Friday, November 02, 2007

Slipper's Song

If you haven't read the comments in the post below, you should. And if you have, you will have read some terrific commentary on breakouts by slipper.

This is a thread to discuss the topic, and just generally tactics. I'm sure we're all wrong a lot, but still have a lot to learn from each other.

I'm not sure how popular this subject will be, but I really hope it appeals to at least a few. And if you have something to say, but you're feeling a bit reticent about throwing in your opinion for fear of being off the mark; always remember, it's just the fucking internet. Have at 'er.


Blogger RiversQ said...

I tend to agree with namflashback (I think that's who said it) on the Oilers' breakouts. Actually, I think it applies to the Oilers strategy in general.

I think MacT has the Oilers make highly situationally dependent decisions. That's certainly how this team forechecked when they were a hockey team with a purpose. It depended on the change, it depended on opposition d-pairing, it depended on the dump in, and whether there was a winger getting to the line unhindered and preferably wide to avoid the dmen as much as possible. If those things were in line, they'd send in two, if not they didn't bother.

Same goes with the breakouts IMO - I don't think they consistently favour one side over the other. If they do, it'll have more to do with the d-pairing and the other team's forecheck than anything else IMO.

Just a hunch, but I think the legends of Smyth and Lupul from 06/07 are polluting the waters here. Sure Smyth charged out of the zone at times last year and heaven knows Lupul couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag last year, but I think that clouds our perception of the total number of opportunities. JMO.

11/02/2007 10:06 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I agree on all counts, Riv.

Especially on the way that NSH just seemed to run out of steam at the midway point of the game. The Oilers really should have won this one.

To my eye NSH played the same system going forward as you describe for the Oilers (which is common of course). Though on this night the first forward for Nashville checked up a bunch, and of course the 2F followed suit, because he has to. (I'd guess this passivity was probably largely due to plan, because they knew they were going to be tired, I dunno). That's as passive of a game I've ever seen a Trotz team play though, even when they were crap a few years ago they came at you.

I thought the play on the Oilers sideboards that lead to the Hemsky goal was pretty representative of the Oilers play in their own end though. He was the first forward back for the Ducks he would have been drifting near the slot in that case, the second layer of containment behind the D who had that zone. Instead he's hard on the guy, NsH had two forward in there to battle ... the puck wasn't going to stay on the wall for long, and there was plenty of open ice for everybody else whenever it came out. Worked the Oilers way on that one. Who would we have blamed if one of the NSH forecheckers and wrastled that puck through some guys and into the slot?

A bad game to do this on though. Sportsnet has close camera angles, and frankly it was a depressing game to be an Oiler fan. Best forgotten. If I hadn't started this thread I wouldn't have responded.

11/03/2007 12:50 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

That only Oilers goal was rung around to the right wing side, no? See I thought Nashville's cheated toward the deep forward (Torres?) on that play which left the right lane wide open.

If there is a dominant side it's going to be revealed mainly against a strong foecheck, where a player's forced to make a blind pass and/or ring it around, and I didn't see alot of that last night. The Predators seem content to muck it up in the neutral zone. They'd turn a few Oilers puck carriers around but didn't seem to harrass them much deep.

THe only contention I have with what Rivers says is that I have a hard time beleiving an NHL coach wouldn't have simple designated plays up and down the roster. I mean I can't imagine a variety directives per each defensive pairing, and considering how often forward lines are mixed up, compounded by the speed and fluidity of the game of hockey, it makes more sense to me that there be set sides of coverage in certain situations.

11/03/2007 1:09 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

Of course strategy is situationally dependent. I wasn't contending that every Oilers' breakout began as a ring around to the right wing boards with a LW'er cruising the neutral zone, but that it seemed to be the trend under high pressure in their own end. Of course if there's different situation and the puck carrier has time and space a plethora of other options unfold.

I noticed on a play that started on the right wing boards on the Oilers end, broke into the neutral zone, and then ended in a dump for the line change, that Penner was stapled to the boards at the redline on the penalty box side. After the puck was securely deep in the Opp's end Penner skated across to the bench for the change. I noticed nearly the exact thing unfold on a few shifts the previous game where Torres assumed the same position but on the Opp's blueline: standing straight up against the wall. On that play the Oilers dumped it in but continued to forecheck. Penner's directives are obviously totally different than Torres' but the two plays look nearly identical save for Penner simply just protecting the icing.

11/03/2007 1:25 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I mean I can't imagine a variety directives per each defensive pairing...

Damn right they do.

When Nik Lidstrom is out there you know it and execute a game plan accordingly.

Same goes for Rory Fitzpatrick or a spring chicken like Roy on the other side of the coin.

I would be fucking shocked if they didn't do this.

Now I'm not saying the Oilers have a forechecking plan for every single d-man in the league, but I bet they're up around a 1/3 or 1/4 which means they have a plan for around half of the pairings out there. The vast majority of these are probably really similar and can be boiled down into 3-4 different set plays, but there's definitely a fair amount of decisions to be made here.

11/03/2007 2:02 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

Yeah, your right. I wouldn't argue that teams don't have predetermined gameplans depending on the roster they're facing. But in the middle of play, in the midst of that gameplan, I think they stick to a pretty structured system. Only because Fitzpatrick could change up and Lidstrom could be on the ice before that scuttle brain Grebeshkov turns his head around while in the corner. I mean that's the whole point of a team looking to get their most desired match-up. If they can change-up while a fatigued, weaker line is pinned in their own zone.

Also I think you're talking more about forechecking and I'm focusing more on the Oilers' in their own end.

11/03/2007 3:10 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Yeah, slipper, it was a terrible game to test your theory. In fairness to me Nashville on usually right in your face on the forecheck, there just wasn't a whole lot of pressure and cycling from them last night though. Maybe we should wait until an eastern conference team comes to town. the Flames ran at the Oilers pretty hard last time too, maybe them.

But on the "different game plans against different defencemen" theme. If you're the first forward into the zone, and you're starting to gun for the puck in the corner, but you see Lidstrom going to get it and Rafalski fading back to the other side as a safe pass ... do you hold off? What if it's Lebda and Lilja instead, does the first man in decide to go for it then, in the ignisecond that he has to make a decision?

I remember hearing "there is no sense chasing Scott Niedermayer behind the net" being stated by the coaching staff and echoed by the players during the Oilers terrific playoff run of a couple of years ago. And while that's true, saying "get right on top of Dipenta and ? (can't remember at the minute) would have been just as true. To the point of being just another way of saying it, granted less politely. I think. No?

11/03/2007 6:32 pm  

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