from the point and quick reaction by the fwds to rebounds. Except the fwds don't get there.

Another miscue is watching the Sabres poorly position their fwds on the PP so that their forehand shot is usually in the outside lane versus the middle lane. Say you are a left hand shot. If you are at the left dot in the offensive zone and you get a cross ice pass, what's your angle to the net? Sharp or oblique? Now suppose you are on the right dot as a lefty? Yeah, I'll take that alignment anytime cause I want to shoot straight on thru the slot area cause the goalie has more net to cover than if he is out on angle.

So many shots the Sabres take are so stoppable because they come from the outside off their forehand. And few use their backhands to any degree.

Honestly, I can't fathom why he stuck with GAGS so long except he's a stubborn man. It clearly wasn't working.

Finally, I appreciate the interest in this kind of hockey talk. I'm learning like everyone else and frankly some of my knowledge has gotten a little stale the last couple of years mainly because I'm not actively coaching right now.

I don't know where you are located, whether you know how to skate and if there are any youth programs around. But watching practices (Bantam and above) and maybe volunteering in some way at the younger age level is a great way to learn more about the game.

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12-26-2011, 11:59 AM
  #109
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Someone mentioned Sabres taking bad angles to the net and not cashing rebounds. I've noticed that many juicy rebounds fly right past our net-crashers or end up in their skates. They're handcuffed. Or they get the rebound but are in too tight and can't lift the puck.

Is there any coaching philosophy that espouses not "crashing the net and getting ugly goals" but rather trying to get to a spot a few feet above the crease and waiting for those rebounds?

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12-28-2011, 12:27 PM
  #110
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Originally Posted by fightclubber25 View Post
i agree with the original post. this system is a problem.. the problem is, most people dont understand "systems" or how coaches teach/use them. the average onlooker just sees hockey going on and assumes its all the same.. but at the NHL level, coaching strategy plays a bigger role than you think.

every player out there knows where he has to be at any given time. a few players choose to ignore it, which is why some fans get frustrated with them because it looks like theyre out of position. they are. ruffs system is much like the original poster described. they play a lot of zone coverage in all areas of the ice. which basically means stand in a certain place and force the other team to "go where you want them to" .. problem is, other teams/coaches arent stupid, and most other teams know how to break down this sort of coverage. it works great with situations like penalty killing.. which is why we generally do well in that area, but in terms of a good transition game/earning turnovers instead of making them, we come up short. our players constantly have D on the mind, standing still swinging sticks, hooking, hacking. its a problem.. the forwards have no freedom to create plays in the transition because theyre all glued to ruffs "zones".

look for this: when we are defending and earn possession of the puck we will typically have one or two options. a cross ice pass from wing to wing, or a up the middle pass from the D to a forward. all 3 forwards are the same distance up the ice, not staggard, which allows for no give/go type of play. cant create odd man rushes, one pass out of the zone, a dump in or a turn over typically occurs.. then if we dont recover (we rarely do) then its just coming back at us and back to the drawing board. youll see our D back up into our own zone, trying to push the winger to the outside, which works, but it allows the other 4 opposing players on the ice set up position in our zone with ease while one of our D is chasing the puck carrier down the boards. hence, why is always looks like theyre on a power play. as soon as they enter our zone, our guys skate to their zones and stand still - meanwhile the opposing team is sending waves of forecheck to recover the puck.

what ends up happening is it looking like our guys are standing around and the other team is flying around them out there - because they are. ruff will never change his tune as long as he is here, because management, the media, and many fans have been enablers by defending him for so long. so get used to it. id be willing to bet that if a new coach came in, revamped how this team attacks and defends, used a little more man to man D zone coverage, our good players would finally start looking like good players.

its ugly.. and out of the lockout, when most coaches werent ready to adapt, it worked. now, for some reason it seems like every team is more than capable of picking our strategy apart. and yes, most of it comes from physicality.. put a little pressure on one of our guys theyve got a turnover. then our team scrambles to get into D position instead of battling to get the puck back. its submissive, unaggressive, slow and ineffective. our team is better than theyre playing and i think a lot has to do with the coaching strategy.


just my two cents.. im not pro coach, but this is what ive been feeling for years. sorry for the rannnnnttt
Couldn't have said it better, this strat used to work when 2 line passing rule was in effect but it is most certainly time for a change either in coach or a tune up of ruffs strategy. I'm not completely opposed to the d-zone strat; my largest concern has been the lack of forechecking. Adam and kassian have by far been the best at it so far this year and I'd hate to see them corrupted by ruffs schemes.

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12-29-2011, 06:35 PM
  #111
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IMO the problem is we have too many players who play stupid a vast majority of the time, and ones in key spots.

Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, and Marc-Andre Gragnani play like absolute idiots often negating whatever skill they may possess.

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12-29-2011, 07:17 PM
  #112
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Originally Posted by Jim Bob View Post
And when the GM spends to the cap and the roster has more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese, I tend to look at what the GM has done more than what the coach has.
You see a team that is, for the most part, atrocious defensively..correct?

Then you look at that defense on paper and you see names like Myers, Regehr, and Ehrhoff. Does any team in the league have a more impressive top 3? Then you have some combination of Sekera, Weber, Leopold, McNabb and Gragnani filling out the rest.

As far as the defense is concerned, the GM is the problem? What am I missing?

The GM is a problem to me for two reasons. One, he will never fire his head coach no matter what. Two, his lack of quality centermen.

He's stacked the roster to the brim on both wings and defensively, however. Having a former 40 goal scorer on the 4th line to start the season (Boyes) screams of crazy depth. The coach takes the cake for me. He's the root of the problem. But the GM can go as well, as he'll never fire his coach.


Last edited by ShaPow: 12-29-2011 at 07:23 PM.
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12-29-2011, 07:25 PM
  #113
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Originally Posted by CriminallyVu1gar View Post
IMO the problem is we have too many players who play stupid a vast majority of the time, and ones in key spots.

Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, and Marc-Andre Gragnani play like absolute idiots often negating whatever skill they may possess.
When players play stupid more often than not, is it their fault or the coach? They can't all be morons.

Also, two of the players you listed are two of the players that the coach leans the most heavily on. He must not think they're very stupid...

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12-29-2011, 07:25 PM
  #114
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Originally Posted by ShaPow View Post


He's stacked the roster to the brim on both wings and defensively, however. Having a former 40 goal scorer on the 4th line to start the season (Boyes) screams of crazy depth. The coach takes the cake for me. He's the root of the problem. But the GM can go as well, as he'll never fire his coach.
This is horribly, misleadingly false. Boyes is not a 40g scorer, and he started on the fourth line because he isn't good at even strength anymore. We are the antithesis of "deep" offensively.

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12-29-2011, 07:27 PM
  #115
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This is horribly, misleadingly false. Boyes is not a 40g scorer, and he started on the fourth line because he isn't good at even strength anymore. We are the antithesis of "deep" offensively.
I didn't call Boyes a 40 goal scorer. I called him a former 40 goal scorer.

Talk about misleadingly false.

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12-29-2011, 08:39 PM
  #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaPow View Post
You see a team that is, for the most part, atrocious defensively..correct?

Then you look at that defense on paper and you see names like Myers, Regehr, and Ehrhoff. Does any team in the league have a more impressive top 3? Then you have some combination of Sekera, Weber, Leopold, McNabb and Gragnani filling out the rest.

As far as the defense is concerned, the GM is the problem? What am I missing?

The GM is a problem to me for two reasons. One, he will never fire his head coach no matter what. Two, his lack of quality centermen.

He's stacked the roster to the brim on both wings and defensively, however. Having a former 40 goal scorer on the 4th line to start the season (Boyes) screams of crazy depth. The coach takes the cake for me. He's the root of the problem. But the GM can go as well, as he'll never fire his coach.
As a witness of last night's game, it's the coach's fault. I was right behind their bench and faces were grim and upset. Ruff doesn't have the type of players to do what he did 10 years, 5 years ago. The defense last night was sluggish and soft. Vanek's line was barely there besides Vanek's goal. The Luke Adam line was okay, minus the botched goal and 1 or 2 scoring chances. But there are barely any centers. The bottom line is that there needs to be a change in strategy and more worthy centers.(GM's doing) The GM hasn't been very useful either. I follow the Buffalo Sabres quite close (2nd team, and moving to Buffalo in T-minus 30 days) and Regier needs to do something or pack up and get out. Again, coach needs to re-strategize the defense and the GM needs to learn to control damage a bit better. Yes Pegula has a butt load of money but that doesn't mean throw it away so quickly.

EDIT: another thing; Ryan Miller can't be a brick wall 82 games a year. Another reason to re-strategize. I'm not bashing Buffalo since I like them, but I'm upset with what's going on

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12-30-2011, 11:29 AM
  #117
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I'm still wondering what some people are seeing when they look at this roster. I see depth beyond depth at every position save center. Especially on the back end.

LW:
Vanek
Adam (although should be a center)
Ennis
Gerbe
McCormick

RW:
Pominville
Stafford
Boyes
Kaleta
Kassian
Tropp

C:
Hecht
Roy
Leino
Gaustad
Ellis
Szczechura

D:
Myers
Regehr
Ehrhoff
Leopold
Sekera
Weber
Gragnani
McNabb

G:
Miller
Enroth

What am I missing? This collection of players equals a .500 hockey club and a poor GM?

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