I get the lack of scoring for sure. It has haunted us for seasons now ever since Drury and Briere left. I do not understand why the power play has crapped out? Are we entering the offensive zone the way we used to under Bylsma? Is Phil's entrance approach different? We have the same 5 guys that did produce on the PP under Bylsma looking completely lost under Phil. Why now? Risto can be productive from the point as can Scandella i believe but we don't see it under Phil's so called system.
Doesn't it scare you in the least what has happened to Risto under Phil? At times he looks lost out there and he never used to. It is glaring this season the change in him. Our defense rarely takes the body and I believe the lack theerof hurts both out goaltenders (it certainly doesn't help them anyhow)
As for putting Sabre bodies in front of the opposing goal, I am not seeing it with regularity as other teams do it. This could be based on our puck possession stats as well. If you don't have the puck in the opposing zone for long, it's hard to get a body in front of the net. Several of the games i have watched though we were not doing it enough when we could have (and should have) Reinhart goes there some of the time but doesn't seem strong enough to maintain good position. Botoom line is, I don't believe any of us thought this club could be this bad this season. Time will soon tell us if it is Phil, or the players or perhaps both. I'm guessing a bit of both.
I don't see much has changed with the power play except the speed with which the puck is being moved. Lately the power play has started to look more like it did last year. That said, last years PP efficiency was the 7th highest in the last 10 years of the NHL (not including this year). The Caps hold 4 of the top 7 positions and only Pittsburgh and Detroit in 07-08 were better. I think there is a lack of confidence and second guessing themselves that leads to split second indecisions and thus less time on the power play to get set up.
Phil's so called system is something that has to be learned over time. It's not instantaneous. Moreover, each guy has to get it. If they don't then other players have to start compensating for what one or more guys are not doing on the ice. This again comes down to talent. I don't know that everyone on the team gets it and perhaps more importantly it might be that every player can't play the system. As such, Housley may be doing the best that he can with this group of players. Think about it, the key players stayed the same, the supporting cast underwent a few changes and not much has changed.
I can't explain why the Sabres give up the blue line, they did it a lot last year as well. It could be that teams are attacking with numbers and our forwards are backchecking more rather than being in defensive position. The general rule of thumb is that you only go for contact when you have superior numbers. Anything even you play contain and anything less you play zone.
I'll readily admit I expected the team to be better. I'm ready to admit that I was probably a little optimistic in that expectation. The idea was that Bylsma and Murray were the issue and it would be fixed quickly. The reality is that Housley and Botterill may fix everything but it wasn't going to be this season. Rather than pull up the prospects from Rochester he left them down there and put together a team that can be successful in the AHL. He brought in small FA signings to bolster up the roster in Buffalo for this year. He took the time to evaluate who was capable of what and I we're left with waiting to see how he really molds this team in the coming months.