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#81 pi2000

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 06:34 PM

Flagg, what's the significance of "unblocked" shots vs all shot attempts?   Wouldn't total shot attempts give a better idea of where teams are attacking from?   Likewise with shot attempts against?   



#82 We've

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 06:35 PM

This is a thread about Lindy, right?



#83 Randall Flagg

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 06:57 PM

Flagg, what's the significance of "unblocked" shots vs all shot attempts?   Wouldn't total shot attempts give a better idea of where teams are attacking from?   Likewise with shot attempts against?   

Unfortunately, I'm not the guy to answer this. I have an incredibly basic understanding of advanced stats and their evolution. I just like pretty charts.



#84 3putt

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 08:45 PM

Unfortunately, I'm not the guy to answer this. I have an incredibly basic understanding of advanced stats and their evolution. I just like pretty charts.

I knew it.  I take back any nice things I said about you.   :beer: 



#85 inkman

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 10:39 PM

This is a thread about Lindy, right?

:lol:

#86 dudacek

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 02:56 AM

I mentioned in the other thread that the heat maps are fun....

teamShotLoc-1617-BUF-def.png aga
This chart of shots against shows that we are pretty good at clearing the crease and not allowing guys in there with control, which honestly surprises me a little bit, because I often picture Risto and McCabe and Bogosian being soft on guys there. Maybe they're actually better than average at it. There's a slight hole in the mid/high slot, but it isn't terrible, and the rest of the slot is largely clogged up. Teams take many point shots on us, perhaps because it's all they can do to generate consistent chances, perhaps because they know Lehner kicks out rebounds.

This is very cool stuff. All of it.

I wanted to highlight this one because it ties in very much to an article I read about the Terry Murray defence and how his coaching of it was key to Kings winning the cup after he left. The gist was that the majority of goals are scored inside a box with corners that roughly parallel the dark blue spots in the chart. Murray's philosophy was to make it a priority for his defenders to box out and protect that section of the ice.

The chart sure seems to reflect that strategy. It may also explain why the coaching staff tends to give weight to certain players. For all his many flaws, Josh Gorges could box out rather well. For all his positives, Mark Pysyk could not.

God, hockey needs some analysts who can break down the pluses and minuses of this kind of strategy as well as the types of players who should and should not thrive in certain systems. There are real skill set/usage reasons beyond the trite "effort" and "favouritism" why some players click with some coaches and not with others.

Edited by dudacek, 11 February 2017 - 02:58 AM.


#87 pi2000

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 10:43 AM

This is very cool stuff. All of it.

I wanted to highlight this one because it ties in very much to an article I read about the Terry Murray defence and how his coaching of it was key to Kings winning the cup after he left. The gist was that the majority of goals are scored inside a box with corners that roughly parallel the dark blue spots in the chart. Murray's philosophy was to make it a priority for his defenders to box out and protect that section of the ice.

The chart sure seems to reflect that strategy. It may also explain why the coaching staff tends to give weight to certain players. For all his many flaws, Josh Gorges could box out rather well. For all his positives, Mark Pysyk could not.

God, hockey needs some analysts who can break down the pluses and minuses of this kind of strategy as well as the types of players who should and should not thrive in certain systems. There are real skill set/usage reasons beyond the trite "effort" and "favouritism" why some players click with some coaches and not with others.


I agree, but those Kings teams also gave up very few shots in general. BUF gives up the most shots in the league.

#88 TrueBlueGED

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 12:00 PM

The chart sure seems to reflect that strategy. It may also explain why the coaching staff tends to give weight to certain players. For all his many flaws, Josh Gorges could box out rather well. For all his positives, Mark Pysyk could not.

God, hockey needs some analysts who can break down the pluses and minuses of this kind of strategy as well as the types of players who should and should not thrive in certain systems. There are real skill set/usage reasons beyond the trite "effort" and "favouritism" why some players click with some coaches and not with others.

 

I can't put into words what I would give for this. Unfortunately, it's way easier to just show up to a broadcast and scream "MOMENTUM" 50 different times and 35 different ways.

 

 

I agree, but those Kings teams also gave up very few shots in general. BUF gives up the most shots in the league.

 

*Insert grumbling about Bylsma's breakout/puck-movement and zone entry/forecheck strategies here*


Edited by TrueBlueGED, 11 February 2017 - 12:01 PM.


#89 Mig22

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 12:29 PM

I can't put into words what I would give for this. Unfortunately, it's way easier to just show up to a broadcast and scream "MOMENTUM" 50 different times and 35 different ways.

 

Yes, this.  And "Gotta Simplify".  



#90 Eleven

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 01:21 PM

This is a thread about Lindy, right?

 

It can be...



#91 JJFIVEOH

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 02:39 PM

At what point does strategy and analysis become so complicated for the player that they can no longer concentrate on their impact on the actual game? There is some level of criticism for almost every player out there, maybe they aren't excelling because they're too busy focused on doing the wrong thing. People sitting behind a computer can't decipher this stuff, what makes anybody think a player can make snap decisions based on countless advanced scenarios?



#92 nfreeman

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 12:32 AM

This is some high-quality hockey talk here boys.



#93 Sabres Fan In NS

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 12:08 PM

It could mean they are bad at blocking, and it could mean that teams funnel their offense so much more through the point against us than other times because of other factors, or a combination. Certainly needs some dedicated watchers and other stats to get a full picture, but I'm having fun.

 

I have to say that you are really bringing it lately.

 

I also have to say that those graphics remind me of an acid trip man.



#94 bob_sauve28

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:02 PM

They are not following the system

#95 Randall Flagg

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 12:11 PM

Buffalo Sabres at Arizona Coyotes, 2/26/17

Alright, so here are the results of my zone entry calculations. I may have missed 2 or 3 of them throughout the game, but this information is 95% accurate at least. I could not do Arizona's entries and maintain that accuracy, so I didn't. I define a pass play entry as one where the pass was received within about 5 feet of the blue line on either side. I didn't count plays that were clears of our zone into the NZ or plays that didn't come within 5 feet of their blue line. I didn't count PK or PP entries either. There were some interesting things to look at. 

As a team, the Sabres dumped or chipped the puck in 25 times. 9 of these times resulted in a successful retrieval, some of which were direct retrievals, some of which involved the other team getting the puck right away but the Sabres forcing a turnover and keeping the zone because of that. This is a 36% success rate. 

Of those 25 dump/chips, I counted two of them as done for the sole purpose of getting players changed. This happens more often, IMO, when we play teams that are good and hem us in, but the Coyotes aren't very good. 

8 of those dump/chips were done because of a squeeze out in the NZ, with no other option but to get rid of it. only 2 of those were recovered. Of the remaining 15 dump/chips, the ones done by choice, there were 7 successful recoveries. 3 of them came from the 4 times a defenseman chose to dump, interestingly enough. 

 

Now, to the carry-ins. The Sabres had a player carry the puck in the zone 31 times. Defining a successful entry as one that results in a play to maintain possession or take a shot on goal, they were successful 21 times (6 direct SOG, 15 plays to maintain possession). This is a 67% success rate. Both goals came off of an Eichel carry - one from a direct SOG, one from maintaining possession on that 4 on 2. 

 

And, the pass plays. The Sabres made a pass to enter the zone 24 times. Of these 24 entries, 16 were successful, or 67%. 

 

Now some breakdown by players/lines:
 

Eichel: Jack dumped the puck in ZERO times. He carried 10 times, took 4 shots, made 4 successful passes, for an 80% zone entry rate. One shot and one pass resulted in a goal. 
Reinhart: Sam dumped the puck in 2 times, both by choice with other options available, and was successful 1 of those times. He attempted 2 carry-ins, and lost the puck both times. 1/4*100 = 25% success rate. Good thing he had Jack to defer to. Also, this guy should be playing center.

Kane: Evander did not dump or chip the puck in at all. He carried 5 times and was successful 3 times with a pass and 1 time with a shot, for a success rate of 80%, with half of the attempts of Eichel. 
This line: The second line of 9-15-23 attempted 6 pass plays to enter the zone and was successful 4 times, for a 67% success rate. In total, they attempted to enter the zone 25 times and only had 8 failures, so they entered the zone with 68% success. They dumped 2 times, and carried or passed 23 times.

 

O'Reilly: Ryan dumped the puck in 4 times, 3 of them by choice. His only successful attempt was by choice, and so he was successful 25% of the time with this. He tried 1 carry in and made a successful possession play. 

Okposo: Kyle dumped the puck in 1 time, he was pressed with no support or options, and they did not recover the puck. He had 1 successful carry and 1 failed carry. 33% success rate.

Bailey: Justin dumped the puck in 4 times, all 4 attempts failed, though 3 of them were due to being squeezed out in the neutral zone with no options. He had 1 successful carry in and 1 failed carry in.

This line: The first line of 56-90-21 attempted 7 pass plays to enter the zone. They were only successful 2 of them. It was funny - the two successful pass entries didn't happen until about 3 minutes left in the game, every single line was doing well with them and then this one started out 0 for 5. In total they made 21 attempts to enter the zone and were successful 6 of them, for a success rate of only 29%. They were 1 for 9 dumping and chipping, 3 for 5 carrying.

 

Foligno: Marcus carried the puck in once and was successful. No dumps.

Girgensons: Zemgus dumped it in once to change, it wasn't picked up by us (bc we were changing). He had 3 carry attempts and all were successful, 1 with a direct SOG and 2 with successful passes. 
Gionta: Brian dumped the puck in 3 times, twice by choice. 1 of those were successful, 33% success rate. He carried the puck in 1 time and lost it. 25% success rate overall.
This line: The third line passed the puck into the zone a total of 6 times and were successful 5 of them. In total, the line entered the zone 15 times, and were successful 10 of them, 67% success rate. They were 1 for 4 on dumps.

 

Rodrigues: Evan dumped the puck in 2 times, both by choice, and was successful 1 of them. He also had a successful carry-in. 66% success rate.

Ennis: Tyler dumped the puck in 2 times, failed once (the time he wasn't pressed) and successful when he had no other choice. He had 1 failed zone entry via carry-in.
Moulson: Matt did nothing to enter the zone on his own.

This line: The fourth line entered the zone via pass 5 times and were successful all 5 times. Their total success rate was thus 8/11*100 = 73%.

 

The team as a whole made 4 stretch pass attempts that went for an icing. The defense group had 6 dump-ins, 4 were successful. Rasmus had a successful carry-in, Kulikov had a failed carry-in. The defense as a whole was thus 5/8 for 63% at entering the zone. 

 

This confirms my eye-test that we were pretty good at getting in the zone, though line 1 needs to be shaken up, eh? Bad teams can't handle us. I can't wait to do these numbers when we play a team that's really good. 

 



#96 Randall Flagg

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 12:37 PM

Nashville Predators at Buffalo Sabres, 2/28/17

As a team, the Buffalo Sabres attempted to enter the offensive zone via a dump/chip 30 times. Of these 30 attempts, 23 were by choice with other options available. 10 of these 23 were successful, and the 7 dumps that were to change or because of no support were all unsuccessful, so as a whole they succeeded 10/30 times, for 30%. Last game the defensemen dumped 4 times and were successful 3 of them, this time they dumped 9 times and were only successful 1 time.

 

As a team, the Buffalo Sabres carried the puck into the zone 21 times. This is down 10 attempts from Arizona (and the dump ins were up 5 attempts). They were successful 16 of these 21 attempts, a 76% success rate. 

 

The Sabres attempted 15 pass plays to enter the zone, and were successful 10 of them, for a 67% success rate. 

Last game they attempted 4 stretch passes and 3 of them were broken up or iced. This game, they attempted 13 of them and were only successful 1 time, the other 12 either broken up immediately or called back on icing. 

 

The Sabres made 84 total plays to enter the zone against Arizona counting those stretch passes, and that number decreased to 79 against Nashville, while D&C and stretch passes increased, meaning they attempted controlled entries much fewer times (46% of all attempts versus 65% of all attempts versus Arizona). 

 

Now some breakdown by players/lines:
 

Eichel: Jack dumped the puck in ZERO times, again. He carried 6 times, making 5 successful passes, for an 83% zone entry success rate. 
Kane: Evander did not dump or chip the puck in against Arizona, but last night he did 5 times, 3 with no other option and 2 by choice. Only one of his dump-ins was successful. Nashville ain't scared of Evander. He carried only 1 time and lost the puck. 17% success.

Gionta: Brian dumped the puck in 2 times,once by choice. 1 of those was successful. He carried the puck in 3 times and lost it twice, though his success is what led to a goal (that 2 on 1 with Kane). 
This line: The second line of 9-15-12 attempted 5 pass plays to enter the zone and was successful 3 times, for a 60% success rate. In total, they attempted to enter the zone 21 times and were successful 11 times, 52%. 

 

O'Reilly: Ryan dumped the puck in 2 times, 1 of them by choice. His only successful attempt was by choice, and it led to a goal. He did not carry the puck in.

Okposo: Kyle dumped the puck in 4 times, all by choice, and was successful once.. He had 2 successful carries.

Bailey: Justin dumped the puck in 2 times and both led to a successful recovery.

This line: The first line of 56-90-21 attempted 4 pass plays to enter the zone. They were successful for 3 of them. In total this line attempted to enter the zone 14 times, down 7 from last game, though their success rate went up this game to 64%.

 

Foligno: Marcus dumped the puck in twice by choice, one of them was recovered. He made no carries.

Rodrigues: I counted no zone entries for Rodrigues, because Sam was on his line probably. I don't think they got a huge amount of ES ice time.

Reinhart: Sam dumped the puck in 2 times, and was successful 1 of those times, the one he did by choice. He attempted 4 carry-ins, and was successful all 4 times this game, twice taking a direct SOG and twice making a successful pass. His total zone entry success rate was also 83%.

This line: The third line passed the puck into the zone a total of 3 times and were successful 1 of them. In total, the line entered the zone 11 times, and were successful 7 of them, 64% success rate. 

 

Girgensons: Zemgus did not dump the puck. He had 2 carry attempts and both were successful.

Ennis: Tyler dumped the puck in 2 times, failed once. He had 1 failed zone entry via carry-in.
Moulson: Matt did nothing to enter the zone on his own, again.

This line: The fourth line entered the zone via pass 3 times and were successful all 3 times. Their total success rate was 75%.

 

The forwards weren't terrible at entering the zone...the team's failures came from their abysmal stretch pass record (again, 1 successful stretch pass out of 13 attempts). The defensemen weren't good either - like I mentioned they were 1 for 9 dumping, though Risto and McCabe each had a successful carry. 

 

You can tell we played a team that is better than the Coyotes last night.



#97 WildCard

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 12:43 PM

That Moulson line though :lol:



#98 Randall Flagg

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 11:26 PM

Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres, 2/28/17

As a team, the Buffalo Sabres attempted to enter the offensive zone via a dump/chip 30 times. Of these 30 attempts, 24 were by choice with other options available. 9 of these 24 were successful, and 3 of the 6 dumps that were to change or because of no support were successful, so as a whole they succeeded 12/30 times, for 40%. The defensemen dumped 15 of these times, much higher than the previous two games, they were successful 6 of them. This game was particularly infuriating early on. In the first period we had 7 failed dumps and 1 successful one, 4 failed stretches and 1 successful one, and were 7 for 7 entering the zone with a carry or with a pass play. They weren't skating, they weren't giving each other support, just doing what they do, not carrying/passing nearly enough even though it was clearly the best thing to do.

 

As a team, the Buffalo Sabres carried the puck into the zone 14 times, down 17 times from Arizona and 7 times from Nashville. They were successful 12 of these 14 attempts, an 86% success rate. Most of these carries had more of the same lack of puck support and wingers just staring from oblivion waiting for a chip like we've seen 140 times the past two years and it was STILL incredibly effective. 

 

The Sabres attempted 20 pass plays to enter the zone, and were successful 17 of them, for an 85% success rate. 

 

In Arizona they attempted 4 stretch passes and 3 of them were broken up or iced. Against Nashville, they attempted 13 of them and were only successful 1 time, the other 12 either broken up immediately or called back on icing. Tonight they attempted 15 stretch passes and were successful 2 times, 13% success rate.

 

PUCK SUPPORT AND POSSESSION FOR ######'S SAKE YOU ###### LOSER ###### ######

 

The Sabres attempted to enter the zone at even strength 79 times. 34 of these entries were possession entries, or 43%. These were successful 29/34*100=85% of the time. Of the 57% of the time they chipped and stretched, they were successful 14 times, 31%. Go teeeeeeeeeeam. They still don't give any ###### support to any player. If you freeze frame when we have the puck, there are almost never any options! and when you do the same for other teams you see them making decisions that haven't even entered the realm of possibility for our players over the past two seasons! They're playing a game on a different planet from everyone else! 

 

I don't have the energy to do individual player breakdowns tonight. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Just the defensemen dumping a lot more than usual, always by choice with other options (that I wouldn't call puck support because the options were always the wingers standing still at the blue line, defenders having skated from their own zone because they didn't feel like those garbage stretch passes anymore) 



#99 WildCard

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 11:33 PM

I can't tell you how much I enjoy these breakdowns Flagg, it's so nice to have statistical vindication for my hatred of Bylsma



#100 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:04 PM

I'm going to do one final massive post that sums up everything that I've complained about during the past 5 months. I hope to pull everything together nicely.

 

I was sitting in the dining hall of the school that is now in my past, watching my friend's mouth drop as they looked over my shoulder at the television in the corner. A joke concerning Carey Price's absence from practice because of the flu (it was totally jock itch) had just left my lips. I turned around to see what was up, expecting a new fun exciting Trump comment or something, and almost got sick, because I was watching Jack Eichel writhe around on the ice at FNC, unable to put any weight on his ankle. Every bit of excitement I felt for the upcoming season was drained. People I barely knew were offering condolences. (I was known there as the ridiculously intense Sabres fan.)

 

Our team played the next night, and looked as shell-shocked as we all felt. I wasn't about to blame them for it, though some posters were pretty upset at Dan for allowing the pessimism to seep into their play. Things were looking alright again after we got Okposo and ROR back in time for game #2, a thorough beatdown of the Oilers. The four weeks after that, however, were as miserable a time as a Sabres fan I've ever had.

 

I learned what the 1-2-2 forecheck was, because I watched us pull forecheckers to sit back into it as soon as we gained a lead. It didn't matter how much time was left. Analysts, posters, and the coach himself explained that without our star, we were going to have to be a cautious, conservative team if we had any chance of winning. The skill simply wasn't there to play a risk-oriented game. I was put off by this - we had just added a winger who had recorded more points last season than Jack himself, and he was playing. We upgraded the left side of our defense with a puck mover advertised as having incredibly smooth skating and a good first pass. He's been injured on and off, but he's still playing games. Well, let's see where this goes.

 

We won four of our next fifteen games, scoring fifteen or so even strength goals during that stretch. Six wins in nineteen before Jack comes back. Our even strength goal scoring rate was worse than both tank teams for almost all of the 21 games without Jack Eichel, and it finished sandwiched between the tank teams when he came back for Ottawa. It was the only way we could win. It got us 7 wins in 21 games. It was the driest hockey I've ever seen in my life. Dan said himself how important drawing penalties and scoring on the power play was going to be for us during that time. What a brilliant strategy - in an era where scoring is down and holding/interference are creeping back into the game, let's make the power play the only possible way to win unless Lehner stops 40 and allows only one goal. A lot of people have forgotten how much of a drag the start of the season was. A lot of the people joining me in my criticism of our conservative play now say that Jack's injury was the main cause. It wasn't. At the time we had seven players that had either scored 20 goals the season before or were pacing for it this year (that addendum is for Brian Gionta, who spent much of this season as our leading even strength producer, not only in raw numbers but in points per sixty minutes). The tank seasons had somewhere between zero and two of those players. I'm not looking up the details. I've done far more comparisons between now and then than I ever should have had to. For the information I will be presenting later on in this post, I went back and re-watched condensed 7 minute highlight videos of every single game this season. It routinely felt like we were never, ever going to score a goal. We never had the puck in high danger areas, we never had the puck at all.

 

I was ready to fire Bylsma for how he handled the stretch without Jack by itself. 33% winning percentage was unacceptable to me, and nowhere close to what I believe they should have been able to accomplish. When I heard him say that we can finally get to the way we are supposed to play, with bum-ankle Jack back in the fold, I wanted to pull my hair out.

 

The system didn't change all that much. We added a center that does what he wants with the puck because he can, and so 1 in every 4 shifts saw some change. We didn't pull forecheckers and drop into the 1-2-2 until we were a.) up by 2 goals or b.) in the third with any sort of lead.

 

The system. I started trying my best to analyze it early on this thread. I have posts about it in a few of the GDTs, too. What does Dan Bylsma like? In his own words - fast, grinding hockey. The puck goes from our zone to theirs in the blink of an eye, faster than they can handle. The toughest play for an opposing defenseman? To have to turn around and get the puck, especially with the roaring forecheck we were going to employ. (This forecheck was largely absent during our 1-2-2 days pre-Eichel, aside from some Kane after he came back. chip 'n chase with no real forecheck, you may as well just be killing penalties. Give the puck back and wait for the onslaught. It didn't make sense then and it doesn't now.) The results of this desire - a tendency for the forwards to evacuate the defensive zone when we regained clear control, and for the stretch pass to catch them mid-flight. Either it was caught and we attack with speed, or it was chipped in and we grind 'em down. This failed my eye test in practice. We don't have the roster built for doing this. We have Sam Reinhart, Tyler Ennis, slower guys like Okposo and Moulson, little guys like Gionta, up and down the wings of this roster. Those guys aren't winning races and board battles at the same time. Furthermore - we started encountering teams like Tampa, Carolina (who you will see a lot more of soon) and Boston. Teams with young, quick-thinking defensemen. They were on our pucks and had their teams transitioning the other way before we got to the faceoff dots. We did not beat these teams a single time this year. The stylistic clash was as obvious as anything in this sport I've ever seen. I'll never forget that for 6 straight minutes of even strength hockey in the second period at home against Carolina, the Buffalo Sabres did not possess the puck in the offensive zone one single time. That really, really happened.

 

We also saw teams like Ottawa and NYR. Teams that are pacing for almost (if not over) 100 points this year. Teams classified by their ability to break games open in transition. Mediocre in each zone, devastating on the rush. They were the first two teams we faced with Jack back. We popped in 9 goals. When the Rags opened up on us and took a 2-1 lead, I remember watching the back and forth action with legitimate fear accompanying the excitement in my gut. It reminded me of the first time I went snowmobiling in Canada - the whole time, I was electrified by adrenaline and simultaneously convinced I was going to die because I wasn't ready for that and didn't belong there. We can't be doing this, can we? We aren't good enough for this! Marcus fed it to Gio and the game was tied, capping off the most dizzying 2 minutes of hockey I've seen this team play since Briere and Drury. I wasn't scared of the Rangers. Eichel took over the 3rd and we won, and this board was alive and sensing that our playoff hopes might be too.

 

You've all read this a million times. You've all followed this season. You know what came next. Months of inconsistency. Our corsi and other possession stats never climbing out of the bottom 2 spots in the NHL, even though there are TWO goddamn tank teams this year. Constant arguing - it's the talent. It's the defense. It's the coach. It's the PK. The lines suck. ROR and Risto, ground to dust. We sit here in March, team in a horrendous regression, feeling exactly opposite the way we felt last March. This team is going in the wrong direction. Word is there are rifts between the coach and players, several of the latter ignoring the former. Jack's scoring on himself. We're close to the cap and fielding aesthetic garbage that doesn't win.

 

You all know that I place a lot of this at the feet of Dan Bylsma. I haven't backed off from that. I don't often like his lines, I don't see him as a motivator, he's killing ROR and Risto. But I expect variations of these things with any NHL coach. I might gripe from time to time, but these are not the reasons I want Dan fired. It all goes back to his system. It's not even the D&C so much anymore. It's the lack of puck support in all areas of the ice. Especially in transition.

 

The premise is simple: When transitioning, you want your players to be able to create and use space to enter the zone. When you provide puck support to the puck carrier, you create an odd man rush between the red line and either blue line, depending on what's going on. You can read what the defender does, and make the pass or keep the puck as needed. If you're constantly creating these little plays, you have a tremendous chance of getting into the zone and creating scoring chances. When you stretch the forwards out, far from the D, creating a low percentage play just to get the puck up for them to chip in the zone, for another low percentage puck recovery, you are not going to be as successful. It's very easy for the other team to hone in on whoever receives the pass, and to snuff him out at the line if by chance he does corral the pass.

 

I posed this as a solution to our transition problems and was met with some blow-back regarding our talent level. My response was to reference the Carolina Hurricanes, who had fewer players on a 20 goal pace than we did while Jack was hurt, and are still a top 7 or 8 possession team with a real talent problem which gives them bottom-3 PDO. I watched the Carolina Hurricanes closely, every chance I could find a stream. I was almost mesmerized by what a team of Victor Rasks, Joacim Nordstroms and Lee Stempniaks could do with a puck. And then I remembered that NHL players can indeed complete 5 foot passes when faced with 3 open players to choose from. Especially given 2 years of practice. Ours have spent 2 years chasing Risto stretch passes and banging into the corners as hard as possible.

 

I decided to count Sabres transition plays when I had a chance to watch the games in peace. Aside from a fluke game against the second-worst team in the league, we attempted these stretch passes 14-20 times per game, and regained/maintained control of them 0-4 times per game. Our carry - ins and team transition pass plays, even with less support than I see other teams used, maintained success rates between 60-85% on a game by game basis. Our dump-ins were an expected 30-45% success. The more I've watched for this stuff, the more I believe that the abandoned puck support in search of flipping the ice with speed is what really takes precedence, not dumping. The dumping just achieves that goal the most often. There are plenty of situations where the dump play is the right play, and where it works to our advantage. But when it gets combined with no puck support and leaned on for more than half of our transition attempts, we see a bottom tier possession team.

 

When you add talent to a good system, you are going to see an explosion. Toronto established a system with tank players like Brooks Laich leading the way, had them playing positive possession hockey, added 3 60 point players, and are one of the highest scoring teams in the league one year later. If they weren't playing 3 legitimate AHL defensemen every night, they'd win a playoff series. Carolina has established this same base. It almost has them playing too well to get that real high end talent, but keeping Peters around and adding young talent will develop that team into a contender. Putting defensemen like Slavin and Hanifin and Pesce in that environment is a wet dream for fans that love puck movers. They are incredible right now and will get even better. I wonder how they'd do with Guhle coming up in the next couple years.

 

These are all just words, though.


Pictures would be pretty helpful, because not everyone is watching the Canes. I decided to go through game highlights. My hope was to find instances of both the Sabres and the Hurricanes exhibiting these tactics. The Hurricanes were easy - I got bored after about 8 videos, finding more than enough of what I need, because these plays were leading to the goals they scored, and these highlight videos only put the goals and maybe 1 or 2 big saves or good chances otherwise. Because of this, I wasn't sure how successful I would be with the Sabres. Luckily (hah) we stretch pass a lot, and it leads to opposing chances almost immediately after a lot (they start the goal highlights 3-5 seconds before it's scored often, you can see why I was worried - most of our stretches were never going to see the light of day). 

Let's take a look! Pardon the words and arrows, they were to help me later remember what was going on in the video.

 

 

KirbnxGUO.jpg

 

Carolina comes in as a team. Four players, sticks down, looking for the pass. 42 dumps to the wing at the line, and drives through to open space, and the guy on the wing has two players filling that space, ready for a pass, going to their positions. Scoring chance created.

 

Next up:

KirEgRH1y.jpg

D-man at the top brings it with his team into the early neutral zone, and Teravainen executes a swoop behind Skinner to become an option on Skinner's other side when he receives the pass, but again, there are three options. Only one winger went to the blue line, in case there was a change/seam for a breakaway. 

 

Kis8QFCjG.jpg

Kisxhd8ZW.jpg

Here, Slavin brings the puck up EXACTLY how Kulikov would in Florida. Zaitsev steps up to force him, and he quickly turns to see 3 open sticks that have found space. He gives it to Teravainen, who then swoops behind the guy on the right wing, who came over for that exact reason. The swoop backed the D that you can't see in the first picture off so hard that he disappears in all that space in the left picture, he didn't know how to handle. It's a simple cross. I see our forwards cross to enter the zone once a month. 

 

Kit3NIjka.jpg

Look here where Hanifin's forwards are on the breakout. Colorado is hesitant to push into the zone, because the support would leave any individual forward outnumbered, and they opt to sit and try to gum up the NZ. Note how everything Carolina is doing is with the intent to have an option, to create the mini 2 on 1. 

Carolina comes in as a team. Four players, sticks down, looking for the pass. 42 dumps to the wing at the line, and drives through to open space, and the guy on the wing has two players filling that space, ready for a pass, going to their positions. Scoring chance created.


Edited by Randall Flagg, 22 March 2017 - 01:54 PM.


#101 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:05 PM

KitIXmsFg.jpg

Kiu9JqvKA.jpg

What's going on here: Number 40 whatever on the left boards brings the puck up, and has what looks like Aho open ahead of him. Two players are behind ready to catch a pass in stride.. RW has also found a soft spot at the top of the screen, and the player chooses to go to him. That player doesn't chip the puck in, or even carry it in, yet - he sees Faulk begin to accelerate, lets him pass and pick/take that forward with him (Faulk), and then he steps behind with another loop/cross whatever you call it. The action has pulled players away from the left side and opened up three options, and one of those guys catches the pass and they generate a great chance off the rush.

 

KiuAYI7uE.jpg

4D36xDoSl.jpg

 

Slavin brings the puck out again, Aho crossing in front to provide an option and if not pull Martinook away, and the RD ready for the pass as well. Another winger is at Slavin's level. Slavin elects to keep the puck, the D goes for a change, Slavin reads that Ryan is getting pressed and decides to find the winger that again waited in soft ice instead of pressing the line. Meanwhile, the center guy is coming down the blue line to pull players away from the pass receiver, and to get open himself. The space is there for either Cane forward to make an entry if the puck hits their stick. 

 

4D38V90pC.jpg

 

This is Faulk carrying the puck out. any pair or trio of Hurricanes players outnumbers the Flames in the zone. They aim for this. It's their goal. You can find this type of stuff any time they aim to carry the puck from their own end with control. Three forward options that have worked together to get the space they have, and have been within 15 feet of their defender the entire way up the ice. Faulk is the QB.


Edited by Randall Flagg, 16 March 2017 - 07:16 PM.


#102 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:05 PM

Kiw1nuoCO.jpg

4D3frgn9H.jpg

 

Here RD has the puck. LD was up in the NZ and came back, I can't remember what was up there. LW swings behind the LD, and RW does the same horizontal swing with C trailing. Faulk hits the open guy, Lw. Lindholm turns up ice, knowing that LW has the puck and that he has the Sens forward beat, and they create one of those 2 on 1s.

 

KiwRhCusI.jpg

KixgLmiLW.jpg

 

Another breakout with support for Faulk. The forwards come back, always one with a loop, often crossing (not in this case) and he has three different options that the Penguins can't close on, with every player waiting to help create either space or support for whichever player Faulk gets the puck to. He chooses the guy on the left boards, Nordstrom cuts back, Staal swoops in and heads back up ice when he sees that the open Nordstrom was receiving the pass. I believe Nordstrom ended up catching Staal for a chance down the wing but I don't remember exactly. 

KixCLHGCo.jpg

Faulk again decides to rush, the forwards who had hung back come with him, and he has two options both with space and speed. always outnumbering the opponents, always drawing them in before making moves. Forwards always ready for a pass and in space to receive it. 


Edited by Randall Flagg, 16 March 2017 - 07:18 PM.


#103 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:06 PM

Kiydc6zyw.jpg

 

Here, RD (top corner of the 4 players trapezoid) carried the puck past the blue line and gave it to who I think is Stempniak on the boards. Our player carries, or more likely dumps and chases. Stempniak holds up, draws 7 in, and sees either Teravainen ready for the pass or Skinner on the other wing, smelling blood. Skinner brings it in and scores. The patience by Lee was remarkable for someone used to watching Sabre brand neutral zone play.

 

KiyCAgTwo.jpg

 

 

This is just another breakout. More forwards hanging out. They always try to be spatially aware. The hockey is incredibly smooth, the flow is great. 

 

Kiz1x4AeY.jpg

 

Another transition example. When they send a guy for a possible break, they only hit him if it looks like he has a break, and they only send one guy, it's the inverse of what we often do. There were three players available. Dallas doesn't know what this iteration of a full team rush is going to be, they opt to try and clog again. The puck goes to Staal, who has two wingers he can hit, or a defenseman creeping up the wall way in the corner there. Options, options, options.

 

KizsMqiba.jpg

 

Go Sabres!! Defenseman waits until he draws Samson and whoever that other guy is, and hits the LW, who, like the C and RW, have space that wasn't there until the defenseman had the puck past the red line. All four came up the ice together and waited it out. 

 

Brief break from the Canes: Senators doing a cross at the top of their zone, not just for fun, but for more space. Also against Sabres:

 

 

Sens_1_1.jpg


Edited by Randall Flagg, 16 March 2017 - 07:20 PM.


#104 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:07 PM

Faulk_rush_forward_support.jpg

Faulk_rush_decision_and_space.jpg

Justin Faulk leading the way again, three forwards open as feasible passing options. He keeps it, lays it to the left, drives the net pulling several Leafs with him and opening space up for the player he dished it to, who has two different passing options. He chooses to go back to Aho, and Toronto is all over the place because they don't know which option the Canes are going to choose. How often do we make teams completely break down as they try to hold the line?

 

Anyway, this is a small sampling of what the Canes try to do for their structured rushes. These are all of the typical stretch pass plays that we make - same beginning situation, and they go this route with it. Here's what we do with our 14-20 instances per game.

 

Khy0iuDxM.jpg

There's sorta some support there, but that's not where Cody is looking:

KhALdg7vW.jpg

This play worked, because Bailey turned up ice and gave that winger support, and the winger managed to corral the pass. So, we have the ABILITY to employ some semblence of support. But in general, we're successful 0-15% of the time when we try this, like I said. And just look at that second picture. Cody is in the freaking slot, and look at where his forwards are. WHY.

 

KhCFdphEe.jpg

 

Risto looking for the breakout, and the forwards aren't even on the screen. I can't prove it to you here, but when the video proceeds, they are indeed being pressed by defensemen at the blue line. This was not a successful transition.



#105 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:07 PM

KhF3H8DAk.jpg

 

Here's Cody again, with absolutely nothing to work with. Sure, his defense partner is open. They often are. You all know what happens when they get used, though - the wingers stop awkwardly, because the 'flow' of the quick play is killed, and everyone stands awkwardly, and they regroup looking frustrated if we're lucky. More often than not that turns into the chip in or icing though. Here's what happens next after this pass:

 

KhHebjJDa.jpg

 

 

It's Jack, on the wrong end of the odd-man situation in the neutral zone that Carolina works so hard to create. We consistently create the opposite scenario for our forwards. Jack gets pressed, and:

 

KhIN12rey.jpg

 

Those guys that press him are in on an odd man rush, the forwards sheepishly behind the play. I think Pittsburgh scored here?

 

On occasion, the center swings through the tippy top of the defensive zone, but again, the play isn't to him. The priority is fast hockey going the other way, getting the puck in deep to the other end. See:

KhKY1yli4.jpg

Where's this puck going? Camera man catches up aaaaaaand

KhLPwEZRo.jpg

Bailey is there, and no other Sabres are in the picture with any form of support whatsoever. Turnovah.



#106 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:08 PM

KhNE3fZQk.jpg

Dmitri tries his thing here, that would work very well with the Carolina forwards. The problem is, ours have been on the wrong side of center ice the entire time, and only one of them are now moving at all. There's no emphasis on stopping where the space is, to create picks and crosses like the Canes - they stop because if they don't, they're offside. 

 

KhQ7XniFi.jpg

Kuli tries a drop and rush, but they get pressed at the line and Arizona gets a 2 on 1 which they bury. The flatfooted Sabres stand no chance.

 

KhWJ3CPNg.jpg

Another random snipshot above, a desolate wasteland of ice. 

 

KhXD3yRkc.jpg

 

McCabe starts a rush, not unlike some of the Slavin rushes we looked at above.There's nobody in that wide circle of ice in the middle though, just guys ready and waiting at the line for a much lower possession play. Instead of backing off from an O'Reilly Okposo combo in the middle hitting with speed, the defensemen press them at the line and force the chip/dump into the corner. Converting a possession into a tossup with a less than 50% chance of succeeding, again.

 

Ki063ffP8.jpg

 

I mean, these plays are so much harder to see in this form because they're so goddamn spread out. McCabe is back starting the play, and has to force another 70 foot pass that is turned over again. If the Sabre catches it, there are 3 Bruins on him with the nearest forward not even in the picture. It's just not a high percentage play. 



#107 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:08 PM

Ki6HNYMWo.jpg

As my delicious handwriting points out, Gionta is waiting after the line for this mother f*cking pass. No forwards in sight. 

Ki7KSMHZ6.jpg

Aren't we supposed to be creating the mini odd man situations? 

 

Ki9r1dqgc.jpg

After this pass, 

Kia6rlprK.jpg

 

Vancouver scores, the puck is in our net less than 6 mississippi's after we make the play to leave the zone.

 

KicHFPn1E.jpg

This is just more Risto having nowhere to pass to.



#108 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:08 PM

KidNn8Cec.jpg

KigoIazoC.jpg

KigXtZsuA.jpg

how many more of these would you like to see? 


Edited by Randall Flagg, 16 March 2017 - 07:31 PM.


#109 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:31 PM

Wow, that was a ###### pain in the ass. Qwk really helped me out, because Sabrespace merges posts and only allows 5 pictures per post, and then one of my image uploaders didn’t like what it was being asked to do so I had to fix half the pictures. All done now though.

Now, these transition plays make up roughly 20% of our total attempts to enter the zone, so it might not seem like much. But we’re giving ourselves almost no chance with them, shown by their fail rates in the games I’ve calculated. A team like Carolina turns almost all of those into the team pass plays, which my numbers show are pretty successful, even though we’re “not talented”. They also provide that support during the carries and the dumps, much more than we do. I don’t have the numbers for the Canes, but as they say, watch the games.

 

Hockey is a lot of improvisation. You need talent, you need luck. Studies also show that you need to simply have the puck. Many rushes, including our own, start with forwards from the d-zone, or a NZ turnover, and don’t get touched by these stretch pass plays and their stats. A lot of random things happen in hockey. But possession wins, and the difference between the best possession team and the worst every year is often less than 10%. You don’t need a huge swing in success rate to become an elite team. You need the structure implemented to maximize, in every zone, the chance that you will have the puck on your stick generating scoring chances in the end. This structure can be implemented via transition systems. Ours is bad. Our possession is bad. We added 6 60 point players in the past two seasons and still sit bottom 3 in possession and way out of the playoffs. Toronto adds half that many and goes from tanking to wild card, because they had that structure in place.

We will continue to spin our wheels if we continue to play low event, low possession hockey. This is why I want Dan Bylsma fired. We give up a lot of shots, even if we keep them to the outside. Look at the heat maps in this very thread. We don’t shoot or even use the puck at all in the danger areas, relative to league average. There is no structure in his hockey in either zone that redeems our neutral zone efforts. There is nothing redeeming about his usage, his motivation, his line combinations, his interviews. His view of how the game needs to be played is antiquated. Don’t tell me Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Jack Eichel can’t do this stuff. Sam Reinhart was BORN for those plays that Carolina uses. He’s going to keep grinding on the boards and losing puck battles, though.

My case is complete.

Your move, GMTM.



#110 Taro T

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:46 PM

In before the mic drop thread relock. :thumbsup:

Excellent work Randy

:beer:

#111 Sabres Fan In NS

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:47 PM

YOU CAN"T LOCK THIS THREAD.  IT WILL END UP IN THE BOWELS OF SABRESPACE.



#112 Randall Flagg

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:51 PM

That Kulikov rush that was a turnover at the blue line - I love that one. It emphasizes a lot of how Kuli is being misused. Posters after that were undoubtedly furious, because he 'gave the puck away' and got caught up ice, and we got scored on. But the EXACT same play was executed earlier in my pictures, by Carolina, for a scoring chance. Faulk. Kuli did that stuff in Florida and the team worked with it. He's good at that stuff. We never see it. It's not a coincidence his GF plummeted and GA skyrocketed, it's not a coincidence that he looks like crap. I'm sure similar things are true about Bogosian.


It's not getting locked! I only did it to fix things.



#113 WildCard

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:04 PM

So Kulikov can be good, as he has shown when he was the TOI leader for the Panthers in a playoff system

 

Holy ###### if we don't can Byslma this summer I'm going to ###### lose it

 

Btw, excellent usage of a team in the Canes to compare. Less talent and still a better team. Couldn't have picked a better example


Edited by WildCard, 16 March 2017 - 08:04 PM.


#114 dudacek

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:01 PM

No hyperbole: best analysis of hockey tactics I have ever seen on a message board.

Successful hockey is not speed, or grit, or power, or discipline.
Successful hockey is limiting their two-on-ones and creating yours - everywhere on the ice.

Look at those passes our poor d-men are being asked to make.
Watch what Sam Reinhart did in the world junior tournament.

Question: who the ###### is Bill Peters?
Answer: some schmuck who nobody ever heard of who understands hockey.

Somebody needs to show this to Tim Murray.

Edited by dudacek, 16 March 2017 - 09:03 PM.


#115 WildCard

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:03 PM

The real question is, where's the pro-Bylsma camp now?



#116 We've

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:08 PM

The real question is, where's the pro-Bylsma camp now?

 

There was a camp?  Was it alongside a lake?



#117 TrueBlueGED

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:46 PM

The real question is, where's the pro-Bylsma camp now?

 

Currently huddling to see how they can spin this into "See! We do the same thing every team does."

 

No hyperbole: best analysis of hockey tactics I have ever seen on a message board.

Successful hockey is not speed, or grit, or power, or discipline.
Successful hockey is limiting their two-on-ones and creating yours - everywhere on the ice.

Look at those passes our poor d-men are being asked to make.
Watch what Sam Reinhart did in the world junior tournament.

Question: who the ###### is Bill Peters?
Answer: some schmuck who nobody ever heard of who understands hockey.

Somebody needs to show this to Tim Murray.

 

Right, in the grand scheme of things, they're very difficult passes to complete. Add on top of that our defense corps not being especially deft passers, and you're asking for miserable failure. 



#118 MattPie

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:37 PM

Comment One: best analysis I've seen on a message board? It might be the best I've seen anywhere. Holy cow.

 

Comment Two: It's going to be sad when you don't have time to do these from school, work, or spending time with a person getting squelchy.



#119 WildCard

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:38 PM

'Getting squelchy'

#120 qwksndmonster

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:42 PM

The mere fact that you call it getting squelchy tells me that you're not ready.





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