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LGR4GM

Housley and Roster Optimization

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Some of us have questioned Housley's use of lines. His forward lines are baffling at times and he seems to continually favor his veterans when clearly younger players have surpassed them. 

Here is what the Athletic's Ryan Stimson has to say:

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According to Sean’s chart, the Sabres were an average to slightly-above average team in xG differential for the early part of the season. Then, on November 17, the team’s rate difference plummeted and really hasn’t recovered. What happened?

November 17th was the team’s 20th game of the year... Just before that 20-game mark, Housley reunited the Jeff Skinner – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart line. Since then, the team’s overall performance has fallen off a cliff.

That line has 273 minutes at 5v5 together and, according to NaturalStatTrickonly produces a 48.7 percent shot share. If that’s the best they can do and the rest of the team suffers without them (46.2 percent shot share with none of those three players on the ice), then Housley must retool the lines.

There is a lot more there but I don't want to steal Stimson's story. https://theathletic.com/751006/2019/01/08/stimson-how-we-can-measure-phil-housleys-performance-at-midseason/ 

There is a clear argument that Housley is hurting the team by leaving that first line fully intact. They need to be broken up. Move Reinhart to a different line or move Skinner away from Jack. The scoring is just going to die. Now teams just have to contain that line and they win. Or if that line has an off night, the other team wins. It isn't working and it needs to change. Also there was a line further down we should discuss:

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The lack of depth is quickly laid clear for all to see. The big changes would have to be on the back end in ensuring Pilut and Dahlin get maximum top-4 minutes the rest of the season.

Some were PISSED that Housley pulled Pilut from the lineup and I stand by that. Pilut is probably either the 3rd or 4th best defender on this team. He clearly should be getting fed minutes. 

Edited by LGR4GM
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I have been arguing this for months now.

The team was playing better hockey before the streak than during it.

And they haven't recovered because Pominville playing anywhere but the first line makes him completely useless.

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On 11/12/2018 at 11:54 AM, darksabre said:

Correct.

The problem with moving Reinhart to the top line, for me, is that moving Pominville off of it makes the other lines a little too slow. For me if Pommers' slowness isn't on a line where it can be absorbed/covered up, then he doesn't really have a spot on my team. 

 

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3 minutes ago, darksabre said:

I have been arguing this for months now.

The team was playing better hockey before the streak than during it.

And they haven't recovered because Pominville playing anywhere but the first line makes him completely useless.

And he can't keep up with that first line anymore.  He had his 10(ish) games.

It is very difficult to optimize this roster, well the forwards at least.  We have 3 very good to great ones and than a bunch of 3rd / 4th liners and then a good 4th line until Burgy jumped ship.

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1 minute ago, New Scotland (NS) said:

And he can't keep up with that first line anymore.  He had his 10(ish) games.

It is very difficult to optimize this roster, well the forwards at least.  We have 3 very good to great ones and than a bunch of 3rd / 4th liners and then a good 4th line until Burgy jumped ship.

Sure he can. I know everyone was trying to justify his being moved off of it by saying he looked worn out, but I didn't see that at all.

At the very least they need to be shuffling the RW players around more during games. Reinhart needs to be contributing elsewhere.

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I think the key is giving Mittelstadt someone other than Okposo on his right. I wish Okposo had returned to form and maybe he will if he goes to line one but he's not helping Mitts consistently enough. You get 1 good game or a good shift from him and then nothing. 

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25 minutes ago, darksabre said:

Sure he can. I know everyone was trying to justify his being moved off of it by saying he looked worn out, but I didn't see that at all.

 

Would these help

 

gg0020o-black.jpg

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27 minutes ago, darksabre said:

Sure he can. I know everyone was trying to justify his being moved off of it by saying he looked worn out, but I didn't see that at all.

At the very least they need to be shuffling the RW players around more during games. Reinhart needs to be contributing elsewhere.

I totally agree.  Pommenstein being "slow" wasn't necessarily a negative for his performance on that line.

So long as he was able to follow up the play generated by Eichel and Skinner, who would naturally draw most of the attention away from Pommers.  He could hobble his way to a high percentage zone.  No one expects the feeble old has-been to score a goal.

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Housley’s lineup choices have been pretty solid overall and aren’t among the team’s biggest issues.

Sure, I’d be interested in breaking the top line up to get some secondary guys scoring. But the issue is more with the performances of Sheary Okposo and Mittelstadt than the way that Housley deploys them. 

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My $.02 - Pomminstein was a good alternative to Sam on the first line.  With two speedy guys already, he could find his space and take advantage of some good feeds by the other two.  He still has a good/quick shot and can score IMHO.  As far as Mittelstadt, I agree that he needs somebody other than Okposo.  I would like to see a prolonged experiment with Mittelstadt, Sheary and TT together.  It may flop, but why not try....not just for a couple shifts, but several games.  I don't like some of the d-combo's either, especially Dahlin with Scandella.  Marco still looks bad to me this year and he's taking Dahlin down with him plus forcing him to play on the right side (I prefer seeing Dahlin on the left).  Last, I don't like Housley's PP period and some of it has to do with who is together on the ice.  Really can't stand seeing Okposo out there in particular...he has no finesse to play on the PP.

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Scandella has backslid this year but I’m not sure why it’s his fault when Rasmus coughs up the puck.

And Okposo can’t score right now to save his life, but I don’t see how that excuses Casey for his failures to create separation or complete a pass.

Jack can’t play with everybody and the rest of them all need to contribute and be accountable, no matter their age.

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51 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Housley’s lineup choices have been pretty solid overall and aren’t among the team’s biggest issues.

Sure, I’d be interested in breaking the top line up to get some secondary guys scoring. But the issue is more with the performances of Sheary Okposo and Mittelstadt than the way that Housley deploys them. 

Yea, it's almost like Sheary - Mitts - KO are bad together... There is an issue with Housley's lineup choices. 

3 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Scandella has backslid this year but I’m not sure why it’s his fault when Rasmus coughs up the puck.

And Okposo can’t score right now to save his life, but I don’t see how that excuses Casey for his failures to create separation or complete a pass.

Jack can’t play with everybody and the rest of them all need to contribute and be accountable, no matter their age.

Dahlin and Scandella together is bad because Dahlin can't make ANY mistakes because Scandella can't cover. They should be split up. Either give Dahlin Pilut or McCabe. If not put him back with Bogo. 

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Wasn't Mitts given the opportunity to center Samson and Skinner the other day? It didn't last long, because the panic that has crept into his game is leading to bad decisions - can't do that against top-line defense.

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4 minutes ago, ... said:

Wasn't Mitts given the opportunity to center Samson and Skinner the other day? It didn't last long, because the panic that has crept into his game is leading to bad decisions - can't do that against top-line defense.

That line has only played 11:31 of 5v5 ice time together. They have a positive corsi and a positive goals for. 

Edited by LGR4GM

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This is like criticizing a chef who has been given two ingredients to work with: filet mignon and carrots.  There are only so many things one can do with such basic ingredients.  

But, maybe we're supposed to apply the axiom "a good artist doesn't blame his tools."  Paint, Phil, paint!  Paint for your life!

Just now, LGR4GM said:

That line has only played 11minutes of 5v5 ice time together. 

That's more than I thought.  He must have really blew the opportunity.

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3 minutes ago, ... said:

This is like criticizing a chef who has been given two ingredients to work with: filet mignon and carrots.  There are only so many things one can do with such basic ingredients.  

But, maybe we're supposed to apply the axiom "a good artist doesn't blame his tools."  Paint, Phil, paint!  Paint for your life!

That's more than I thought.  He must have really blew the opportunity.

as opposed to Sobotka... His 4:30 of ice time with the other two has resulted in a 41.67% corsi and 1 goal against. Good thing that is the top line tonight if Reinhart plays... should do great. At least if Sam plays we will get a bigger TOI and can really look at it. 

Edited by LGR4GM

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15 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

That line has only played 11:31 of 5v5 ice time together. They have a positive corsi and a positive goals for. 

I’m going to guess that the idea of Casey on the ice against the opposing teams best offensive players scares PH as mich as it scares me.

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2 hours ago, ... said:

I totally agree.  Pommenstein being "slow" wasn't necessarily a negative for his performance on that line.

So long as he was able to follow up the play generated by Eichel and Skinner, who would naturally draw most of the attention away from Pommers.  He could hobble his way to a high percentage zone.  No one expects the feeble old has-been to score a goal.

It’s an interesting discussion:

Pominville, Eichel and Reinhart combined when Pommers plays with Jack: 13 31 44, 16 games played

Pominville, Eichel and Reinhart combined when Reinhart plays with Jack: 18 53 68, 24 games played

One thing I think that has been overlooked is how Jack’s game took off when Reinhart was added. He’s had 11 of his 15 goals since the switch and his PPG rose too. Skinner doesn’t get him the puck and Pommers is even worse in that area.

The flip side is Jason is worse than useless away from Jack. Three points in the 21 games since being dropped from that line. Only Elie stands between him in worst player on the team status.

Maybe a solution is Jack with two of Okposo Sheary, Thompson, Smith or Rodrigues for a while?

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23 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

 

Dahlin and Scandella together is bad because Dahlin can't make ANY mistakes because Scandella can't cover. They should be split up. Either give Dahlin Pilut or McCabe. If not put him back with Bogo. 

Or is it bad because Scandella has to worry too much about covering for Dahlin? Not a fan of Scandella Dahlin. Less of a fan for making excuses for the kid. If other people have to cover him he shouldn’t be in the top 4.

21 minutes ago, ... said:

Wasn't Mitts given the opportunity to center Samson and Skinner the other day? It didn't last long, because the panic that has crept into his game is leading to bad decisions - can't do that against top-line defense.

3rd period vs Boston. worth a longer look, IMO but not until Jack comes back.

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I guess the thing is that with past failed coaches, post Lindy (even though Lindy suffered from many of these as well), there were several issues that stood out: player usage, team prep, system, and special teams.  Phil has addressed most of those in my opinion, and that includes player usage.  The tools he has for offense simply aren't broad/good/deep.  The only thing Phil really seems to have not addressed is the PP.  However, that, again, comes down to the tools available.  

The areas where the players are a major factor, usage (as in: how to decide who to use and where) and PP, are really not Phil's "fault" so much as it the "fault" of Murray and JBotts.  For the 10 game streak, Phil clearly was able to maximize his player usage.  I think that evidence stands, when the players are playing right, he knows how to use them.

Edited by ...
Here lies a reason for edit. Poor edit, we doth knew him not well.
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Actually the teams expected goal differential was better before the streak and has gone done after it. 

xGRolling.png

6 minutes ago, ... said:

The areas where the players are a major factor, usage (as in: how to decide who to use and where) and PP, are really not Phil's "fault" so much as it the "fault" of Murray and JBotts.  For the 10 game streak, Phil clearly was able to maximize his player usage.  I think that evidence stands, when the players are playing right, he knows how to use them.

No, his team won but he wasn't maximizing player usage. As to the second sentence, I see no evidence of that. 

I think his system is good for the most part at 5v5. Breakouts are 100% better this season and the defenders pinching is great. His player usage though leaves something to be desired. 

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My simplistic few of any coach.

 

They're stage coach drivers, if you don't have the horses that can run, you're left in the dust.

 

He's shuffled lines and pairings, some of his horses need a little more seasoning and others need to be set out to pasture.

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What bothers me is that when things are going well he tends to change up lines and whatnot for no apparent reason.      Or Ullmark will be playing well and he'll give Hutton the start.

He doesn't understand that things that aren't broken don't need fixing.

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1 hour ago, pi2000 said:

What bothers me is that when things are going well he tends to change up lines and whatnot for no apparent reason.      Or Ullmark will be playing well and he'll give Hutton the start.

He doesn't understand that things that aren't broken don't need fixing.

This goes back to the debate on how the organization has viewed this season: step 2 of a development plan, or first year of attempting to ice a competitive team.

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1 hour ago, pi2000 said:

What bothers me is that when things are going well he tends to change up lines and whatnot for no apparent reason.      Or Ullmark will be playing well and he'll give Hutton the start.

He doesn't understand that things that aren't broken don't need fixing.

Which explains why he has left the highest scoring 1st line we've had in years untouched since game #20...

 

oh wait.

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