headh wrote:why is "driving the net" or "establishing a net front" presence so universally sited as an essential component to winning the cup yet mentioned equally often as a shortcoming of the Pens' roster? If we all know they need to create traffic why don't the Penguins know it? If the Pens know it then why don't the players who were brought in to fill that role simply go to the net?
What the heck is going on out there?
Timing and structure must be proper for efficient execution.
Coaching strategy has evolved from a chip n' chase cycling offense (see: 2008, 2009) to a more free-wheeling, free-flowing, sometimes criss-crossing offensively creative structure that doesn't attack with numbers, but attacks with skill. Note the use of shooters on their off-wing to maximize shots from the middle areas of the ice (Neal on RW, Iginla on LW, Dupuis on RW). Wingers are primed as shooters, center lane drive is the responsibility of the LW with a LHS (further misuse of Iginla, though historically, Malkin's line has usually been configured differently than all other lines it seems) to pull a defenseman back with him to the net, open up time and space for creative center and off-wing shooting winger.
Against Boston it failed, as we were out-manned at the point of attack before reinforcements could arrive. Stretch passing into a layered defense is a self-divide-and-conquer strategy that worked to the Bruins advantage who constantly out-numbered us in the offensive zone. The reason why we were so successful against Boston and New York in the past was because we could sustain attack time against a collapsing defense. Rangers have never adjusted to this (will under new coach Alain Vigneault, who will attack you back) and thus our dominance of them. Boston coaches made adjustments to attack slightly higher while still allowing the long pass. They felt confident enough in their ability defensively to handle us 2 on 3 or 2 on 4 (I like those odds as a defensive-minded coach myself), they allowed us to separate ourselves from each other and the puck and then just easily finished off the job.
More points to touch on certainly, but this is a fairly good start.