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Monday, February 9, 2009

Puck Battles

Now that's what I call battling for the puck.

What the Edmonton Oilers need to start doing is winning those puck battles - along the boards, in open ice, in front of the net, or behind the net. With a little more intensity in game situations, the Oilers would avoid a lot of the problems they have right off the bat. If they attack the zone of movement (and I'm not suggesting a left-wing lock or puck-side attack here) depending on the team they're playing, they wouldn't be chasing the puck so much.


Problem: Detroit is a passing team that likes to set up the one-timer or the tip-in on-the-go during the offensive rush. The only time they really shoot from the point is if they can get a screen in front of the goalie.
Solution: This won't always work, but it will make Detroit's life a living hell - send two forecheckers in to flush out the puck, cover the passing lane for the other two and keep the defense fairly deep to cover the dump-ins. If all else fails, tie up the puck along the boards, instead of trying to ring it around the boards like some have tried ...

Problem: Minnesota has a short-handed chance that has promise. What do you do?
Solution: It doesn't matter that Sam Gagner is out of it and still in the offensive zone. Your numbers advantage on the PP means that you will attack the puck carrier head on because his passing options are limited. Standing pat with your stick waving around as if you were a NHL 09 video game character reveals the lack of intensity.

Sure, you can look at the example I gave about Minnesorta and you can say it was a nice pass and nice shot - but the real honest truth is that the Oilers were flat-footed on the powerplay. When you see a short-handed chance and the other team's individual players outworks your team's individual players, you have to commend them. But if two of the other team's individual players outworks your entire PP unit you have an accurate measure of their intensity, desire, and perhaps that's a good measure of how the Oilers coaching staff prepares them for these kinds of important situations.

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