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WildCard

Sabres Neutral Zone Play

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I suspect that a common theme in this series will be that the systems Phil Housley has implemented are perfectly reasonable and effective, but the 17/18 Sabres just didn't have the talent to execute consistently. When the Sabres struggled with the neutral zone defense it was often due to their inclination toward playing conservatively in what should otherwise be an attacking situation. It's possible that the team's lack of foot speed contributed to their defensive attacking aversion, but even still, they had plenty of opportunities to attack and force turnovers in spite of their lack of speed, but they often opted to take the easy route instead.

.... and that is why 13 players are already gone and younger, faster and hungrier players are on the way.

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I love the two gifs of Okposo standing there doing nothing and Scott Wilson aimlessly circling 

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That first GIF with Risto pinching the guy off is why we didn't buy that bizarre claim from some chart somewhere that Risto hadn't stopped a zone entry all season at some point absurdly far into the season. 

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I think Housley is a fine X's and O's coach... but can he get everyone to buy in and play at a level above and beyond what they believe they're capable of?   Hmmm.

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1 hour ago, WildCard said:

Found this really solid article with a bunch of gifs and explanations on our neutral zone play. Credit to u/BotterillsOfJack on reddit, good stuff here

https://www.thescreen.co/single-post/2018/07/09/Sabres-System-Series-Part-1---Neutral-Zone-Defense

Yes, I saw this on twitter today.  He said he was going to do a couple of more as well, system or players not playing system kinda thing.

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15 minutes ago, pi2000 said:

I think Housley is a fine X's and O's coach... but can he get everyone to buy in and play at a level above and beyond what they believe they're capable of?   Hmmm.

Yes, motivation v booksmart.  Why John Thompson kicked Jim Boeheim's but in the NCAA's all those years.  Finally Boeheim learned a thing or two and Thompson retired.

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Good article and illustrations.  Having played in a 1-2-2 as both a forward and a defenseman, I'm familiar with it.

The Sabres players failing to step up and pressure puck carriers could be a lack of talent, but it could also be a lack of confidence with self or teammates.  For a defenseman to make an aggressive play on the puck at their own blueline, they have to be confident in their own ability to make the play and they have to be confident in their teammates' ability to make the play if they fail.  If one or the other isn't there, it is all too easy for a defenseman to back off and take the "safe" positioning, even if it breaks the effectiveness of the system.

This confidence in self comes from successfully executing plays to get positive reinforcement.  The confidence in teammates comes from familiarity and trust begat from playing time with your defense partner and your forwards.  On a young team that didn't have confidence from success, that also had the defense get jumbled (see other thread and pair ice times), it's easy to see why they couldn't adapt to the system.

Guhle's play in the last gif is a perfect example of this, and I see this in inexperienced players all the time.

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It’s interesting in this context to recall what I liked most about Nelson in his late recall: a noticeable ability to stand up guys at our blueline on a regular basis.

This piece also sheds new light on the criticism that the Sabres weren’t listening to their coaches - they lacked the skill or confidence necessary to implement a fundamental principle of their game plan. It appears tied to a hangover from Bylsma’s infinitely more conservative philosophy of giving up the outside and the general aversion to risk developed when a team gets repeatedly beaten like a dog as the Sabres have over recent years.

I go back to exciting style we saw against Montreal in the opener and how it blew up in their faces against the Islanders. The team got burned early and didn’t develop trust in the system.

Nice find @WildCard

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Well now I can't un-see this while watching Sabres games. 

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This was really great. The illustrations made it very easy to follow exactly what he was getting at. I agree that this is most likely a remnant of the Byslma conservatism, where our players were so used to playing prevent that they don't instinctively attack as the system requires.

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+1 WC, That was very solid and easy to understand and see what was happening.

I am always impressed with efforts like this from dedicated fans as well as our own SS fancystat mavens... WC, IKP, Randall, Liger, True, Smell, The Dude, ....et. al...

 

Thanks guys for keeping this the place to come for those who like hockey, thirst for Knowledge, oh and Bust Balls which covers most of the rest of us..   

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I don't buy that this is Bylsma hangover.  Those guys have all played in 1-2-2 systems in their past.  Every team uses it to at least some extent.  Hell, local beer league teams use it.

This was guys not fully checked in.  Those are mental errors, not physical ones. 

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Just now, IKnowPhysics said:

I don't think learning it is the issue.  It's execution.

Same. There's no way this forecheck is a foreign concept to them 

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33 minutes ago, Weave said:

I don't buy that this is Bylsma hangover.  Those guys have all played in 1-2-2 systems in their past.  Every team uses it to at least some extent.  Hell, local beer league teams use it.

This was guys not fully checked in.  Those are mental errors, not physical ones. 

 

15 minutes ago, IKnowPhysics said:

I don't think learning it is the issue.  It's execution.

 

14 minutes ago, WildCard said:

Same. There's no way this forecheck is a foreign concept to them 

Absolutely

Edited by dudacek

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Where do you get GIFs like that. Asking for a friend

Edit: I'm dumb. That's a pretty damn cool tab on the top there.

Edit: That database seems limited. 

My first purchase when I get a real job is going to be something that lets me watch and use and edit hockey clips fer sher

Edited by Randall Flagg

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