PostGame PostUp: Wild 2 Ducks 1

Posted: 11/18/2010 by bc in Uncategorized

I’ve been watching, playing, coaching and studying hockey for more than 50 years. During this half century, I’ve never seen a time when there has been more truly great goaltenders in the NHL than now.

I’ve been saying this since the mid-nineties and the goaltending just continues to improve. It would be easy if you could point to some guru for an explanation. There just isn’t that one coach or training regimen.

Many refer to an established goalie criterion of a Top 5 in the NHL. I’m not sure if that shouldn’t be a Top 7 or a Top 10.

The Wild/Ducks tilt was interesting from a student of the game point of view.It was a deliberate and cautiously played hockey game by both sides. There were moments of creativity. Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne pulled us out of our seats a couple times.

Mostly though it was a battle to breath as the Wild trap counter-attack reduced the game to very small patches of ice. For the most part anytime fans were about to leave their seats, either Backstrom or McElhinney sat us back down with a groan. Though I admit that when it’s our goalie making a scintillating save, I come all the way out of my seat.

Brian Hayward wasn’t the only scratching his head and trying to make rhyme and reason to why Todd Richards backed off the forecheck for long stretches.

This road trip proved to be not quite as successful as the four game roadie through Columbus, Philadelphia, Detroit and Dallas. Our Ducks earned four of a possible eight points.

Our Ducks went 0-1-2, were outscored 7-4 and earned 2 of a possible 6 pts. A far sight better than the 3 game roadie to start the season. No sense rubbing our collective bills in the stats from those games.

Notes:

Nick Bonino continues to improve. When filling in on one of the top two lines, Nick looked good out there. he may take another trip to Syracuse but I think he wins a roster spot this year. Not certain as to his upside but his early progress is reminiscent of the Twins.

If Barstool Bob has anymore Vesa Toskala for Cutris McElhinney type trades in him, he could win executive of the year or suit of the year or whatever they call it.

Cam Fowler has earned his permanent number dawning #4. On draft day Barstool Bob  said comparing Camshaft  to Scot Niedermayer wasn’t fair and put unnecessary pressure on the young rookie. So he turns around and gives Fowler the number worn by Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau,  Red Kelly, Bill Gadsby, Scot Stevens and Vincent Lecalvalier.

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Comments
  1. Wrong side of the Atlantic says:

    Good point – with the number of great goalies, who can pull a win out on any given night, it’s probably no surprise the league is so tight in recent years.

    A disappointing road trip results-wise but no need to panic (or fiddle with the top lines!), all of the games could have gone either way.

    One thing I’ve noticed lately is that while Blake is playing well, his shot attempts have been poor… what’s with that?

  2. BackCheck says:

    G’day WSOTA,

    Yeah, Blake has looked a little snakebit of late. A few times it’s looked like he didn’t seem to get as much on the shot as he’d like. Forming an opinion on those is a little dangerous because you don’t know what the shooter is trying to accomplish every time. Sometimes you take a little off the shot when you just want to create a rebound or you’re just trying to feather it to the net. Sometimes too it can be a change in stick.

    Sorry I don’t have a better chat for ya on that one. it’s a question with about 4-5 followups we’d really have to put to Jason Blake directly.

  3. Wrong side of the Atlantic says:

    Thanks for the info Backcheck. I guess its a case of keep going and good things will happen, seeing as the rest of his game seems “on” at the mo.

  4. bbdux93 says:

    On the OC blog there are a lot of comments that I found . . . not interesting. I come here when I am ready to read and consider what is written by people who view the game, see things worth commenting on and don’t just post their feelings.

    My impression of the game this team is playing overall – I see improvements starting with what appear to me to be more confident players. I see little to indicate they panic when they are being out played. That alone makes me think by mid season this could be a respectable group – not great – but competitive.

    • BackCheck says:

      Hey bb,

      Competitive? Okay, given a team can be competitive and still miss the playoffs is a great one word situational analysis description. One goal RT and 3 pt OT games in a competitive conference can be the difference between a 4th and 10 place finish.

      Especially considering the West feasts on the east in inter-conference games.

      IMO, this new confidence was built upon cutting down on the stupid & selfish penalties. It just seemed to start when the guys got a grip on their emotions.

  5. ffe155 says:

    Tough road trip with 3 one goal games that could have gone either way.

    One emerging bright spot is the continued improvement of Luca Sbisa. Good to see his developing confidence in moving the puck out of the defensive zone and increasing willingness to jump into the offense. Obviously, RC is happy with his play as his TOI steadily increased through the road trip (11:44, 17:23, 18:56) including some time on the PP.

    IMO most of the recent defensive breakdowns have been the result of forwards turning the puck over in the defensive zone vice failures in the D moving the puck. The D is playing at a higher level than the preseason prognostications of the the experts.

  6. Wrong side of the Atlantic says:

    The players being more confident is perhaps a result of playing slightly differently, I could be wrong but I’m sure they’re carrying the puck and making plays a lot more, rather than just dumping and chasing.
    As well as the confidence, there’s more control – in the first few games the top line was taking stupid penalties and getting involved in fights – that’s stopped now. Was it Mara who stopped Getzlaf from fighting one time? great move and set the tone.

    I’m loving Sbisa’s play too – really hope he can keep it up!

  7. BackCheck says:

    Oh yeah on Luca Sbisa ffe155.

    Sutton broke his thumb when he stepped for Getz WSOTA.

    czhokej has done a great job chronicling specific changes in the system. I think you can pull ’em up by using the search this site for czhokej. His comments should appear in chronological order.

  8. bbdux93 says:

    Backcheck – I didn’t want to say it, but you got exactly what I meant when I said this team will competitive.

  9. czhokej says:

    bc, thank you for the compliment, but I am just an amateur, still learning. You have analyzed our problems against Dallas very well, and it was nice to understand what should have been done. Minnesota played interesting trap, sometimes 1-2-2, and sometimes blue line trap (1-4). What is the best counter-system?

  10. BackCheck says:

    Almost feel like ducking cz but dump and chase is the most often used counter to the 1-4 along the blueline. You can also feather it or lead pass across the blueline to an attacking forward.

    I know it came form Europe but not sure where, is the crisscross pass isolating one of the four. You know this cz but I want to keep this blog rookie friendly. IIRC the Stastny Bros. brought it to N.A.

    Think give and go with both skaters flying, one easterly, the other westerly. The give and go occurs as they meet and cut north, switching or crisscrossing into the teammate’s lane.

    The step by step version is:

    -The crisscross drop pass is a give and go executed with both skaters going full bore East/West along the neutral zone side of the 1-4 defended blueline.
    -The forward with the puck gives it, usually a drop pass to his teammate. They give and continue to go in opposite directions.
    – Both attacking forwards cross the blueline simultaneously on either side of the isolated D-man.

    Koivu/Selanne will execute it once in and a while. It’s high risk because it often results in an odd man attack, either way. If a defender breaks it up with a poke check it’s a major (((DOH))) because essentially you’ve got a 5 on 3 going the other way. But oh man it’s beautiful when it works.

  11. czhokej says:

    Thanks, bc. I can visualize it. I love those give-and-go’s, with speed. We did not execute many of those, and the Wild were ready for our chip-and-chase.

    I also remember Stastny brothers. I have seen them playing back in Europe, before they came to the Quebec Nordiques.

    About Blake: I hate when a player takes a low% shot from a bad angle, just because he is afraid to make a more difficult play. It’s like saying: “I am afraid to lose the puck if I make the move or pass. ” Marchant does the same.
    Lately, our players are afraid to take a risk, and as a result they stay on the perimeter, pass to the corner or along the boards.

  12. Wrong side of the Atlantic says:

    Thanks guys for the above analysis. It’s interesting and I’d like to improve my knowledge!

    BTW, I checked on the Mara stepping in for Getzlaf thing and found this quote after the loss to St Louis (from OCR) to which I was referring(!):
    “I’m not going to let him fight,” Mara said. “He might be mad at me. I don’t know who’s mad at me. We need him on the ice. We don’t need him out.”

    This really impressed me at the time but probably I’m making too much of it in terms of its impact! Anyway, Mara has played way above expectations for me, and his GWG against Nashville was just brilliant.
    It’s funny we now have 8 D-men who probably deserve to be on the team, considering the pre-season angst!

    • BackCheck says:

      Hey WSOTA,

      (((DOH))) I’ll take an Elmer. After all you only posted, “Was it Mara who stopped Getzlaf from fighting one time?”

      Yes Mara stopped Getzlaf from going and Sutton stepped in to take the fight.

      And no I don’t think you made too much of it. Two vets telling Getz, “That’s not your job.” And one stepping up to take the fight. Sutton & Mara probably voted Koivu for captain 😉

  13. buick22 says:

    I voted for Koivu too…too bad we don’t count.

    Anyone else really tired of the backhand giveaway we have perfected on this trip?

    We invented the move during our opening RT, and I believe it has worked every time, CMac or Hiller have bailed us out on a few, but it boggles the mind…I am talking about forwards mostly, Getzlaf leads the bunch, but the youngsters have done it too. I also think Palmieri has reached the point of diminishing returns…he must have given the puck up to the strong-on-the-stick backcheck four or five times when nearly alone in the zone to start…someone has to be seeing that on tape, and trying to fix it Right? Green and Bonino looked better, I actually thought the Green, Marcant, Carter trio looked better than however they were mashed up before hand…too bad it was brief…they matched each others styles better IMO.

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