Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Tyler Durden on Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:41 pm

offsides wrote:
MRandall25 wrote:
DelPen wrote:Whatever Philly is doing, copy it. It's a system that works. And it's not boring.


So you want to copy their system that's specifically built to beat our system and no one else's?

You want us to figure out how to beat ourselves?


I think thyey built a team to be able to beat a lot of other hockey teams, we just happen to be one of them.


When Holmgren blew up the team last offseason, there is no way he made those trades with only the Penguins in mind.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Penspal on Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:45 pm

Rather than ditch the system, couldn't they modify it "just a little"?

The "system", as I understand it, requires getting the puck out of the d-zone as quickly as possible. That was not always possible. Especiallywhen other teams had strong and/or shifty guys cycling the puck deep in the Pens zone. Breaking the Pens "system" was that simple. Get the puck deep on Martin/Michalek, hit, doubleteam loose pucks, score.
Changing some "D" M&M especially, woudl do wonders. Assuming the puck was going to get out in 7-8 seconds when other teams know you are trying to do that is hard. Especially when you have 2 guys who never really adjusted to doing it well. I think Despres is exactly the type of D who will enhance this. He's tough on wall, great skater and good passer. Once he matures (hopefully next season) he will help.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Henry Hank on Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:11 pm

I just don't get how you single out Martin and Michalek there. They aren't the only D getting scored on. They're no more to blame than Letang and Orpik are. It's interesting that the only D that were pluses pretty much were the guys that didn't play many minutes and didn't have to play against the top guys. Michalek actually was a +2 in the series. Like I've said recently, what seems more likely, that the entire top four forgot how to play D or the team's style of play isn't suited to strong defensive hockey.

I'm far from an X's and O's guy, but what I understand of Bylsma's hockey is that defensively the strategy is to get the puck out quickly, get the transition going, get the puck into the other team's zone, cycle, get pucks on net, and wear them out. The problem is what happens when they don't get the puck out, they just seem to do a lot of running around in their own end as a team, guys miss assignments (including forwards) and bad things happen.

The problems I see with the team are three folds. One, there's not enough D structure. Other teams seem to be able to do a masterful job of closing shooting lanes and pushing the Pens to the perimeter for low percentage shots. That was the theme of the 2010 Montreal series and Philly did a good job of locking down like that to protect leads. The Pens had no capability of doing that, their only style was to play "their game" regardless of the situation. Another issue is that for Bylsma's hockey to work, guys have to be playing smart, focused, disciplined hockey. Everyone has to be on board. One guy makes a mistake and everything starts to fall apart. How many times did you see a D, Letang and Martin in particular, get caught pinching with no one backing them up leading to a two-on-one or breakaway? Too many system breakdowns and as I discussed in another thread, I think a lot of that comes down to guys being allowed to get away with mistakes all season without consequence. Finally, as we've discussed a lot, no adjustment. It seems that in all areas, the Pens get figured out and they have no answer to it. Philly gets down early in games, they make in game adjustments, and they take over.

In other words, replacing the defensemen and playing the same way isn't likely to get you better results. This team needs more order and discipline. I think they need a system where D is the foundation rather than offense. As others have mentioned, it's probably not a coincidence that Bylsma had his most success when he inherited a team that was forced to be disciplined and play defensive hockey. He took that and opened it up a bit. Since then, other teams have scouted the Pens and figured out their tendencies and Bylsma has allowed a lot of that discipline to wear off.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby RxBandit66 on Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:22 pm

Great post HH and that about sums it up perfectly.

My question to you is, do you retain Bylsma and force him to make changes, or do you replace the entire coaching staff?

Personally, I think Bylsma has had plenty of time to make these adjustments and needs to be let go. ANY coach with a bit more structure and discipline would be a better fit IMO.

I just think that old habits die hard, and if this team wants to win again without blowing up the roster, they need to blow up the coaching staff.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby saints11 on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:11 pm

Granted, the Flyers might have been built to beat the Pens. So does that mean we are constructed to finish at least 2nd in the East? We were defeated by the physicality of the Flyers. From the top line down to the 4th line, from pairing 1 to pairing 3; they were more physical than we were. The reason Staal and Neal stood out was that they were the only true physical players we had. That might have been the reason why, even though he was slow a foot, Tangradi had a level of visibility in game 3. Their PP was more physical than our PK; we just never got the puck off of them until they found the open man, and we fished it out of the net.

We need to get younger, faster, and hungrier. The Flyer 3rd and 4th lines were made up of young kids, not older guys. We need to jettison some of our heretofore veteran guys and put in younger, physical guys who want to earn or grow into 1st and 2nd liners. We had nobody like that and that is where the games were won. The question becomes; do we have those type of guys. It isn't just putting Staal on Sid's wing; although I think that might help. It is a revamping of the bottom lines and the roles they play. It is the getting of a solid 3rd line/4th line center with some size and physicality (Gaustad as a FA?). It does not seem that we have those guys at W-B/S, so is it guys up from junior, Kuhnhackel, or a Bennett, or whomever? Do we move some of our depth Youthful "D" in the hopes of securing a potential wing?

All in all, it makes for an interesting; all be it too soon, off-season. And, does this phrase still ring true, "IN SHERO WE TRUST"?
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby malksby8771 on Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:20 pm

This thread +1000. The "Big Three, Who goes?" Thread, -877111.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby IntangibleBeer on Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:09 pm

malksby8771 wrote:This thread +1000. The "Big Three, Who goes?" Thread, -877111.


Why the fixation on who in the Big Three goes? I don't care what the thread count is, that's just nuts! :scared:
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby pcm on Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:43 pm

Blysma's system is based on slanting the ice towards the opposition net. Imagine the rink on a fulcrum at center ice. The problem comes when team's quickly flop the ice back towards the Pens side: havoc ensues.

I don't think the Pens need a new system so much as an ability to adjust their play from being weighted so heavily towards the offensive side. Let's say their target "weight" has been 70% in the offensive zone. That's fine at times, but when the game dictates a more defensive system, they need to be able to adjust that to 60% or 40% or 25%... and vice versa, when down they should be able to crank it up to 80% etc. Now what does that mean for the players on ice? Maybe at 50% they only send 1 forechecker in... Below 50% they don't go below the circles... and so on.

Blysma's system doesn't work in the playoffs as constructed. He needs to teach this team how to play more ways than one, specifically starting with defensively-structured hockey. Sure, some personnel moves will happen. I think Shero needs to ditch his "backfill with veterans" philosophy. Teams are winning with rookies playing significant roles. Leave those spots open for competition.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby offsides on Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:49 pm

pcm wrote:Blysma's system is based on slanting the ice towards the opposition net. Imagine the rink on a fulcrum at center ice. The problem comes when team's quickly flop the ice back towards the Pens side: havoc ensues.

I don't think the Pens need a new system so much as an ability to adjust their play from being weighted so heavily towards the offensive side. Let's say their target "weight" has been 70% in the offensive zone. That's fine at times, but when the game dictates a more defensive system, they need to be able to adjust that to 60% or 40% or 25%... and vice versa, when down they should be able to crank it up to 80% etc. Now what does that mean for the players on ice? Maybe at 50% they only send 1 forechecker in... Below 50% they don't go below the circles... and so on.

Blysma's system doesn't work in the playoffs as constructed. He needs to teach this team how to play more ways than one, specifically starting with defensively-structured hockey. Sure, some personnel moves will happen. I think Shero needs to ditch his "backfill with veterans" philosophy. Teams are winning with rookies playing significant roles. Leave those spots open for competition.


I agree with that, but will DB be able or even want to to do it? He has had a while to try but I have seen no changes.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Jesse on Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:02 pm

RxBandit66 wrote:
mikey287 wrote:What is it about this system that you don't like? What is your idea for a new system?


1) Ditch the three center model, put Staal in the top 6 and leave him there.
- The team won the cup with the 3 center model.
2) Roll 4 lines.
They roll 4 lines fairly regularly, less so this series because of the circumstances.
3) Trap more often, especially with lines 3 and 4.
No coach in the NHL runs two lines differently than all the others. It doesn't make sense. You can't have half the team practicing one way and the other half practicing the other.
4) Replace Adams, Asham, Cooke, and one of the veteran defensemen (not named Letang) with younger, faster players.
Harder than it sounds.
5) Sign a dependable backup goaltender and cut Fleury's workload by at least 10 games.'
Agree entirely.
6) Go with an umbrella power play that shoots the puck frequently.
They're running a variation of an umbrella right now.
7) Abandon the obsession with the forecheck and focus instead on creating turnovers in the neutral zone.
They run a 1-2-2 swing, the entire idea behind that system is creating turnovers in the neutral zone. No team in the NHL would be successful by abandoning the forecheck.
8) Leave the rest of the players intact.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Rylan on Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:29 pm

Thanks for that Jesse. Would love to learn more about the 1-2-2
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby yubb on Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:34 am

1) I don't think you can blame the defense for this series.
2) I don't think you can blame the system.

Parts of both 1 and 2 were problematic, for sure. However, you can't blame just the defense or system when we didn't play fundamentally good hockey. Ex. 1. Lovejoy passing cross ice at his own blue line, turnover, goal Philly. Ex. 2. Dupuis gaining the red line and instead of getting the puck deep, behind the net, gets it to the top of the faceoff circle. Philly quickly passes up ice, goal. Those two mistakes happened time and time again. Regardless of what system is in place, or who your defensemen are, if you make those mistakes you're going to have a hard time winning.

So for me, the question isn't of the system or the defense, but why did the players continually play bad hockey? Has Bylsma lost control of the team or the respect of the players? Hard to think so given our success during the regular season. But maybe he's not a playoff calibre coach.

I don't think huge, sweeping changes are in order. Maybe you move a player or two. Maybe Bylsma gets replaced. But to entertain ideas of trading Staal, Malkin, the pucks, the puck bag, coaching staff and Iceburg for a Top D man and 100 prospects seems a bit "aggressive" at this point.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby sil on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:36 am

Henry Hank wrote:I just don't get how you single out Martin and Michalek there. They aren't the only D getting scored on. They're no more to blame than Letang and Orpik are. It's interesting that the only D that were pluses pretty much were the guys that didn't play many minutes and didn't have to play against the top guys. Michalek actually was a +2 in the series. Like I've said recently, what seems more likely, that the entire top four forgot how to play D or the team's style of play isn't suited to strong defensive hockey.

I'm far from an X's and O's guy, but what I understand of Bylsma's hockey is that defensively the strategy is to get the puck out quickly, get the transition going, get the puck into the other team's zone, cycle, get pucks on net, and wear them out. The problem is what happens when they don't get the puck out, they just seem to do a lot of running around in their own end as a team, guys miss assignments (including forwards) and bad things happen.

The problems I see with the team are three folds. One, there's not enough D structure. Other teams seem to be able to do a masterful job of closing shooting lanes and pushing the Pens to the perimeter for low percentage shots. That was the theme of the 2010 Montreal series and Philly did a good job of locking down like that to protect leads. The Pens had no capability of doing that, their only style was to play "their game" regardless of the situation. Another issue is that for Bylsma's hockey to work, guys have to be playing smart, focused, disciplined hockey. Everyone has to be on board. One guy makes a mistake and everything starts to fall apart. How many times did you see a D, Letang and Martin in particular, get caught pinching with no one backing them up leading to a two-on-one or breakaway? Too many system breakdowns and as I discussed in another thread, I think a lot of that comes down to guys being allowed to get away with mistakes all season without consequence. Finally, as we've discussed a lot, no adjustment. It seems that in all areas, the Pens get figured out and they have no answer to it. Philly gets down early in games, they make in game adjustments, and they take over.

In other words, replacing the defensemen and playing the same way isn't likely to get you better results. This team needs more order and discipline. I think they need a system where D is the foundation rather than offense. As others have mentioned, it's probably not a coincidence that Bylsma had his most success when he inherited a team that was forced to be disciplined and play defensive hockey. He took that and opened it up a bit. Since then, other teams have scouted the Pens and figured out their tendencies and Bylsma has allowed a lot of that discipline to wear off.


Very good read overall HH. Regarding your assertation about Bylsma's success coming from inhereting a defensive system...consider also the success he had coaching a team that DIDN'T play the quick transition and neutral zone game in 2010-11 when Crosby, Malkin, and Staal played all of two games together. The team was basically forced to work harder in both ends, and trap the opponent. The result was tighter defensive hockey, and if I recall, Martin, Michalek, and Orpik didn't look so lost out there.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Desiato on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:37 am

I believe "the system" is fundamentally sound, but it has some significant flaws as implemented:

- it's easily predictable; even to a casual fan.
- it's not adaptive; execute or die.
- it's very aggressive, which combined with the predictability makes it extremely vulnerable to reactive/counterattack strategies as employed by teams successful against the Penguins.
- it fatigues the players faster than their opponents when it's not working, contributing to the downward spiral we continuously witnessed against the Flyers.
- it fails to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.

Both the Lightning and Flyers learned a lot from how the Habs beat us. Remember how awesome Cammallari looked against us? The Pens made him look much better than he actually is. It was a reactive strategy that the Pens stubbornly beat their proverbial heads against over and over again.

To me, these are all failings of the coaching staff. Most of the way the Pens have played is effective most of the time. But no system is perfect, and when flaws are exploited, the Pens are always slow to adjust. It seems that, to the staff, when the Pens aren't winning, it's always because the players didn't "execute". What was that about accountability again?
Last edited by Desiato on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby yubb on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:43 am

The Pens, for as long as I can remember, have not adapted well.

Since the series against Florida in... 1998? Florida kept standing us up at the blue line; we refused to dump and chase. In the past three post seasons, as well, you can see that we didn't adapt.

So again, the system may not be the total cause of the problem. It seems the Penguins' MO may be the underlying problem. Kinda like how the Steelers will run the ball right up the gut 1 million times in a row on the goal line. God I hate football.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Penspal on Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:12 am

Flyers blocked a ton of shots in game 6, something they did not do in their two losses. How did the Pens fare in shot blocking? Well I know that M & M did not fare that well. Why did I not pick on the other "d"? Simply put....At least they did something. Orpik hit and was vocal (and not wrong), Letang actually moved the puck and scored. Nisky was above average and playing hurt. Engellend did not have a great playoff, he had some good hits early on, but was... tentative (other than for sticking up once and getting booted). I'm not going to blame this on Despres/Strait, effectively rookie callups. The defence needs some change, so M&M are the most likely suspects, especially at what they are getting paid (makes changing them difficult). Engy too, but his salary is very cap friendly.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby RxBandit66 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:32 am

The Flyers blocked 40 shots during the series. The Pens blocked 14.

The playoffs are all about sacrifice. Once upon a coach, the Pens used to be willing to sacrifice.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby bh on Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:05 pm

What is interesting in these playoffs this year is that the offensive-minded puck possesion teams are all losing.
The Pens, Wings, Sharks, Blackhawks, Canucks are all out. The defense first, good goalie teams are winning this year (Maybe with the exception of Philly).

Everyone has analyzed this series loss a billion times already, but mental mistakes, bad goaltending, and a lack of commitment to defense loss this series. Can HCDB make the players play a better defensive game? Can he keep the players more focused? I don't know. He's had three chances and has failed. I feel it's time to move on.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby bh on Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:07 pm

yubb wrote:Since the series against Florida in... 1998? Florida kept standing us up at the blue line; we refused to dump and chase. In the past three post seasons, as well, you can see that we didn't adapt.
I belive it was 1996.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby yubb on Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:20 am

bh wrote:
yubb wrote:Since the series against Florida in... 1998? Florida kept standing us up at the blue line; we refused to dump and chase. In the past three post seasons, as well, you can see that we didn't adapt.
I belive it was 1996.


It was '96, as they mentioned that during the Fla/NJ game at least three times last night.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby RxBandit66 on Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:07 am

If they are going to keep the same system, I'd suggest they do the following:

1) Add speed. Ditch a few of the old slow guys (Adams is not only slow but he loses every stinking faceoff, and faceoffs are keys to a puck possession style of play). I really like Cooke and Kunitz, but they were exploited badly by Philly's younger, faster forwards. Same with Asham. You can keep a few guys like that, but there are way too many slow players, and they are all into their mid 30's by now.

2) Get a reliable backup goaltender who can move the puck quickly and push Fleury for playing time. Fleury has played lousy in three straight post seasons, and he certainly does himself no favors when he plays the puck behind the goal.

3) Do WHATEVER it takes to prevent shorthanded goals. The power play looked good on paper, but it gave up SHGs at the worst possible times, and it never scored when it needed to (like in game 1 and 2 they had the opportunity to go up 4-0 and 4-1 and the power play did not get a sniff)

4) Get more out of Kennedy. He is one of the few shooters on the team. He is one of the few righties on the team. He is one of the fastest skaters on the team. Give that kid EVERY opportunity to work himself into the top 6. The refusal to put him on the power play AT ALL this season was baffling, considering he led the NHL in power play goals during the second half of last season.

5) Rather than chasing the puck and skating after players who have the puck, obstruct more. It is no coincidence that all the puck possession teams have been eliminated in round 1. "Trapping" teams are having a field day, as the league is reverting back to the rodeo that it was before the lockout.

6) Add speed.

7) Did I mention adding speed?
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby DelPen on Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:33 pm

Kennedy only lead in the PP goals because of injuries. Kennedy is only top 6 on a bad team. I see a bright future for him in Columbus or Edmonton.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby offsides on Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:37 pm

DelPen wrote:Kennedy only lead in the PP goals because of injuries. Kennedy is only top 6 on a bad team. I see a bright future for him in Columbus or Edmonton.


Yep..................
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby It'sagreatdayforhockey! on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:05 pm

DelPen wrote:Kennedy only lead in the PP goals because of injuries. Kennedy is only top 6 on a bad team. I see a bright future for him in Columbus or Edmonton.


Disagree. He can be a top 6 on a lot of teams. Just not any with 2 elite centers.


Shame to, because one of the big things the pens are in need of is a top 6 winger who is right handed, has speed and is a power play specialist. Basically a Kennedy-Sullivan hybrid.
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Re: Keep the Core Players, Ditch the System

Postby Sarcastic on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:37 pm

Tyler Durden wrote:When Holmgren blew up the team last offseason, there is no way he made those trades with only the Penguins in mind.


Flyers acknowledged they build their team to beat ours, knowing they had to go through us to get to the finals.
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