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What did we learn from the Prospects Challenge?

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20 minutes ago, ... said:

This is something I definitely noticed.

RK mentioned in the interview they really only had a day to practice with him (as I understood /recall it), but that these guys had been working with the Amerks' coaches. If nothing else, aside from the blueline, their attacking the front of the net was distinctly un-Sabre like.  They have had the summer to sort out and discuss a framework for the system, and, again, other than instructing the D on how to manage the blueline, some simple instruction on getting to the front of the net is not out of the realm of possibility.

Krueger has been working since May, if you read the Sabres article, on creating the system they will use. I bet parts of that system were implemented in this tourney. The blueline defense stood out to me, it seemed different. Whether that sticks with the Sabres I can't say but it appears they want to play the blueline more aggressively.

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2 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

Krueger has been working since May, if you read the Sabres article, on creating the system they will use. I bet parts of that system were implemented in this tourney. The blueline defense stood out to me, it seemed different. Whether that sticks with the Sabres I can't say but it appears they want to play the blueline more aggressively.

Yes, that's what I was alluding to.  He also said that these kids were simply not in the physical shape to implement a lot of the system.  He also said that the system is still being developed and it will still be in development as the season starts.  Most of this can be put in the other thread. 

Even with the limited time he had with the prospects, their limited ability to implement the system, and the unfinished nature of the system, I agree with you that they were likely instructed on how to manage the blue line, and, again, to take the play to the front of the net.  I think the prospects would be able to absorb and implement such simple instruction.

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7 minutes ago, ... said:

Yes, that's what I was alluding to.  He also said that these kids were simply not in the physical shape to implement a lot of the system.  He also said that the system is still being developed and it will still be in development as the season starts.  Most of this can be put in the other thread. 

Even with the limited time he had with the prospects, their limited ability to implement the system, and the unfinished nature of the system, I agree with you that they were likely instructed on how to manage the blue line, and, again, to take the play to the front of the net. I think the prospects would be able to absorb and implement such simple instruction.

Let's hope that Krueger keeps this in mind as he implements his systems with the big squad.  The concepts behind what he wants them to do can be highly elaborate, but when they're on the ice the methods to implement those concepts have to be simple enough that they can be followed instinctively.

As soon as other teams started cycling, if any Sabre lost his focus it was not infrequent that more than 1 Sabre could be observed trying to figure out what he was supposed to do to get back to making the system work during the last couple of years.

 

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How's Pekar really pronounced?  Is it really "Pee Kar", or is it "Peks cash"?  Some of the older folks here might remember Stanislav Neckar, and he pronounced his last name "Neks cash".

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18 minutes ago, Taro T said:

Let's hope that Krueger keeps this in mind as he implements his systems with the big squad.  The concepts behind what he wants them to do can be highly elaborate, but when they're on the ice the methods to implement those concepts have to be simple enough that they can be followed instinctively.

As soon as other teams started cycling, if any Sabre lost his focus it was not infrequent that more than 1 Sabre could be observed trying to figure out what he was supposed to do to get back to making the system work during the last couple of years.

In the article and the post-prospect challenge interview, it sounds like they're putting a lot of effort into exactly what you're talking about.  Defining terms, establishing a way to clearly communicate what they want to communicate, and simplifying the instruction as much as possible.  

This is why this discussion has kind of spilled over here, though, because I think what LGR is touching on, and I agree, is that if some of the differences we saw during these prospect games are a result of the work done by RK and krew so far, and if they were indeed easy to absorb by the prospects, this is a positive development on the coaching front.

Clearly, we don't really know if any of what we saw was the result of RK and krew, but I think it's safe to say we all should hope it was.

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42 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

Krueger has been working since May, if you read the Sabres article, on creating the system they will use. I bet parts of that system were implemented in this tourney. The blueline defense stood out to me, it seemed different. Whether that sticks with the Sabres I can't say but it appears they want to play the blueline more aggressively.

Is that really a surprise given Jbot’s focus since last off-season?

In the last 12 months he has added on D - Dahlin, Pilut, Montour, Miller, Jokiharju, and Gilmour, plus he drafted Laaksonen and Johnson.  All these guys skate, move the puck and to varying degrees want to contribute on offense.  Only holdover Borgen and the drafting of Samuelsson are “out of character” except both guys are working on their skating and offense.  It was nice to see Borgen step up offensively in the prospect games.  Jbot clearly has a vision of how he wants his team to play and hired a coach to execute that vision. 

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33 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Is that really a surprise given Jbot’s focus since last off-season?

In the last 12 months he has added on D - Dahlin, Pilut, Montour, Miller, Jokiharju, and Gilmour, plus he drafted Laaksonen and Johnson.  All these guys skate, move the puck and to varying degrees want to contribute on offense.  Only holdover Borgen and the drafting of Samuelsson are “out of character” except both guys are working on their skating and offense.  It was nice to see Borgen step up offensively in the prospect games.  Jbot clearly has a vision of how he wants his team to play and hired a coach to execute that vision. 

But what Borgen and Samuelsson appear to be able to do very well is step up and meet the rush at the blueline and aggressively get after the puck carrier in the defensive zone, so not really out of character at all in terms of the game the Sabres want to play; they get the puck back.

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45 minutes ago, ... said:

In the article and the post-prospect challenge interview, it sounds like they're putting a lot of effort into exactly what you're talking about.  Defining terms, establishing a way to clearly communicate what they want to communicate, and simplifying the instruction as much as possible.  

This is why this discussion has kind of spilled over here, though, because I think what LGR is touching on, and I agree, is that if some of the differences we saw during these prospect games are a result of the work done by RK and krew so far, and if they were indeed easy to absorb by the prospects, this is a positive development on the coaching front.

Clearly, we don't really know if any of what we saw was the result of RK and krew, but I think it's safe to say we all should hope it was.

What differences in the prospect games? The Sabres were literally better in last year's prospect games, with Tage, Mitts, And Dahlin in the fold. I mean I guess I only watched 1.5 of these ones, but quite frankly I saw less accurate passing and otherwise not much else was different. 

The puck dominance in last year's BUF-NJ game was something that didn't get approached this year.

We're 10000000% projecting here. 

Edited by Randall Flagg
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1 minute ago, Randall Flagg said:

What differences in the prospect games? The Sabres were literally better in last year's prospect games, with Tage, Mitts, And Dahlin in the fold. I mean I guess I only watched 1.5 of these ones, but quite frankly I saw less accurate passing and otherwise not much else was different. 

We're 10000000% projecting here. 

The difference per the way the Sabres' have been playing in general.  It wasn't some major system mechanic, just a different approach, or, maybe it's better to say, a different look, to D and O, notable in how they were distinctly different from the Sabres we've come to know and loathe.  These have already been mentioned.  The D would stop at the O blue line, almost abruptly, which is in contrast to the D trying to carry the puck in more often than not.  I also thought they stood up at the D blue line way more than I recall the Sabres doing.

The offense hardly ever circled to the outside, but instead would nearly instantly draw to the net. Pucks in the O zone corners didn't stay along the wall, but, again, were put to the front of the net.

I have already admitted we don't know if we can credit RK for this.  I understand you're highly doubtful.

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51 minutes ago, ... said:

The difference per the way the Sabres' have been playing in general.  It wasn't some major system mechanic, just a different approach, or, maybe it's better to say, a different look, to D and O, notable in how they were distinctly different from the Sabres we've come to know and loathe.  These have already been mentioned.  The D would stop at the O blue line, almost abruptly, which is in contrast to the D trying to carry the puck in more often than not.  I also thought they stood up at the D blue line way more than I recall the Sabres doing.

The offense hardly ever circled to the outside, but instead would nearly instantly draw to the net. Pucks in the O zone corners didn't stay along the wall, but, again, were put to the front of the net.

I have already admitted we don't know if we can credit RK for this.  I understand you're highly doubtful.

I completely disagree. Because of the talent gap between this year's and last year's rosters at this camp, we played worse hockey this year, including at all that fundamental stuff. The D group was Dahlin - Borgen - Pilut - Laaksonen - Guhle and fillers. These guys smothered people at the blue line, and did it better than the weaker names did this year. 

If we're comparing them to the Sabres themselves, then sure - but Housley, in his own words, talked about doing the same thing. The problem is that this year Ristolainen, Scandella etc. simply couldn't risk doing this without falling on their faces and getting blown past. Their general "backing off" was never a coaching instruction and quite frankly wasn't as severe as has been claimed this summer. And compare Scandella this past year to Scandella under the same coach in 17-18 - something happened to that man, because when I re-watched games after that season I was stunned at how good he was at stopping rushes even ABOVE the blue line, while his main trick was to ride guys into the corner and then snuff them out and separate them from the puck. He didn't do anything close to that this year, and it wasn't a coaching thing. Perhaps people saw Scandella's 17-18 tactics as being soft on the blue line, but it was calculated and effective. And it probably made him skirt positive grades on "zone entry allowance" charts. But the point is, there is no coach in the NHL that wants their defensemen backing off the blue line, and a lot of defenders whose talent level dictates that it's the pragmatic thing to do, and even if Krueger will somehow get these same guys to do it more often, it certainly would not have already manifested in a meaningful way in this prospect tournament, in which they were actually a bit worse at every basic good hockey fundamental like that example than they were last year under the last regime, purely because of talent differences. 

Also, as I'm skimming last year's prospect thread, there have been more than one comment about Thompson being ahead of everyone else on the ice in both strength AND speed, to help bolster a comparison you made on Friday to Cozens. 

 

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I'm with Randall on this, and I'm not getting hooked again.   Last year everything got me excited about the sabres during the summer.  

Prospect challenge rarely means anything, only good thing is they did well against their own age group and that is even a bit of a stretch with 3 24 year olds.

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I'm looking forward to seeing Brett Murray get some time in Rochester..... hopefully. Also looking forward to returning to Froth Brewing. We stopped for a couple Saturday afternoon before the Boston game.

 

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3 hours ago, Taro T said:

'Bout the only 2 things that we can really take away from this is:

1. the Sabres prospects (collectively) are better than Boston, Pittsburgh (does anybody really expect that a non-invite goalie would've been lit up as bad as Welch was?), and NJ's prospects; which except possibly for Joisey should be the case as Buffalo has been drafting higher than them for the better part of the decade; and

2. in a simplified version of what we can likely expect to see with the big club, the team played an entertaining brand of hockey.  The kids had pace, kept good gaps, made quick, typically accurate passes, and forechecked hard.

It was entertaining and gives hope that we'll see a few of these guys in B&G in the next 2-3 seasons.  It also gives hope that with Eichel & Dahlin still young and filling the key roles up front and on the back line that the team won't have to go FA to fill holes (rather they can use it to supplement existing strengths) but rather can fill holes through callups & /or trades.  (It's very possible that the team will build up a surplus of D talent that can get traded for established F talent if necessary.  Botterill SEEMS to have an eye for D talent.  We'll know soon if that's real or just perception.)

We learned this from the tournament? Pittsburgh technically won. 

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52 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

Also, as I'm skimming last year's prospect thread, there have been more than one comment about Thompson being ahead of everyone else on the ice in both strength AND speed, to help bolster a comparison you made on Friday to Cozens. 

He's still not as fast as Cozens, though. 

https://hfboards.mandatory.com/threads/tage-thompson-1.2512063/

Edited by Thorny

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11 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

Detail...

Also, as I'm skimming last year's prospect thread, there have been more than one comment about Thompson being ahead of everyone else on the ice in both strength AND speed, to help bolster a comparison you made on Friday to Cozens. 

On the detail.  I don't think anyone is looking at this as detailed as you are.  It is, after all, a prospect camp at the end of summer.  It looked different relative to the NHL club's play last season.  You provided some detail as to why that could be true.  Thank you. 

You have to admit that despite the analysis, you, or none of us, know how far along and the level at which RK and his staff have made changes.  In this particular instance, I am not ascribing major tactics, teaching, and strategies to RK and staff, just a basic instruction that resulted in a look that was distinct enough from the main club from the last season to take note.  It seems reasonable enough to consider it possible.  After that, I'm personally not willing to give it any more thought or time.

Because we will know by the end of this month what the reality is more likely to be.  I hope we have more than a glorified Teddy, and I'm looking for signs, but I am not ready to condemn or praise yet.  

 

36 minutes ago, Huckleberry said:

I'm with Randall on this, and I'm not getting hooked again.   Last year everything got me excited about the sabres during the summer.  

Prospect challenge rarely means anything, only good thing is they did well against their own age group and that is even a bit of a stretch with 3 24 year olds.

I'm totally with you.  I think what LGR and I might be seeing is being blown out of proportion here.

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1 hour ago, Thorny said:

We learned this from the tournament? Pittsburgh technically won. 

And take the kid that isn't even in the Sabres system out of the net and put Johansson (yes, Jo-friggin'-hanson) and the Sabres almost definitely win that game.  Last I checked, going 3-0 says you won; again, which they'd've done had Luukkonnen been available or had they given Johansson all 3 games.

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3 minutes ago, Taro T said:

And take the kid that isn't even in the Sabres system out of the net and put Johansson (yes, Jo-friggin'-hanson) and the Sabres almost definitely win that game.  Last I checked, going 3-0 says you won; again, which they'd've done had Luukkonnen been available or had they given Johansson all 3 games.

 But dat's why dey play da games, eh. 

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Just now, Thorny said:

 But dat's why dey play da games, eh. 

It is.  But, I stand by my original statement that you take issue with.

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1 minute ago, Taro T said:

It is.  But, I stand by my original statement that you take issue with.

I'm not really even disagreeing with it, I just don't think a tournament like this can give us a definitive indication one way or the other. Plenty of our prospects didn't even play and I can only assume it was that way for the other teams too. 

Edited by Thorny

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I think it was as simple as, our kids were better than their kids, not our scheme is better than their scheme.  Close gaps, puck pressure, quick transitions are all things that happen when you have the more talented squad on the ice.  When you are the better team you tend to be more aggressive.

If anything points to how much of our last few seasons are the result of coaching/schemes and how much is related to the on ice talent, tourneys like this do it.  P-burgh has a very effective team system.  So does Boston.  I'm sure their kids got just as much schooling into their system as ours did,  Yet our kids looked great against them.  It's not our scheme, which is still being devised and installed.  It's the talent that was on the ice.

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https://theathletic.com/1200172/2019/09/11/analyzing-what-the-prospects-challenge-showed-about-how-ralph-krueger-could-model-the-sabres-style-of-play/

A very interesting read for those who are also members

How they’re going about this is similar to how Team Europe did it in 2016 with a 2-1-2 setup.

Quote

Two forecheckers are sent in to apply pressure to the puck carrier and his support. One forward goes after the initial puck carrier while the second forechecker gets right up on one of the opponent’s support skaters. This forces the puck carrier to either make a rash decision or not make their reads correctly, which can lead to turnovers. The Devils had a lot of trouble handling this pressure and committed turnovers in their own zone or the neutral zone that led to odd-man rushes.

Quote

 Another factor in how the Sabres prospects managed to change how the game was played was gap control. Defensemen were up closer on attacking forwards and forcing them to dump the puck into the zone or face the wrath of their coaches for turning it over in the neutral zone.

Sounds like a plan.

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Was that a strategy they implemented with Europe because they didn’t feel they had the talent to compete with the top teams? Or was it not that at all? I can’t quite remember what the optics seemed to be pre-tournament for Europe but I don’t think going in they were expected to be the threat they ended up being. 

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16 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Was that a strategy they implemented with Europe because they didn’t feel they had the talent to compete with the top teams? Or was it not that at all? I can’t quite remember what the optics seemed to be pre-tournament for Europe but I don’t think going in they were expected to be the threat they ended up being. 

It was the Euro strategy

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13 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

https://theathletic.com/1200172/2019/09/11/analyzing-what-the-prospects-challenge-showed-about-how-ralph-krueger-could-model-the-sabres-style-of-play/

A very interesting read for those who are also members

How they’re going about this is similar to how Team Europe did it in 2016 with a 2-1-2 setup.

Sounds like a plan.

Sweet! I didn't see any of the Prospect tournament but I definitely prefer the 2-1-2 set up. I can't count how many times over the last decade I've seen our guys figuratively ***** their pants on a repeated basis against an aggressive forecheck then see Buffalo consistently send a single forechecker out against them that the other team easily skates and passes around. If you can't regularly send at least 2 guys in on the forecheck then you might as well just clog the neutral zone and play trap hockey. One forechecker is pointless 99% of the time.

Edited by Drunkard
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