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Randall Flagg

Berglund, Sobotka, & a Season Preview

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Lots of good stuff to chew on. I’m going to start with this:

“His play appears to be relatively impervious to his opponents. Furthermore, he possesses a property that makes every single player he plays with score more and give up fewer goals.” (It’s in the opening post, trust me)

Sounds to me like a guy you build around.

If we are maximizing Jack’ offensive mismatches on one line and Berglund’s low-event hockey on another, shouldn’t this player be anchoring your two-way line?

Edited by dudacek

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Very interesting, will give me things to think about. 

I still see Risto's potential being that of a prime Brett Seabrook; a 2/3 dman with average defensive play, good offensive numbers, physical, and someone who can fill in as a #1 in the event of injuries. He also has some pest-like qualities to him which doesn't hurt. That being said he is in desperate need of playing, at minimum, 3 fewer minutes a game. The poor guy has been literally thrown to the wolves for nearly his entire career, played like Suter where as his style of play really doesn't suit that as of this time; and then slowly grinds down as the season progresses. I honestly wish someone could teach him positioning because he'd at least play better in his own zone if he could use his size for both physicality and cutting down on lanes. 

 

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Heh.  Scott Arniel was a half joke last week, but maybe that's not too far off afterall.

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Risto's overplay has been a result of having no one else to play.  Hopefully that changes this season.

As to the forwards, your stats illustrate what we mostly already knew.  Jack to a force on offense terrible on D.  He also can't win a draw.  Sid wins draws and plays 2 way hockey.  I'm not sure Jack ever will.  Skinner is a non-physical Kane, and we have no one at forward who can or is willing to play 2 way hockey.  Yeah!  Doesn't seem like a lineup for success.  At least Erod passes the eye and stats test.

Thanks for depressing me.

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Randall,

Just plain awesome, as always.

I say that reading the first few paragraphs and skimmng the rest of your Masters Thesis.

(insert winkie thingie here)

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Wow, that's quite the write up.  Before I get the chance to read it all, I just want to say that we need to ban anyone who quotes it in full.

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18 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Risto's overplay has been a result of having no one else to play.  Hopefully that changes this season.

As to the forwards, your stats illustrate what we mostly already knew.  Jack to a force on offense terrible on D.  He also can't win a draw.  Sid wins draws and plays 2 way hockey.  I'm not sure Jack ever will.  Skinner is a non-physical Kane, and we have no one at forward who can or is willing to play 2 way hockey.  Yeah!  Doesn't seem like a lineup for success.  At least Erod passes the eye and stats test.

Thanks for depressing me.

You're right that Jack might never be good defensively, but Crosby didn't develop that part of his game by year 3 of his career either. And it's true that Kane is obviously more physical than Skinner, but that doesn't mean he played any defense. 

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 I have been a chronic lurker here for more then 5 years. But I just wanted to show some appreciation, @Randall Flagg this is an awesome quality write up. Its post like these that keeps Sabrespace a step above other Sabre social media outlets (reddit, etc..) and keeps me coming back day after day. 

 

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19 minutes ago, Bknotz said:

 I have been a chronic lurker here for more then 5 years. But I just wanted to show some appreciation, @Randall Flagg this is an awesome quality write up. Its post like these that keeps Sabrespace a step above other Sabre social media outlets (reddit, etc..) and keeps me coming back day after day. 

 

Welcome!!

Don't be afraid now that you have taken the plunge.  We don't bite, unless you ask nicely and buy us dinner first.

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@Randall Flagg this is the best post I think you've ever made.  It's certainly one of the best posts I recall reading overall on this board.  It really doesn't even matter how much or little I agree with it.  The amount of care, thought, reasoning, and effort that went into making it are commendable.

I'm not going to try and break parts of it down.  But perhaps you are seeing Jason Botterill attempt to build the Sabres using the same Penguins logic you pointed out and hopefully have a few more tools to use.  I don't see Eichel at the level of Crosby, or Reinhart at the level of Malkin.  I see them different.  But the Penguins also never had a D like what Dahlin is supposed to become.

I am giving a usage pass to the past season.  First, there is only so much you can do with the roster. Second, I'm convinced the point of some of it was to give themselves a shot at the #1 pick.

This season is where I think we need to pay far more attention to those things.  It'll be interesting.

Again, incredible post... absolutely incredible (and yes, I read the whole thing).

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I fell asleep halfway through it last night but just polished the rest of it off.  Awesome.  

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Good stuff Flagg.  The most interesting to me is your suggestion on Ristolainen.  

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1 hour ago, TrueBlueGED said:

You're right that Jack might never be good defensively, but Crosby didn't develop that part of his game by year 3 of his career either. And it's true that Kane is obviously more physical than Skinner, but that doesn't mean he played any defense. 

Crosby was at 51.4% in the face off circle in year 3 and his Ozone starts were only 50%.  I never said Kane played defense.  I just said he was more physical.  

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2 hours ago, TrueBlueGED said:

And it's true that Kane is obviously more physical than Skinner, but that doesn't mean he played any defense. 

But he did.  He at least tried.  Carolina describes Skinner as a defensive black hole.

Kane also played PK.

 

Edited by Doohickie

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1 hour ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Crosby was at 51.4% in the face off circle in year 3 and his Ozone starts were only 50%.  I never said Kane played defense.  I just said he was more physical.  

I didn't contend the faceoff point, just the defensive play. That said, I never expect Jack to be playing Selle-caliber defense, but I do think he'll get to "okay." 

Re Kane playing defense, fair enough. The way you wrote it I definitely thought you were connecting the physicality and defense points. 

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Great post, flagg! This will be a good post to look back on in 2 months when HCPH starts rolling out lines. For some reason I can see him implementing 3-5 elements of your "avoid like the plague" section.

I'm also curious to see how the glut of Okposo, EROD, Pomminstein, Baily, Baptiste, Thompson, Girgensons, Larsson, Wilson shakes out. There ain't enough room in town for everybody and I'm really hoping we're not watching Pommers or Larsson at all this year. I suppose that's what training camp will be for.

 

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This is the Randall Flagg I know and love.  I get how much time this took.  I really do and I really appreciate it.  I think this is 'The Athletic' quality without a doubt.  I much prefer this to reading a Blues message board and hearing their takes after trading a player away.  Myself included, sometimes you diminish the value of some of these guys after they're out the door.  First hand info analysis and forming your opinion is what is paramount.  Phenomenal read.

 

Edit - What I also learned is HCPH is on thin ice.  It's a big time make or break year for him.

Edited by Derrico

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I'll take this as an apology to the forum from Flagg, after his ad nauseam doomsday foretelling, immediately following the ROR trade. Apology accepted 😜

 

 

j/k- this is really great. We all appreciate the amount of time and thought that goes into these posts

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BTW:  I had to hit "page down" EIGHT times to get from the top of Flagg's post to the bottom.

I pity the fools who make him defend his PhD dissertation!

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What makes this stuff so interesting to me is that it is all based on a very specific set of factors: how the players were deployed last year and how they responded. Before we can move forward into next year, what are the variables?

1) is there a standard progression young players follow, and, if so, what is it? Offensively, we know young players tend to show growth over their first few years, peak around age 24 and start to decline around 29. Are there similar paths tied to some of the analytics numbers above? Do the trends show us that Risto might get better at shot suppression? When? How?

2) Do player’s analytics tend to fluctuate a lot from season to season? If and when they do change significantly, how often is that tied to changes in coaching strategies and deployment? Can you develop players into something other than what they are? Should you? Again, are there patterns?

3] How much can players change? Reaching way back here, but Serge Savard was an offensive dynamo who reinvented himself into a shutdown guy as his career progressed. Is it possible for Jeff Skinner to ever become respectable defensively from an analytics point of view?

4) Related to the above, how much do nurture and nature play a role? You read all the time about a player adjusting to a coach’s system, or finding themselves under a new coach. How much of no-event Patrik Berglund comes from a lack of passing skills and a predilection for defence and how much is him being exactly the safe automaton Ken Hitchcock demanded of him? Can Jack grow into the traditional #1 centre role by Housley repeatedly playing him against Crosby until he learns how to beat him, or are we better off finding him mismatches? Under what scenarios can the help Girgensons gives defensively more than compensate for the drag he creates offensively? Do you use Reinhart to prop up a flawed line, give an extra jolt to a strong line, or anchor a line on his own?

And how should deployment shift from opponent to opponent, or even game situation to game situation?

Complicated stuff, this coaching.

Edited by dudacek

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Great Post Randall, and I am not going to try your dissertation style... for the D.  And I love your analysis of Risto and agree.  Dahlin probably gets Scandella to shelter him.  

The question for me is who best fits Risto.  McCabe could skate with Risto and might work to start and allow him to do what he does, but I am not sure JMacC is good enough defensively to help Risto.  The other option is pair him with a skater such as Pilut to push the pace.  Pair them in an offensive zone push.  I dont trust Bogo to stay healthy, but he would be an obvious choice to pair with Risto.  I would love the option of choosing between a McCabe and Pilut or Bogo and Pilut on the third pairing but crap I keep forgetting about Ghule.  If Ghule can develope physically enough along with Pilut to be able to dump one of Bogo and McCabe then I think you really have some speed on the back end. Imagine the six D having Dhalin, Scandella, Risto, Ghule, Pilut and Bogo or McCabe and Nelson being the eighth guy.

On offense,  I like the idea of Jack with Erod and Sheary... line 2 of Mitts, Sam and Skinner and then a third line of Berglund and Big Z with either Vodka or Wilson.  4th line grinders not sure of and some of depends on what KO shows??? Can he rebound then put him with Berglund and drop Wilson to the fourth line.  I love Larry in the pest role but he has lost his moxy since the previous year’s injury but maybe on a fourth line with Sobodka.  That leaves out Thompson, Bailey and Baptiste and if Nylander starts showing more.  

Finally some competition for spots and I am hoping the young guys can push the older one’s to step up or retire.

 

Edited by North Buffalo

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9 hours ago, Bknotz said:

 I have been a chronic lurker here for more then 5 years. But I just wanted to show some appreciation, @Randall Flagg this is an awesome quality write up. Its post like these that keeps Sabrespace a step above other Sabre social media outlets (reddit, etc..) and keeps me coming back day after day. 

 

I'd like to echo this statement. Not to disparage all of the other quality posts that should have dragged me from the shadows in years past.

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1 hour ago, dudacek said:

What makes this stuff so interesting to me is that it is all based on a very specific set of factors: how the players were deployed last year and how they responded. Before we can move forward into next year, what are the variables?

1) is there a standard progression young players follow, and, if so, what is it? Offensively, we know young players tend to show growth over their first few years, peak around age 24 and start to decline around 29. Are there similar paths tied to some of the analytics numbers above? Do the trends show us that Risto might get better at shot suppression? When? How?

2) Do player’s analytics tend to fluctuate a lot from season to season? If and when they do change significantly, how often is that tied to changes in coaching strategies and deployment? Can you develop players into something other than what they are? Should you? Again, are there patterns?

3] How much can players change? Reaching way back here, but Serge Savard was an offensive dynamo who reinvented himself into a shutdown guy as his career progressed. Is it possible for Jeff Skinner to ever become respectable defensively from an analytics point of view?

4) Related to the above, how much do nurture and nature play a role? You read all the time about a player adjusting to a coach’s system, or finding themselves under a new coach. How much of no-event Patrik Berglund comes from a lack of passing skills and a predilection for defence and how much is him being exactly the safe automaton Ken Hitchcock demanded of him? Can Jack grow into the traditional #1 centre role by Housley repeatedly playing him against Crosby until he learns how to beat him, or are we better off finding him mismatches? Under what scenarios can the help Girgensons gives defensively more than compensate for the drag he creates offensively? Do you use Reinhart to prop up a flawed line, give an extra jolt to a strong line, or anchor a line on his own?

And how should deployment shift from opponent to opponent, or even game situation to game situation?

Complicated stuff, this coaching.

You may be able to boil it down ever further on the forwards

1) Who are our most responsible defensive forwards?  I'd rank them by position.  I'd almost build a 3rd line with the most responsible LW, C and RW.  This is the line I'm putting out against the other teams top line as often as possible.   

2) Who works best with Jack?  I'm giving this line 55-60 O starts.  I don't care if it's Skinner, Sheary or Erod on Jack LW.  I also don't care if it's Reinhart, Okposo or Thompson on the RW.  I want whomever allows Jack to maximize his offensive potential.  I'd even look at Mittelstadt.  

3) Lastly how best to deploy Mittelstadt?  I'm going to assume he plays C, but with so many guys who can play center (Reinhart, Berglund, Z, Larry, O'Regan, Sobotka, Erod and even Thompson, we have flexibility to deploy Casey where he has the best chance to succeed.

After that you make the best of the rest line.  

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28 minutes ago, The Spotless Mind said:

I'd like to echo this statement. Not to disparage all of the other quality posts that should have dragged me from the shadows in years past.

Welcome aboard.... 

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