Updated: A fun question for all

Posted: 01/11/2012 by bc in Uncategorized
Scroll to the the next to last paragraph for the update.
from bbdux93:
bc and cz have both commented on RC’s style of pressuring the puck.  What I think I’m seeing with Gabby is more pressuring the opponent’s puck carrier.  Can you write an article – even if it’s brief – on the difference between the two – if in fact what I think I’m seeing is Gabby’s system…
With the caveat that the team is still adapting to the “new voice” there are real differences in how our Ducks defend under Gabby’s system. The first difference is that pressure the puck carrier defensive systems, RC’s included, are  orientated to one on one coverage. For example, under Coach Carlyle when defending against a 2 on 1, the D-man took the puck carrier. The goalie was required to pick up and defend against the other attacker. The theory is that this creates a 2 on 2.
In Coach Boudreau’s more traditional box plus one (Link highly recommended) approach, the defender is responsible for a zone or patch of ice. This defender’s check is defined as any opposing player skating inside the zone. When defending a 2 on 1 in this system the defender responsibility is to defend the passing lane between the oncoming attackers. And yeah there’s more bb…In pressure the puck carrier or man on man systems, the checker or defender stays with the puck carrier regardless where the attacker goes. Zone coverage is less important.
The reason that you’re seeing more pressure on the puck carrier under Gabby is because when each guy is responsible for a zone it’s easier to force the puck carrier to skate into a trap where the attacker is outnumbered at the puck and forced to eat the biscuit or turn it over.  By defending a zone you bring more pressure on the puck because each defender has a different job depending on proximity to the play.
The defender closest to the puck carrier is assigned to the puck carrier. This is often described as first man to the puck takes the attacker. The second or support defender has the task of first sealing off a passing lane and second picking up the puck.
One way to visualize this is to watch how teams force the attacking squad to the perimeter and once there, trap the puck carrier. It’s done by first taking away the latitudinal passing lanes and triangulating pressure on the attacking puck carrier.
OCR’s Eric Stephens, who is much closer to our Ducks than this blog, followed this up in Tighter defense now paying dividends. It’s a great read. Here are a few player’s comments in support of exactly what we’ve discussed here.
“For us, I think we have enough team speed where we can just kind of smother the puck and get two or three guys in there at one time. And I think we’re doing a better job of that.”

“I think we’re taking a little bit more pride in our defense,” Gabby said. “When you do that, hopefully you don’t allow as many goals. The other thing is when we first got here, I would watch on TV and there was an awful lot of giveaways through the middle of the ice. I’ve really tried to eliminate that. That’s probably the biggest thing we’ve eliminated.”

Fowler said one key philosophical change under Boudreau is the Ducks going away from the aggressive puck pressure system in their end, particularly up high in the zone.

But wait there’s more;

“Being a little more lower in the defensive zone,” said Francois Beauchemin, who is a plus-6 over the last five games. ”Having our wingers really tight in the box. When you have five guys around below the top of the circles, it really limits the other team’s chances.  If the puck ends up going to the point, we really go out in the shooting lanes. We’re really trying not to give them much to shoot at.”

Said Fowler: “I think more teams in the league are collapsing down lower and giving up those point shots because we know that we can get in lanes and we can block and box forwards out in front.”

Sheldon Brookbank said the defensemen and forwards are cutting out high-risk plays.

“We just try to make short little passes,” he said. “Don’t try to make any Hail Mary plays. Keep the puck going, fight our battles and have numbers on the right side of the puck. It seems to be working lately. Hopefully we’ll keep that rolling.”

Boudreau said the little passes that the Ducks make are called “shares”. It is about players supporting each other.

“We’re bringing everybody back,” he said. ”You don’t need to make the long passes any more. Teams are too good now. They see it. They’re all like free safeties back there. They can step up and intercept them and when you intercept them in the middle of the ice, it’s already a scoring position for them.

“The shorter the pass, the easier the pass. And the easier the play, the less chance of a mistake. That’s what we’re trying to aim at.”

Fowler said he thinks the idea that Boudreau is all about attacking and pumping up the offense is a misnomer.

“Even though he had that perception that he was an offensive coach and he just kind of let the guys go, every coach in this league preaches defense because they know it’s the most important thing,” he said. “I think in Washington, you had a lot of guys that liked to play that style of hockey and I think maybe that’s why people had that idea.

“Since he’s come here, from day one he’s had that defensive mindset. But at the same time, he wants guys to be creative offensively. He doesn’t put any reins on you that way. He knows that we have guys that can make palys and can get creative with the puck. The main thing for him is being responsible defensively first.”

At the end of the day the biggest difference between Bruce Boudreau and Randy Carlyle is that the latter attempted to mold players to a cookie cutter system while the latter is trusting them to make the smart play.

Madprops@Ice for bringing this all home for us.

Anytime anybody has something you want specifically addressed on the blog you can email bradthrasher@hotmail.com or Tweet @SlashSkater. BTW, I’m in conversation with a guy who might step up and create improvements like a contact app for us. Touch wood and hope he says yeah.
  1. czhokej says:

    Good analysis. Educational.
    I understand the zone defense and individual coverage (man-to man), but to be frank I did not pay too much attention to Gabby’s approach (except the final score), and some of it is above my knowledge of hockey. What I see is a slow adaptation to different forechecking system and offensive strategy, and lately less confusion in our zone. However, we still make too many mistakes, including costly errors and blunders by our goalies.

  2. bbdux93 says:

    Some of this is a bit hard for me to absorb, but I’ve printed off the diagrams in the linked article and this helps greatly.

    Like CZ – I’m seeing our defensive zone improvements but not a lot in the O zone and that’s OK with me. It makes me a bit crazy to see two or three of our guys behind the net and no one in front. I think our D zone changes were the most important and hope the increased goal scoring indicates the coaching staff has turned it’s attention to fixing the offense.

    BC Thanks for the post it helps me to understand player positioning a little more. The difference will always remain having learned something from a book or having experienced it first hand. And no, I do not intend to try and learn this game “first hand”. 🙂

    • BackCheck says:

      Hmmm, on the diagrams you should always start from the puck and pay attention to the geometry. Identify the checker first, then pick out two support players and two zone coverage players positioned further back from the puck. Just as test, how many geometric shapes can see among the five skaters? The checker and the two support players will triangulate the puck carrier. Once trapped, the checker’s job is to create a loose puck for one the support players to pickup and turn back up ice.

      When studying diagrams, x & 0 stuff, always view it from the puck out. The position of the players will create the geometry for you. Trust me bb, if hockey was complicated Canadians wouldn’t play it 😉

  3. yougetoutwhatyouputin says:

    Great way in describing Gabby’s defensive style. I personally like this approach (especially for new squads, coaching style, etc…) for our Ducks as it builds on our strengths and works on your weaknesses. This type of zone defense typically works well with teams that are not strong defensively or the opposing teams are just too strong offensively. The bottom line is Gabby is working with what he has available…hope the troops continue to improve.

  4. czhokej says:

    I paid more attention to Boudreau’s system when we played the Flames. You are right bc, the geometry of the game improved a lot. Under Carlyle, I always thought we were off and I am glad he is gone.
    There is still one big problem remaining to be solved – inefficiency and inconsistency of our top line. It starts with Getz, losing the FOs, and taking the puck into tho corner or behind the goal. All three of them do it. They like passing the puck behind the goal line. Sometimes it looks like those guys think that the net has the opening on the other side. (Am I repeating myself?) It irritates me that Brian Hayward, being politically correct, praises Getz and his linemates for some nice plays. Like no criticism is allowed. I usually pick up on the negatives.
    However, I have noticed that Getz started to skate much faster (mystery?) and is much better defensively.

  5. czhokej says:

    My previous post was written during the game against the Oilers (between the first and the second period). Bobby Ryan and Perry just scored – Getz got the assists. I am sure Gabby is working to solve the flaws I mentioned above.

  6. Thanks for clearing that up. I was wondering about that too. An app would be great, good luck with that!

  7. tearingitup says:

    I enjoy reading all the posts. BB seems a very good replacement for the last system, and most of all it has been fun watching the guys win. Is it me …or does Getz have a little more jump theses days? Positioning is much better and the D is controlling the gap. I really am trying to stay positive

    • BackCheck says:

      It really is all about the gap, no? When the gap is too long, the defenders are spread too far apart. There’s no trap or triangulation and no out numbering the opposition at the puck. Conversely, the short gap, though dangerous and high risk, does work from the end zone face off dots to the end boards. Once you get the turnover and transition, teams tend to spread out out on the attack.
      If you fail to get the turnover though, the puck often winds up in the back of net as there is usually at least one attacker uncovered in a high percentage area around the net.
      Excellent point, tearingitup.

  8. czhokej says:

    You are right, “tear”, Getzy looks faster, smarter, better oriented in the game, helping the defense, and his forechecking improved too. But he is not a complete player yet. Last night he did not have a shot on goal (he simply refuses to shoot and he doesn’t want to move his big body into scoring positions). That and his poor FO% (last night only 18%!) limit the productivity of our top line.
    Nevertheless, I am enjoying all the progress we are making so far, including Hiller’s performances. Very few people noticed that Lydman also plays much better now.
    It seems to be that the players like Gabby’ coaching, he is much better communicator, and he is more analytical and perceptive than RC.
    If we can have a success against Vancouver, that would be a great achievement, and a proof of a favorable transition to Boudreau’s system.

  9. bbdux93 says:

    BC – Your Canadians comments had me ROTFLMAO – not sure Canadians will find it so funny. I have the print outs but not the time for geometry – but I do see more of it in the games now. Interesting the positioning with Gabby’s system seems to be far more effective than Rc’s style, same players – better results – Gotta Love it!

    I agree with CZ the top line needs to come out from behind the net more and Getz needs to improve his play. He’s got to stop with his no look passes – most do not connect with a Duck’s player.

  10. czhokej says:

    I apologize for commenting off the topic. It’s the first intermission in Vancouver (1-1 after 20 minutes). We were better team, we had more chances, during the first period. Fowler’s penalty was questionable (Burrows went down because of the lock on his stick), and immediately after, during our PK, the zebras overlooked interference against us.
    Before the game I wanted to write in spite of our standing and stats, that the Ducks have more talent and more skills. We may not win this one, but we are improving with every game.

  11. czhokej says:

    Second intermission – Vancouver – Ducks game (score 1-3, shots on goal 12-22!!!!!!!!). During the second period, the calls (or non-calls by the referees) were in our favor. Great chances on both sides, mostly even. Hiller looked very good. The speed of Blake and Cogliano is amazing and very effective. It’s a pleasure watching Koivu’s smart plays, contrasting with Getzy’s not so smart ones.
    Before the game I wanted to post that in order to win, we need 2 goals from our top line (BR scored) and total four goals, because the Nucks are going to score at least three.
    I try not to be excited, because for example we had 3-0 lead against the Flyers and lost the game. The score can change quickly, but we are playing good hockey.

    bc, are you OK?

  12. czhokej says:

    It’s almost embarrassing that I am the only one writing. Great game!

  13. bbdux93 says:

    Had management had the courage to do what should have been done at the end of last season this is how our team might have started this season. Maybe RC got his 3 yr extension because Murray knew what was likely to happen and did his friend a favor.

    Since the beginning of January I’ve seen a gradual improvement but wanted to reserve my hopes that it would last until after we’d played a better team. The guys are playing so much better with most of the improvements in the defensive zone. And, we finally have 3 scoring lines. The 4th line is doing their job eating up some minutes & bringing energy in a way that can be trusted.

    Really enjoyed the game.

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