Archive for the ‘Systems Analyst’ Category

dale weise

There’s a tough reality about games that go deep into overtime: spreading ice time around goes a long way towards sustaining the performance of your best players (yay!), but it also means that the bottom of your roster has to get through the odd shift without costing you (booo). You roll the dice every time you throw your low-liners over the boards (please just get it deep, please just get it deep), and on Wednesday night Tampa Bay crapped out.

On the ice for the Candiens game winner was one veteran in Eric Brewer (35), along with rookie Radko Gudas (23), rookie Nikita Kucherov (20), rookie Richard Panik (23), and a guy in his third-ever NHL game straight out of junior at age 20, Cedric Paquette. The 6’1″ 198 pounder most-recently played with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL, scoring 83 points in 63 games.

An initial review of the OT-winner made me wince: Paquette, who played the least of any player on either team in Game 1 made the error that cost his team the game. Ouch.

…BUT WAIT! There’s good news: it wasn’t entirely his fault. ACTUALLY, It was barely his fault – it was a damn tough read and Tampa got a damn tough break.

Let’s dive in.


The play starts with Daniel Briere finding a soft spot and getting a shot. He’s being fronted by Eric Brewer though, and his attempt gets blocked. You’ll see in the frames further down, the block kicks up to Josh Gorges at the point.


In the frame above you have pretty good defensive positioning, bordering on great. Radko Gudas has Dale Weise, Cedric Paquette has an eye on Michael Bournival (could be a tighter), Brewer is on Briere, Nikita Kucherov is in perfect weak-side winger defensive positioning, and Richard Panik is in a great strong side winger spot. It’s team-by-team whether he should be helping on Briere here or not.

Anyway, the shot gets blocked and ricochets up to Josh Gorges. You can see who’s on who below. Read the rest of this entry »


The Columbus Blue Jackets may be closing out the year on the road, but Tuesday night’s roller coaster game against the Phoenix Coyotes all but guaranteed they won’t need a monumental finish to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They now find themselves four points up on the Washington Capitals with the tiebreaker squarely in their back pocket, and five up on the Devils, also with the tiebreaker. That’s pretty much all she wrote.


The most exciting part for them is that a few wins in their final three games in which they’re at Dallas, at Tampa Bay, and at Florida, and they could give the Red Wings a run for the top wild card spot, which would mean NOT facing the Boston Bruins. That’s a pretty big prize right there.

The goal that put them in this comfy-cozy position was a Ryan Johansen breakaway snipe – his 32nd(!) of the year – in overtime past Thomas Greiss. He’s still 21, bee tee dubs.

So, what went wrong for the Coyotes? What went right for the Blue Jackets?


The play starts when both teams are making a change – Columbus gets theirs in first, and like a NASCAR driver first out of the pits, they’re off to the races. Well, NASCAR drivers are already at the races, but whatever, you get the point.

Boone Jenner pressures Zbynek Michalek, who has solid, solid possession of the puck on the back-end. Ekman-Larsson is being aggressive, jumping up to give Michalek a passing option by skating across the blue-line a zone ahead, while Antoine Vermette presents his stick on the boards.

Lauri Korpikoski completes the Coyotes change, and also presents for Michalek. In short, Michalek has options, man.


Then, he makes the bad, terrible decision to try to beat Jenner as the last man back. Even if he sees an easy way to do it, there’s no point in taking a risk in this situation. Just move it early and hard to one of your teammates that’s attacking the Blue Jackets. You’ve already got your partner going for the gusto, somebody’s gotta play Spock here and think logically.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gustav Nyquist

honda copy

Gustav Nyquist has been a terror everywhere he’s played. In the excellent NCAA conference Hockey East, he put up 144 points in 113 games over three seasons with the Maine Black Bears.

He was okay in the AHL too.

And now in the NHL…

I don’t give a flying fun what you have to say about regression – in fact, eat it, don’t say anything about it – this kid is a pure talent and not a flash in the pan. Let’s just enjoy a player at his most confident discovering his NHL game and devouring opponents in the process. We know he’s not a 70 goal guy.

Anyway, last night the man who prompted this excellent graphic from @wingingitmotown


…scored just a massive goal for the Red Wings to put them up 3-2 on the Boston Bruins while in the midst of a tight playoff race. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: you need game-breakers, and Nyquist broke this one open for Detroit like a kid at his piggy bank with a hammer.

Let’s take a look at how the opportunity arose, and what went wrong for the Bruins. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Wings win

honda copy

First off, on the question of “Who’s to blame?” …”Not James Reimer” is a good place to start. I’m not saying the guy is Patrick Roy reincarnate, but his three goals against came on a breakaway, a partial breakaway, and a 2-on-1 that ended in an uncontested snappy-wrist-shot from the slot by Daniel Alfredsson (while he was forced to move laterally). Out of 31 shots? Keep his name outcho mouth.

We’ll look at the Red Wings three goals, and just how Detroit earned (or were handed) the opportunities they needed to keep their playoff hopes alive.

1-0 Detroit

Nyquist scores

What happened: Gustav Nyquist opened the scoring on a breakaway, 12:50 into the first period.



This is as far back as the video goes, but what we’ve got off the top is…


…Kessel and JvR forechecking, Kyle Quincey trying to break the puck out, the Red Wings looking sound positionally, and the Leafs F3, Tyler Bozak….oh god where’s Bozie going. Bozie, you’re high, what’re you creeping in for? We don’t even have the puck!

Read the rest of this entry »


Playing defense involves doing a bunch of stuff forwards hate, which basically all boil down to stops and starts. We’re really good at loops and curls, not so much at making adjustments based off reading opponents. We prefer to read the puck (we shouldn’t).

But that’s the reality of playing defense – you often aren’t doing what you want so much as you’re trying to read and react to what opponents are doing. You’re the ego to forwards’ id. In the corners you have to play the mirror game, in the neutral zone you best be reading your opponent’s speed.

Gap control through the neutral zone is important at all levels because if you you’re backing in too fast you allow forwards to go east-west inside the blueline and create, and if you’re too tight you risk getting your doors blown off wide. It ain’t easy matching someone’s speed in a backwards-versus-forwards race.

In the NHL it’s even more important, because it isn’t too many strides inside the blueline before players are in a dangerous shooting area. And by “not too many strides” I mean like, seven feet of gliding, especially since they intend to use you as a screen. Most of these guys have bombs, which makes that area of the ice a little dangerous.

Carolina’s goal to tie up Buffalo with four minutes left in the third was the product of bad gap control – I’ll get to why it was so bad in the body. And yes, I feel sort of bad about highlighting a Canes goal in a game the Sabres actually won in regulation. Sort of. Read the rest of this entry »

dominc moore

To most hockey fans, the word “system” is a vague notion often used to explain away failures (and successes) when there’s no clear way to assign them to a certain player. “I have no idea why our team is losing so much,” comes out of their mouths as “[Head coach]‘s systems are brutal,” and that’s the end of it.

If somebody complains (or praises) their team’s system, they either do a lot of research, have an incredible eye, or are an overheated windbag spewing fumes of superiority while taking full advantage of the fact that the person they’re talking to also has no idea about the intricacies of said team’s play. Few fans really know just what systems their team uses – it’s a fast game.

All of that is my way of saying that I don’t know exactly what the Devils aspire to do in their d-zone. I could be wrong. So, I’ll do my best to break this goal down while explaining what I believe is happening, and what the other options could be.

Here’s the goal – the Rangers first of seven – then we’ll get to it in detail. Read the rest of this entry »


For a player to score a goal, someone on the other team has to make a mistake. Almost always. Hockey, like golf, is a game of mistakes, only in the ice version of the mistake sports, you have more of an opportunity to force your opponent to mess up…which is precisely the purpose of a good forecheck.

Last night the Columbus Blue Jackets opened the scoring against the Tampa Bay Lightning after a perfect offensive zone rotation caused a turnover, and they capitalized.

Today we’re focusing on the great forecheck and goal by the Blue Jackets, instead of the negative play by the defense. (Though I will be pointing that out too, cause y’know, why not.)

Let’s. Get. To it.


This goal by Ryan Johansen was his 17th on the year. He leads Columbus in points by five with 34 in 46 as a 21-year-old. Dude is a player. Read the rest of this entry »