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Bylsma

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#121 Randall Flagg

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 12:14 AM

You guys are too kind

#122 ThirtyEight

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 05:41 AM

Great post. Interesting read. I honestly don't have the time to watch enough hockey, but I'm assuming the photos of the other teams are 'typical' of their breakouts in your eyes?

 

I've just had surgery and have a few weeks off work, so was looking forward to watching more hockey... then the Sabres decided to go on a west-coast trip :(

 

Obviously we are favouring the stretch pass. How much do we think that is a coaching decision or adaption? What was Bylsma like with the Pens? i.e. are we hail marying it every time because we don't have, or DD doesn't think we have, the talent to properly carry it? Or is this just his system?



#123 Neo

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 08:47 AM

You guys are too kind


Your upcoming PhD will be your second.

It's as if you've given me eyeglasses. Mr. Flagg achieves elusive clarity in the gauzy world of web blogs.

You've ascended to the SabreSpace Pantheon.

Now, tell me about Mr. Einstein, Bern, clocktowers, wristwatches and streetcars.

#124 MattPie

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:21 AM

Great post. Interesting read. I honestly don't have the time to watch enough hockey, but I'm assuming the photos of the other teams are 'typical' of their breakouts in your eyes?

 

I've just had surgery and have a few weeks off work, so was looking forward to watching more hockey... then the Sabres decided to go on a west-coast trip :(

 

Obviously we are favouring the stretch pass. How much do we think that is a coaching decision or adaption? What was Bylsma like with the Pens? i.e. are we hail marying it every time because we don't have, or DD doesn't think we have, the talent to properly carry it? Or is this just his system?

 

That's the big question, right? I think it has to be his system, as we have more talent than Carolina (the team in the "good" pictures), but they're in the same place in the standings. If anything, the long pass requires more talent than we have, making short passes with 2-3 options is an easier play than hitting a guy with and he knocking down an 80-foot rocket.



#125 TrueBlueGED

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:29 AM

That's the big question, right? I think it has to be his system, as we have more talent than Carolina (the team in the "good" pictures), but they're in the same place in the standings. If anything, the long pass requires more talent than we have, making short passes with 2-3 options is an easier play than hitting a guy with and he knocking down an 80-foot rocket.


I don't think it's a talent issue so much as the stretch pass is super easy to defend against when you know it's coming. Our Dmen may not be able to complete an open stretch with regularity, but teams know it's coming, so it's rarely open anyway.

#126 d4rksabre

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:41 AM

This thread got me all 

giphy.gif



#127 mallexen

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:26 AM

Hi all, I am a long-time lurker, but have to jump in to thank Mr Flagg for a fantastic series of posts.

Thanks,

Mike



#128 biodork

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:33 AM

This thread got me all 

giphy.gif

:lol:

 

I haven't watched nearly enough hockey (Sabres or otherwise) this season to weigh in on the specifics, but Flagg, based on what I gleaned from skimming and how much time and effort you put into all that,  :worthy:


Edited by biodork, 17 March 2017 - 11:33 AM.


#129 pi2000

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 12:07 PM

Great job Flagg.

As someone who played at a high level I can tell you (as if it isn't obvious) that Bylsma system is not the norm.

All but a couple teams I played on stressed puck support, create situations where the puck carrier has an option to make a high percentage 3-5 ft pass to escape danger. Coaches would always preach "the guy without the puck works the hardest" meaning when your team has possession everybody else needs to skate their ###### off to give him options.

That was 25-30 years ago, it's basic hockey, but it breaks down when you play a fast team who takes away that time and space to make a good decision with the puck.

This north south stretch and chase strategy can work but you need the right players... a team of Bailey's, Kanes, Carriers, Coglianos and Hagelins, guys that can win those races and wear down the opposition with their speed.

So does Bylsma go, or the slugs who don't fit?

One other thing... to me the most disturbing issue with this team is how they defend... and I'm not just talking about defensemen. There is absolutely zero fight in any player on this team to try and get the puck back in the d-zone.

Edited by pi2000, 17 March 2017 - 12:13 PM.


#130 Randall Flagg

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 12:30 PM

Great post. Interesting read. I honestly don't have the time to watch enough hockey, but I'm assuming the photos of the other teams are 'typical' of their breakouts in your eyes?

 

I've just had surgery and have a few weeks off work, so was looking forward to watching more hockey... then the Sabres decided to go on a west-coast trip :(

 

Obviously we are favouring the stretch pass. How much do we think that is a coaching decision or adaption? What was Bylsma like with the Pens? i.e. are we hail marying it every time because we don't have, or DD doesn't think we have, the talent to properly carry it? Or is this just his system?

In my previous 'counting' of our transition plays, there is a section that is about 20% of our total zone entry attempts each game that I would describe as these stretch pass attempts. I didn't count for any other team, but I assume it's roughly similar. The way we handle these transitions gives us almost zero chance to maintain possession. It works zero to four times per game, in the games I've counted. When we use controlled passing to enter the zone, we are successful anywhere from 65 to 85% of the time - Carolina takes that 20% of plays and chooses to go the 65%-85% route rather than the 0-15% one. The difference between possession stats of top ten teams and bottom ten teams may only be 3-5% total, and you can win cups if you're in that top ten. Simply structuring your transition game to allow for puck support ONLY these 20% of the time, you will substantially increase your team's possession. Add that puck support to all of your other carry ins and dump-ins and pass plays, you look like a well-oiled hockey machine. 

 

It is a coaching decision. It's part of how he plays 'fast, grinding hockey.' 'The puck travels fastest when it is passed', so it flips zones very quick when you do this. There's an article floating around from his time in Pittsburgh where it was mentioned to him that guys like Lovejoy and other defensemen not named Letang or Gonchar were having a lot of trouble with the stretch pass - his response was that the pass just needs to come quicker and be more accurate. No thoughts of adjusting to help his players, or adding support. They just need to do it better - then it will start working. It's not a system that you should defer to when you don't have talent. You need to be IMMENSELY talented to consistently put passes on the tape from that far away. His lack of in-game adjustment is bothersome too. Teams like Boston, Tampa, and Carolina completely neutralized us and we did nothing to change. Bylsma's team is the only one in the past ten years at least to not have positive possession numbers during a cup win season, his team was 22nd in the NHL, and won the cup largely because they had two generational talents putting up almost double the point totals, each, that playoff scoring leaders now get. 

 

And as far as talent level goes - The star of several photos up there, Joakim Nordstrom, has as many goals this season as Jack Eichel does in the past twelve days. The Canes have the lack of relative talent, but those passes are way easier to make, and are successful a much higher percentage of the time, than the plays that Franson has to make up to Gionta. 


Your upcoming PhD will be your second.

It's as if you've given me eyeglasses. Mr. Flagg achieves elusive clarity in the gauzy world of web blogs.

You've ascended to the SabreSpace Pantheon.

Now, tell me about Mr. Einstein, Bern, clocktowers, wristwatches and streetcars.

Thank you Neo. You talkin general/special relativity there? I only know some of the latter :)

 

Neither here nor there, but I do want to teach myself Quantum Field Theory and GR someday, to look for solutions to the quantum gravity problem (and collect my Nobel Prize obv). I'm not smart enough to do theoretical high energy in grad school, so I'm avoiding it for now! 


Hi all, I am a long-time lurker, but have to jump in to thank Mr Flagg for a fantastic series of posts.

Thanks,

Mike

You should post more!


Great job Flagg.

As someone who played at a high level I can tell you (as if it isn't obvious) that Bylsma system is not the norm.

All but a couple teams I played on stressed puck support, create situations where the puck carrier has an option to make a high percentage 3-5 ft pass to escape danger. Coaches would always preach "the guy without the puck works the hardest" meaning when your team has possession everybody else needs to skate their ###### off to give him options.

That was 25-30 years ago, it's basic hockey, but it breaks down when you play a fast team who takes away that time and space to make a good decision with the puck.

This north south stretch and chase strategy can work but you need the right players... a team of Bailey's, Kanes, Carriers, Coglianos and Hagelins, guys that can win those races and wear down the opposition with their speed.

So does Bylsma go, or the slugs who don't fit?

One other thing... to me the most disturbing issue with this team is how they defend... and I'm not just talking about defensemen. There is absolutely zero fight in any player on this team to try and get the puck back in the d-zone.

How far did you go in hockey? I'm jealous - I never got a chance to play at all.


Edited by Randall Flagg, 17 March 2017 - 12:31 PM.


#131 WildCard

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 12:30 PM

Used your pictures to convince my buddy Byslma sucks. Thanks



#132 dudacek

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:38 PM

I football terms, we're constantly throwing the long bomb on first and ten and paying for it, time and again with bad field position.

#133 WildCard

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:39 PM

I football terms, we're constantly throwing the long bomb on first and ten and paying for it, time and again with bad field position.

throwing it long on 1st, 2nd, and then punting it on 3rd down. Then we'll kneel the ball up by 3 in the 1st quarter



#134 Drunkard

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 11:10 AM

Bump to get this back on the first page since I alluded to it in another thread.



#135 Touched by Boyes

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 01:50 PM

Bump because Randall's epic analysis post may be the best post ever made on this site or any other site. Compelling, clearly articulated mastery of why this team has underperformed all year - even with pictures for those of us who are slow :thumbsup: 



#136 Randall Flagg

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 12:11 AM

Hey guys & gals - 

 

This is largely water under the bridge at this point, but I had to finish. If you're sick of system, Bylsma etc. then stop right heah.

I'm getting a head start typing this while the video is converting and yattah yattah. I'm not going to reiterate everything that's already been said up in this thread, but I was not satisfied with where I finished the "project". I decided to watch 10 Carolina Hurricanes games and do the same counting that I did for Buffalo Sabres zone entries. I ended up with entry totals for 10 games of each team.

 

While watching, I also nabbed some clips so those pictures and arrows could come to life. Like the photos, the quality isn't there, and the video below is the first time I've ever made one in my life. I wasn't aiming for quality, just trying to get the point across. 

In the end, I recorded 1,618 zone entry attempts - 849 for Buffalo and 769 for Carolina. The parameters and definitions for the different zone entries and their success/failure are listed in this thread up where I counted the first game. 

First, obviously, Buffalo averaged ~8 more zone entry attempts per game than Carolina. Just from watching, I would attempt to explain that by noting that Carolina's entries seemed to result in more time spent in the zone on average, which logically follows from their adherence to a possession game. Plus, as you'll see in the video to come, they were not afraid to wait for their opportunity to make a move coming out of their zone. 

Either way, here are some charts. 

 

Raw_Totals.jpg

 

This one doesn't need much explanation. Here are these stats broken down more handily, each entry type as a percentage of total entries:

 

Zone_Entry_by_percentage_tried_3_questio

 

My apologies if this one is tough to read, but all blue and green shades are "possession" entries, and all red and yellow shades are dumps/chips/stretches. The number I scribbled is the total percentage of zone entries each team attempted with possession.

 

As an illustration of a typical game's distribution, we have this: 

 

Zone_entries_per_game.jpg

 

And lastly, we have each team's success rate with each form of entry.

 

Zone_entry_success_rates.jpg

Some random thoughts:

Things stuck with me through these re-watchings. A major point - we had, like, ZERO odd man rushes at even strength all season. It was a ludicrously rare event. Carolina was springing guys on 2 on 1s and breakaways 2-5 times per game. In the ten games I watched for Buffalo, I saw probably 5 total. My attempted explanation - teams knew exactly what we were going to try and do, with the whole "stretch 'em out" thing. They were always ready when we regained possession in our zone, and tried as hard as possible to not be caught. It helped them that we were generally pretty slow to get our stretch set up. Carolina was great at catching teams on their change. Almost every stretch pass they made was because teams were defending their preferred form of transition and got caught doing so, or changing. This is why their success rate was so much higher. There were probably a dozen stretch passes total that mimicked the way we used them, and there were less than that on the Sabres side with the attempt to catch a team changing. 

 

There were so many zone EXITS that I desperately wanted to count as dumps but didn't because they didn't make it to where they needed to to be defined as a zone entry by this metric. A good exit for the Canes was one with possession and support. A good exit for the Sabres was an exit at all. Even if it didn't go far enough to get the desperately needed change. We'd barely skimp it across the blue line to have it get rammed back in our throats uncountable amounts of times. The lack of support that killed them with entries also destroyed any cohesive attempts at creating a pressure valve when things got tough on the back end. Carolina did this as well, as any team does sometimes, but nowhere close to the degree that Buffalo did. 

 

Carolina's carries were successful, even with the Lee Stempniaks of the world, because of the space created with support and the unpredictability of their transition game. The fact that Buffalo was as successful as they were with carries is largely due to Jack Eichel. 

We're talking like 6-7 minute stretches at even strength where the Sabres did not have possession in the right zone for a single second. More than once in this little experiment. 

 

All kinds of Hurricanes dumps came off of neutral zone faceoffs, not as many of ours did. Each team's opponent also preferred to dump in no matter what when they won a faceoff in the neutral zone. 

 

The Sabres' best game that I counted in terms of entering the zone with possession was at Toronto 1/17, where they used possession entries 48 times and the other non-possession entries 49 times. The Canes' best game was against Nashville at home, where they used possession entries 57 times and the other kind 15 times. The Canes' worst was 44 possession, 33 no possession. The Sabres had a 31-57 split once, and probably did worse in games whose sheets I can't find right now.

 

If your system focuses on supporting players and giving them possession, and your team has NHL hockey players on it, it will be a successful possession team. I've described in depth how much talent Carolina lacks, it shows in their PDO, it shows in the fact that we're actually substantially better at team pass entries when we decide to do them. And yet they were the 5th best Corsi team in the entire league, because Bill Peters has them playing like you'll see below. So many dangerous entries where little happens because it's not quite there yet. Imagining Sam and ROR playing with this structure, imagining Jack and Okposo getting the space the Canes forwards do - these guys would take full advantage. This forward group in that system would be unstoppable. Risto and McCabe would have whole new elements to their game. If Carolina can get some forward talent to go with their outstanding young defense corps, they will look like the Globetrotters, just like Chicago does. They're already playing that way, one of their zone entry wizards being Joakim Nordstrom, who at one point in mid March had fewer ES goals on the season than Jack did the previous 12 days. 

Housley, please get this right. If you do, Buffalo fans will finally have fun watching their teams again.

 

A couple notes for this ###### video: I needed to go 1.5 speed a few times to get this to fit under 15 mins. You'll be able to tell where this happens. There's also no intentional audio, so you'll hear WGR550, the announcers, my breathing, and the fan in my room in no particular order. Oh, and I had to pay 45 dollars to get rid of the water mark on this thing. ######.

 

I'm done now. This will be my last post in this thread. 


Edited by Randall Flagg, 21 June 2017 - 12:14 AM.


#137 Woods-Racer

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 09:22 AM

Thank you for the final nail in the Blysma coaching coffin.

 

Not that I had any doubt that the system and personality of the Head Coach where reflected on the team, it's just nice to see and read just how bad it WAS in comparison to a team of lessor talent.

 

One day some poor fan will find this thread after their team has hired Dan, I'm hoping it's Toronto.



#138 Sabres79

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 09:47 AM

Looking at this and considering what has been said previously, I wonder if our defenseman are really that bad. I'm talking myself into a BOGO return to the top specifically. Also, Josh Gorges could probably play as a 6 if not required to hold the entire zone by himself after the inevitable failure of yet another stretch pass.

#139 MattPie

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:06 AM

Looking at this and considering what has been said previously, I wonder if our defenseman are really that bad. I'm talking myself into a BOGO return to the top specifically. Also, Josh Gorges could probably play as a 6 if not required to hold the entire zone by himself after the inevitable failure of yet another stretch pass.

 

I have been wondering too. I'm not saying Gorges and Bogogo are going to turn it around, but HHDCRGDDB's style of play certainly was a good way to expose some players weaknesses. Bogogo had gaffs but I hope he can make the right decision when it's just to make a 10 foot pass to any of a couple skating forwards. Gorges is in the same boat, although I'm not sure he'll be able to skate well enough to truly attack as a 5-man unit.



#140 Thorny

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:19 AM

I have been wondering too. I'm not saying Gorges and Bogogo are going to turn it around, but HHDCRGDDB's style of play certainly was a good way to expose some players weaknesses. Bogogo had gaffs but I hope he can make the right decision when it's just to make a 10 foot pass to any of a couple skating forwards. Gorges is in the same boat, although I'm not sure he'll be able to skate well enough to truly attack as a 5-man unit.


If Beaulieu and Antipin can hold down the second pair, I'm willing to give Bogo a shot on pair 3. I'd preferably still like to upgrade Gorges, though.

#141 TrueBlueGED

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:26 AM

Looking at this and considering what has been said previously, I wonder if our defenseman are really that bad. I'm talking myself into a BOGO return to the top specifically. Also, Josh Gorges could probably play as a 6 if not required to hold the entire zone by himself after the inevitable failure of yet another stretch pass.

 

 

I have been wondering too. I'm not saying Gorges and Bogogo are going to turn it around, but HHDCRGDDB's style of play certainly was a good way to expose some players weaknesses. Bogogo had gaffs but I hope he can make the right decision when it's just to make a 10 foot pass to any of a couple skating forwards. Gorges is in the same boat, although I'm not sure he'll be able to skate well enough to truly attack as a 5-man unit.

 

Magic beans. 



#142 ShadowLiger

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 01:49 PM

Gorges is done, his skating has gotten slow. 

 

Bogo might have some redemption but will never be worth his contract. 



#143 Thorny

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 08:47 PM

Gorges is done, his skating has gotten slow. 
 
Bogo might have some redemption but will never be worth his contract.


This is where I'm at, too.





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