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Messages - herman

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Carrick breaks the tie!

Knocks down the high fluttering rebound in the high slot, and off the first bounce, Carrick slaps home a flutterpuck.

Pretty even, low event game so far. Gardiner sprung Holland for a minor breakaway to take advantage of a line change, but Holland got slashed with no call.


Not sure why the Habs' SBN outlet picked this interview up, but it was probably because the guy was in Sweden.

And how much do you hear from Toronto over the season, and what do the normally say to you?

This year we have had contact quite a bit. They check in to see how I am doing, ask how I feel. We text a bit. They have been here a few times — twice, actually. They will be around again later this season.

Not only for me though, they will go around Europe, as they will scout out quite a few more guys. It would be weird if they checked only my matches.

How much do you follow Toronto during the season?

We shouldn't lie and say I am up every night to watch them. I check highlights every day, usually in the morning, so you know if they win or lose. You keep abreast of trades and points. You don't have total control, but you have a general idea at all times. Every time they have played a game, I will check the result.

You are going across the Atlantic to Toronto next year — it is more or less confirmed. Are you prepared to do your time in the AHL, even if [former Frölunda teammate] Mattias Janmark set the bar high for the rest of you by joining the Dallas Stars directly?

Absolutely. I am going to come over and fight for a place [on the team]. If you don't get that place you never know what will happen, but I am definitely ready to go over there and play in the the AHL if I don't make the NHL team.

How big of a difference is it for a European player to go from an Olympic-sized rink to an NHL rink, in your opinion?

I have never really played a game on an NHL rink, but when I was younger, I practised a few times on a smaller rink. What you hear and read is that the tempo isn't higher, but you will have less time to control the puck because there is less space and less distance to cover, thereby also granting less space to work with as a player. Because of that you probably have to dump a few more pucks rather than have a controlled entry; there will be more body checks.

The main thing is probably that the angles you take your shots from will be different. But in the end, it is still a game of hockey. I think it will go quite fast to get into it, where you can go at full speed, from which areas you can shoot, etc. You have to give it a few games, but then I expect to be right in the middle of it.


This will be his 9th game. His next one after tonight will be the one to burn a year of his ELC. I didn't expect this to just be a 9-game stint but that confirms it.

I thought this would've been pretty obvious seeing as how he wasn't an emergency call up, and he was called up at the deadline.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Winnik traded to Washington
« on: March 15, 2016, 11:34:28 AM »
You gotta love Brooks Laich.  If he gets on Babcock's good side he could be back next year.

I like him too. He's still under contract for next season, as are Greening and Michalek. Wouldn't be surprising to see them on the team next year as deadline bait, or veteran presence/player/character coaches playing out the string. On this team, they are still serviceable so long as they are able-bodied.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Winnik traded to Washington
« on: March 15, 2016, 09:38:52 AM »
What the Feschuk?

“This isn’t my place to say it, but I think the organization is in a great place to really take off next year,” said Brooks Laich, the long-time Washington Capitals forward who arrived in the February deal for Daniel Winnik. “The players who are here, myself included, are all on an audition for next year, for who’s going to be a part of it. For outsiders — if you’re a UFA or something — you look at a tremendous coaching staff, a fabulous place to play hockey where you are treated like royalty by the organization, by the people in town from my experience, and you’re part of a young, energetic movement that’s going to push teams.
“To me, that’s a very attractive place to play.”

Certainly Laich could be a model pitchman to those considering Toronto as a destination. He left a Stanley Cup contender — albeit not by choice — and is still framing Leafland as an ideal landing spot.

“This is an amazing opportunity. Coming from D.C., I’m not dragging my lip,” Laich said in an interview Friday. “I don’t think we’re as far away as everybody thinks. There are going to be growing pains, don’t get me wrong. There’s going to be pain. But I’ve seen us play very, very well. I’ve seen us control the territory game, the shots-on-net game, the possession game, the faceoffs. I’ve seen that growth in our game. Now if you can add in a dominant special teams, which takes you up another level, and you add more and more experience — some of these (rookies) have played a half-dozen games, and they’re competitive with NHL playoff teams.”

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Mike Babcock is the Leafs new Coach!
« on: March 14, 2016, 12:21:46 PM »
There's quite a bit to unpack here, so I've tried to precis as best as I could. Basically, Mike Babcock is a tinkerer and tweaks his system to his personnel to give them the best chance to succeed (so long as they execute positionally).

Following the retirement of Rafalski and Lidstrom, Babcock recognized that he was going to need to protect his defensive corps. Heading into the 2012-2013 season, this was Mike Babcock's defensive group: [Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff]

Given this relatively inexperienced group, Babcock elected to tighten up the Red Wings system by reducing the frequency of pinches by defensemen in the offensive zone, reducing the frequency of defensemen joining the rush, and by increasing the frequency in which the third forward stayed high in the offensive zone to prevent odd-man rushes. Going back to the graphs above, you'll see steady declines in 5v5 shot attempts against, scoring chances against, and high-danger chances against. However, you'll notice that the tradeoff was a significant decrease in offense. Granted, some of that is due to the loss of Rafalski and Lidstrom in successive years, but a large part of that is due to the systems changes made by Babcock.

Adjustments To The Forecheck
The first adjustment made by Babcock was to decrease the aggressiveness of the forecheck by playing his weak-side winger outside the blue line, almost in a soft "1-2-2" formation. [...] [The centre] forward is playing deeper to prevent a stretch pass or quick breakout pass on a team's motion or lane regroup. This is considered a "soft" 1-2-2 forecheck that provides strong neutral zone support to your defensemen. Essentially, the Wings are able to keep everyone in front of them defensively. This helps mask any potential weaknesses in skating for your defensemen by relying on sound positioning and strong skating from your forwards.

[The] Wings keep everybody in front of them and [the opponent] has to come through the neutral zone with little speed. This allows the Wings defensemen time to appropriately gauge [the opponents'] oncoming speed and adjust their skating accordingly. Ultimately, Babcock was able to hide many of the deficiencies of the Red Wings' defensemen by playing sound positional hockey.

The other thing to note [...] is how deep the defenseman is playing off of the oncoming forward. By playing off of the forward but ahead of the blue line, it gives the defenseman an added bit of space to turn and chase the puck if the forward elects to dump the puck in. Many teams like to have their defensemen press up on the forward receiving the puck to force a neutral zone turnover or force a tip-in to the offensive zone. However, Babcock preferred his defensemen to play a little off the high forward, giving his defenseman the opportunity to still force a turnover with his stick, but also have an extra bit of space if he needs to turn and chase a dump-in.

In conjunction with this, Babcock stressed having his third forward play high in the offensive zone. Below is an image depicting what that looks like.

This player is playing "high" in the offensive zone, meaning that he is not trapped down low where the puck is. Instead, he is hanging out higher in case the puck is recovered by the defensive (blue) team and they start a breakout. If the play moves in his direction (i.e. towards the near boards in the image above), he can leave his position and jump into the offensive play while the red "R" would drop back into third-man high position. Overall, this player is in better position defensively and slightly worse position offensively. However, Babcock preached this principle in order to limit the number of odd-man rushes his team faced.

Offensive Zone Pinches
To avoid creating races for the puck, Babcock also preached having his defensemen retreat rather than pinch and to only pinch if absolutely certain they could create a play. While some teams like to have their defensemen pinch up in the play to keep possession in the offensive zone, others prefer to have their defensemen retreat in order to prevent odd-man rushes. Babcock was a staunch proponent of the latter, especially over the past three years in Detroit. He was a proponent of this as it created less situations where his defensemen had to skate or be involved in a foot race. He was masking the deficiencies of his players.


By masking the deficiencies of his defensemen and forcing the Wings to play a more "low-event" system, Babcock watched his team progressively struggle to score goals.


After Babcock left for Toronto this past summer, new head coach Jeff Blashill stepped in and promised to activate his defense more in order to generate more consistent offense. Many fans were excited as they felt that Babcock's message was starting to fall on deaf ears. However, we can see from this graph and the graphs above, that Blashill's strategy switch has not paid dividends and has actually led to a significant increase in 5v5 high-danger scoring chances against and 5v5 scoring chances against. The Wings are giving up 10.6 5v5 high-danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes, the worst mark for a Red Wings team over the last nine seasons. Essentially, the activation of the defense and propensity to lose the third-man-high contain has unmasked the flaws of the Red Wings defense.


Is Blashill's system a bad one? No, not even close to it. The problem lies in the fact that the Red Wings personnel does not matchup with the coach's system. This is not a problem that only applies to Detroit. In fact, this problem applies to a large majority of the NHL and results in "bad" players playing more and "good" players playing less as a coach feels these players fit his system better. Babcock loved Luke Glendening because he was a defense-first player who was very concerned about his positioning. Blashill has gone that route at times because Glendening is not likely to give up his position as third-man high. It's quite possible that this is just an average roster and that within Blashill's system, he is not able to get as much out of them as Babcock.

Blashill's system is predicated on having mobile, high IQ defensemen in combination with positionally-sound forwards. The Wings have very few of these types of players, illustrating why this team has struggled to adapt to Blashill's system. I do believe that a coach is responsible for tinkering his system to match his personnel as Babcock has done for the past few years.

The Leafs played a real stifling game against the Wings. Great to see. You can't lose them all!

I didn't watch the game, but is "stifling" the right word here? They were outshot 38-27 and Detroit had 58% of the shot attempts at even-strength. Seems like one Bernier just stole, no?

The Leafs stifled the neutral zone most of the night (hard gap closure), but Detroit's talented team broke through enough times for some quality chances. Bernier did indeed stand tall(er than usual), but a lot of the shots on were the D giving him fairly clean looks and minimizing scramble opportunities.

It was a pretty back and forth night for both teams on the second game of a back-to-back, but the Leafs clearly had a speed advantage for more of the game thanks to the rest they got against Ottawa.


He's no Dylan Larkin

Who could ever even hope to be?

Dylan Larkin is the Vitruvian hockey player, of proportion and skill that none can hope to attain. Nylander only beat him because of Larkin's exceeding humility.


Leafs Media Rumours / Re: Jimmy Vesey
« on: March 14, 2016, 09:21:01 AM »
Also, if the Leafs sign Stamkos they should send Marner to Tampa Bay so they don't get their feelings hurt.

I think Burke would've done that, actually.
Then again, he wouldn't have drafted Marner.

Lol. Grabner.

No idea what he was thinking there. That's novice hockey basics.

He was going for the net, but did not account for his momentum carrying the puck away from the target. Super tired = hard to think.

MotM: Bernier
HM: Nylander -- went up against Zetterberg and did not buckle.

Lol. Grabner.

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