Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pain, Regret, and Reaction

Therrien's reaction to the loss: "They didn't work, its that simple". The problem is that he actually believes in such truly archaic "strategy". Its the old "square peg, round hole" quagmire. It means that Therrien believes working harder at trying to fit said peg into the hole will ultimately make a difference. It isn't a plan, its a liability. Maybe it is that simple to Mike; then again, not everyone is a blunt instrument.

It is easy to forget how insurmountable playing against Brodeur can be. If they trap, you dump. You dump, he plays it. He plays it clean to some asshole like Colin White, or he plays it to an area where its a 75-25 puck for a Devils forward. That's where you need to get creative with how you dump the puck, timing the forecheck, zone entry, and owning the half boards. Any of those things would have been a nice adjustment. 

We take away the half boards, especially on Brodeur's forehand, maybe we hold the zone more than twice during the final two periods. 

Perhaps we take a page out of Colorado's book when they beat NJ in the Cup Finals; the hard-around. Brodeur couldn't field it cleanly. It must have been agonizing for him to watch the disc sail around the glass. 

Here's an idea; use the dummy play. The two-line pass is legal now, so station a Penguin RW somewhere in the middle of the ice on the NJ blue line. Mix up the breakout by letting a defenseman blast the puck at said RW from deep in our zone. The RW gets a piece of the puck, negating the icing while getting the puck into the NJ end in a real hurry. The play is timed with the weak side forward, the C, entering the zone to pressure the assholes, New Jersey. Its similar to the hard-around in that Brodeur wouldn't have any idea where the puck was going and, hence, couldn't time leaving the crease to play it. The LW takes a Devil or two to the slot, just deep enough to peel out in case of a turnover. The "dummy" RW goes to the weak half-boards, taking away the soft dump of the NJ defender, helplessly trying to reverse the puck to the defender whom is covering the LW charging the net. 

The dummy play uses the very tendencies of trapping teams against them to create what the work so hard to deprive; odd-man situations. If you time it right, at the very least you're playing one-on-one. With Centres like Pittsburgh's, that's a match-up I like. Best-case scenario, the RW catches that weak reverse, and the C is waiting for the give-and-go from the strong corner. Maybe the weak point is open? Who knows, but you've gained the zone easily and nobody is trapped in case of a fast breakout by NJ. 

Therrien just doesn't understand this shit. He seems unable to adjust to really obvious tactics. Hard work doesn't make a hockey player able to skate through a brick wall. That is why, Penguins fans, man invented the siege tower, and I suppose Therrien is that dude at the foot of the wall with boiling tar being poured upon him. 

You know what would have been a decent adjustment? The Murphy dump. From our zone, flip the puck 30 feet into the air, over the Devils and into the far end of the neutral zone. Do you recover the puck? You just may. In any event, you aren't turning the puck over in your own end. You're making NJ  compete for the puck every time you gain possession, which for last night would have been a Revelation. 

The thing that kills me -KILLS me- about Therrien, is that the only adjustment he sees fit tot make are juggling the lines. I fail to understand how he can be patient... so damn patient he allowed time to expire last night listlessly playing into the trap... patient enough for that, but so impatient that he feels it necessary to remove Fedotenko from the 1st line. Dude, we're 2 1/2 games intot the year. Are you disappointed there's no chemistry yet? I counted 4 instances where Fedotenko caused a Devil to turn the puck over in their zone in Period #1, so I'm not sure what the hell prompted Mike to demote him. He also wasn't featured on the PP. Mike went with Matt Cooke for some reason... How could Therrien be 4-years-patient with Rob Scuderi, yet not have the trigger finger to wait an entire home-opener to make silly line decisions? 

What I'm trying to say here is that failing to realize you have to make in-game adjustments, playing favorites with Frenchies, and especially explaining to the media that you're not really sure besides work ethic why you lost a tactical battle gets you fired when you have the players we have. Look at Minnesota's roster, or look at Nashville. Look at Boston, watch them play and imagine what it must be like to at least be able to wonder if the adjustment will make a difference. Its almost like Therrien hates transition and only wants to gets shots on net during power plays. 

Before I forget...

If you haven't seen it, you have to watch a San Jose Sharks game. I can't stop thinking about how lethal their PP is. Basically, they use variations of the aforementioned dummy play to gain the zone, and have Marleau and Cheechoo recover the puck. Those two then go to the net. Joe Thornton sets up with the puck in the right corner, just above the circle. 

He then looks out. What does he see? Close to him, set up in the slot slightly to the right of the hash marks is Cheechoo, who scored the other night off a vicious one-timer from this very position. Behind him below the right circle is the still-eye-popping righty one-timer of Rob Blake. Its a real challenge trying to negate Cheechoo and Blake from firing ICBMs at net. It splits the PK enough, and Joe has such a great set of passes, that Dan Boyle, whom owns a pretty dangerous right-handed shot, is set up below the left circle. Anaheim was scrambling thoughtlessly while Giguere was screened, hammered, and beaten repeatedly. The rebounds, especially from Blake's shots, were quickly pounced on by Marleau. His foot speed is perfect for that situation; pressuring the PK and recovering a rebound. It looks unstoppable; check it out. 

Thankfully, we have a woesome and ramshackle bunch, namely the Flyers, coming to town next. That should be a fun game. To me, its a must-win. The fucking Rangers are 4-0 and we have to close ground right now. Washington and Toronto after that... we need to start putting up Ws, and I mean yesterday.

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