Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MacTactics on the Road

MacTactics is another Dennisian term, and it fits here. What MacTavish does and what he says are often completely different. We're at the point now, with technology, that he can be cornered we he starts talking nonsense for the greater good. MacTavish surely knows that the media can call 'bullshit' on him if they choose, and it's made him more interesting. I mean fairly quickly it's going to occur to him that nobody in the Edmonton media has the awareness or the stones, or the alternative career options available, to do that. But there is a window right now that is worth looking through. Personally, I think it's worth listening to audio clips when you have a chance.

Now I'll take the quantum leap from what MacTavish says to what MacTavish does:

In Detroit Babcock whacked the Oilers with all the heavy hitters at once. By the numbers, all of Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Rafalski and Holmstrom were on the ice together a bunch. I guess I should have seen the "A" Plan coming. A bit harsh for a home game against the Oilers, I mean it's not like it's game 65 for the Wings are they are gearing up for the playoffs. But they had lost in Chicago, that's bad luck for the Oil. And pregame interview Babcock talking about how the weaker teams still have belief for the first 20 games or so, until there is separation ... with benefit of hindsight we should have seen this coming.

And now, just the facts. Icetime vs Lidstrom+Zetterberg combined:

This also implies icetime against Datsyuk, Rafalski (who has been playing tough minutes since his rookie year) and Homer. The trend is blindingly obvious. Though Huddy/MacTavish's decision on how to run the defence is still a mile up in the air by the looks of this. The very first shift of the third period Huddy marched Souray and Greene out there ... damn, I don't know what to think. By midway there seemed to be more Pitkanen and Staios, though personally I don't notice the D that much when I watch the games, it seemed that way.

And the Gagner vs Zetterberg cuts from the shift chart. Gagner registers as the Oiler that played the least vs Z, but a bunch were in the same vicinity. Gagner in blue, Z in green:

The Green strips on the edges are DET powerplays. The shift after opposing PPs is the sweetest icetime available. If anyone on the fanboards is bitching that Gagner isn't getting enough opportunity, well they've been smoking the drapes. It doesn't get better than that. And if you moved him with Hemsky Penner ... Well Babcock would probably move Zetterberg/Datsyuk and Rafalski to Horcoff ... but Lidstrom, Homer, Cleary, Draper etc will be there to face him, and he'd get destroyed and demoralized. I wish that wasn't true, but it is.

Back to point.The only head to head icetime for Z vs Gagner here was probably in the DET end of the rink. And it was factually after Zetterberg had been on the ice for a stretch against Horcoff's line and was tired, or at least more tired than when he started the shift. The gap between Horcoff/Hemsky and Gagner/Pouliot, in terms or responsibility and in terms of impact on results ... well they are well represented in the first graphic.


So the question for tonight's game in Minny, where the miserable Lemaire runs the "A" game plan even against the weak sisters; who plays immediately after Horcoff? Because you just know that Lemaire will load up all of Gaborik, Demitra and Johnsson against that line, he has to. My guess is that Rolston/Bouchard get that gig for Minny, and these guys have shown that they can exploit weak players. So where does Gagner go? Either the press box or the Boogaard minutes, I suppose.

Jesus. We haven't even started talking about Nilsson, Cogliano, Brodziak, Sanderson (love Dennis' and MC's comments on the guy, I can't make it mesh with my memories though), Stoll, and Jacques. And that's before injuries. And the D is not as bad as I first thought, after brief viewing, still.

As an aside: Does anyone have a picture of somebody, who looks like Craig MacTavish, with a dozen corks in a bucket, trying to hold them all under water at once? I'm going to need that this season methinks. :)


Blogger Black Dog said...

Great stuff Vic - I'm looking forward to watching tonight and seeing what transpires.

10/10/2007 5:47 pm  
Blogger Lowetide said...


I've spent the last two hours seacrhing the net for that photo, because you might need it sooner than later. Lemaire has that same asshole smile Slats had over the years when the Oil had the other guy by the nuts and wouldn't let go.

I don't have any idea how many things would have to go wrong for the Wild to miss the playoffs.

10/10/2007 8:08 pm  
Blogger namflashback said...


Their robot-goalie manufacturing plant would have to burn down and all the schematics lost. And Lemaire would have to get amnesia, and come back thinking he was Bob Hartley.



To my count, 2 goals that DET scored, and both goals that MIN scored were in the transition after an Oilers PP or PK. The Oilers got all screwed up and mismatched in all 4 cases. I haven't confirmed it on the event summaries for the game last night, but I know it holds true against DET. Look at the Oilers on the ice -- I just stared at it and laughed "why were that set of players out there together?"

Exposure on the road is right.

MacT seemed to make the right adjustment on the 4th instance, getting 8-19-51 out at the tail end of a PP, but they still got roasted as 24 made a stupid pass up the middle. 2-nut.

And it was over.

Not at all surprised. Curious to see what this coach can do to make his lineup roadworthy. Having 18 back would help, as running:

18-16-78 on a line would be a little more airtight.

Changes it down to 3 corks, all on one line methinks.

On another note, couldn't 44+77 make a more desirable pair? With the majority of outlet coming off of 77?

Leave 23-2 as the third?

10/11/2007 11:39 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Just checked the shifts for last night's game, and as you say, the second goal was the shift after an Oilers PP. Horcoff's line looks to have played most of that PP, so they weren't out there for the inevitable 'shift after powerplay' v Gaborik and Demitra.

That was a bit of a fluky goal as well. I mean the coverage wasn't great, and maybe better Oiler players have the puck in the other end of the rink ... but it was still a very fortunate bounce for the Wild.

I never watched after that. It's a movie I've seen too many times over the years. And it was boring at the first viewing. The numbers say it was a hard match of Gaborik on Horcoff's line from that point onwards though.

Something I never noticed while watching on TV, but is very clear on the shift chart; Lemaire deviated from his expected PvP thing vs Horcoff's line. He ran Gaborik shift-Rolston shift-Gaborik shift a few times though. It's an interesting twist, hard to say how well it worked ... how much is the player and how much is the cards?

BTW: The first goal came on a Gaborik-Rolston-Gaborik stretch. Horcoff's shift covered the back half of the first Gaborik shift, all of the Rolston shift, and then the first bit of the next Gaborik shift. The Wild scored about 20 seconds after 10/83 left the ice.

Somebody asked MacTavish in a pregame presser how he would protect the rookie line on the road (this before the Detroit game). He said that he could always keep them away from one line, but not away from two on the road. Which makes sense. Detroit has good players right through the lineup of course, but the big talent was all on the ice at once in that one. In Minny it's two good lines.

Really though, IMO just too many weak links on MacTavish's roster. This team needs Pisani and Moreau back, they need Stoll and Torres to start playing like veterans.

Some of the young guys really look like players though. Cogliano and Gilbert especially, to my eyes in limited viewing. And I thought that Pouliot looked dangerous at times. Jacques should have done better on the whole, but that was a Forsbergesque one touch pass that led to Stoll's scoring chance (the shot from the high middle that nearly beat Backstrom). Rookies are going to make mistakes, we all know that, so I think it's important to see some flashes of brilliance in there on occasion, just to make us feel that the suffering will be worth it. :D

10/11/2007 8:14 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Does anybody know if anyone is publishing shift charts anywhere? The TOI data looks really clean this year, so the raw data is there. Somebody out there must have written a shift chart making program, no?

10/11/2007 8:18 pm  

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