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RK’s system: What is it and does it work?


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I know it’s game one of season 2.  This is not posted as a bash RK thread.  I’ve done enough of that with some justification.

However @LGR4GM in a response to @steveoath did a nice job of describing part of RK’s system in the GDT last night and I thought it deserves its own thread.

LG wrote “Generally it seems he wants players to stay above the puck, aka be between the puck and your own goal. He also appears to want to run the offense from the point down. His d zone is completely unclear to me other than he wants an outlet pass in the center of the ice and along the wall. “

I personally like my teams to utilize a two man forecheck.  I also like my wingers to get behind the D men on offense.  If you watched Team USA, this is the basic system Nate Leaman used and used in the NCAA. 

I’ve never been perfectly clear on what RK’s system is.  He is supposed to be a defensive guru, and we had improved D results last year at even strength.  However I still have no idea what his actual approach is.  I also don’t see a firm offensive system. LG mentioned running the O from the point.  That can work if they get shots through and  our wingers get behind the defense, but I also see to much perimeter play and no one screening the goalie. Ray was screaming about this last night.  It was one of his keys to the game and I don’t think I saw a screen all night. 

So what is his system or team principals? 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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  • GASabresIUFAN changed the title to RK’s system: What is it and does it work?

The PK is terrifying. He put them in a diamond shape. The top player rotates with the puck high and the 2 middle players are there to jump out to the sides if the puck goes halfway. The issue and we saw it immediately last night is that it was leaving 2 players in front for 1 defender to cover. Washington had 1 player just off to the side of the net and one directly in front. They started shooting for the boards from the point and walls to get a bounce out to the uncovered player. 

The neutral zone I think is supposed to be a cross ice pass if possible for break outs. Sabre player enters the neutral zone and first wants that cross ice pass for the offensive zone break in. If not there is an outlet on their own side. Problem being the outlet is usually standing still. 

They seem to want to stay out of the center of the ice as much as possible because other than Staal who got leveled, there were very few rushes up the center. 

Defensively 5v5 they are 100% willing to give up the zone and to allow all the perimeter passing you want. Everyone seems to stay at the top of the circles or lower. 

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15 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

The PK is terrifying. He put them in a diamond shape. The top player rotates with the puck high and the 2 middle players are there to jump out to the sides if the puck goes halfway. The issue and we saw it immediately last night is that it was leaving 2 players in front for 1 defender to cover. Washington had 1 player just off to the side of the net and one directly in front. They started shooting for the boards from the point and walls to get a bounce out to the uncovered player. 

The neutral zone I think is supposed to be a cross ice pass if possible for break outs. Sabre player enters the neutral zone and first wants that cross ice pass for the offensive zone break in. If not there is an outlet on their own side. Problem being the outlet is usually standing still. 

They seem to want to stay out of the center of the ice as much as possible because other than Staal who got leveled, there were very few rushes up the center. 

Defensively 5v5 they are 100% willing to give up the zone and to allow all the perimeter passing you want. Everyone seems to stay at the top of the circles or lower. 

Does it seem like his PK is designed to defend against his style of PP? (Which I like, as you know, but which the majority of the league seems not to have adopted yet.)

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23 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

The PK is terrifying. He put them in a diamond shape. The top player rotates with the puck high and the 2 middle players are there to jump out to the sides if the puck goes halfway. The issue and we saw it immediately last night is that it was leaving 2 players in front for 1 defender to cover. Washington had 1 player just off to the side of the net and one directly in front. They started shooting for the boards from the point and walls to get a bounce out to the uncovered player. 

The neutral zone I think is supposed to be a cross ice pass if possible for break outs. Sabre player enters the neutral zone and first wants that cross ice pass for the offensive zone break in. If not there is an outlet on their own side. Problem being the outlet is usually standing still. 

They seem to want to stay out of the center of the ice as much as possible because other than Staal who got leveled, there were very few rushes up the center. 

Defensively 5v5 they are 100% willing to give up the zone and to allow all the perimeter passing you want. Everyone seems to stay at the top of the circles or lower. 

On numerous times, you would see the Washington forward enter the center scoring lane and walk in on goal.  The team defense is terrible.  This is completely on Steve Smith.  Krueger relies on his specialty coaches to coach up that side of the game.  If you recall that was pretty much brought up in his introductory press conference. That being said, Krueger needs to wake up, and fix this now, or else his head will be on the chopping block come game 28. 

Edited by TheCerebral1
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They brought in Eakin and Reider to play the PK... wtf was Skinner doing out there?   You put him on the 4th line because he doesn't play the system, which we all assume is because he's not committed defensively, but then you put him out on the PK?   The ***** are you doing RK?

Correction, it was in fact Rieder.

Edited by pi2000
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1 minute ago, pi2000 said:

They brought in Eakin and Reider to play the PK... wtf was Skinner doing out there?   You put him on the 4th line because he doesn't play the system, which we all assume is because he's not committed defensively, but then you put him out on the PK?   The ***** are you doing RK?

I don't recall seeing Skinner out there. Maybe you saw 13 as 53?

It was Rieder/Eakin to start, then Sheahan/Lazar.

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I dream of a day where the hockey is so good, we never speak of diamonds or forecheck schemes or PCWTMOACB (passes completed within two minutes of a commercial break).

Where we leave the theater with no interest in the camera angle the director used to shoot the critical scene or what percentage of the budget went to camera operators.

A movie so awesome, the experience of watching it was enough.

Hockey can be that. We so rarely get to see it in Buffalo, we've truly forgotten what it feels like. We should call a cop — we're being robbed.

I am sad when I read these threads. I do understand it's all we have.

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7 minutes ago, pi2000 said:

They brought in Eakin and Reider to play the PK... wtf was Skinner doing out there?   You put him on the 4th line because he doesn't play the system, which we all assume is because he's not committed defensively, but then you put him out on the PK?   The ***** are you doing RK?

They also brought in Irwin for the PK and they had our least responsible defensive defender on the ice in Brandon Montour.  It was a ***** show.

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1 minute ago, dudacek said:

I don't recall seeing Skinner out there. Maybe you saw 13 as 53?

It was Rieder/Eakin to start, then Sheahan/Lazar.

Correct, I went back and looked, it was in fact Rieder.

 

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Just now, pi2000 said:

Correct, I went back and looked, it was in fact Rieder.

 

That said, the problem with the PK is that it's too passive.   They let them waltz right into the zone and setup shop.    The best PKs in the league are aggressive, making teams uncomfortable on zone entries and aggressively attack the puck in the d-zone, which lead to turnovers.     That style will occasionally give up easy goals as it leaves at lease one, maybe two, guys unaccounted for, but it's more effective than just sitting back and trying to block shots and take away passing lanes in your own zone, because good teams like WSH, PHI, NYI, etc.. will eat you alive if you give them enough time and space.

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Worth mentioning that they were within a hair's breadth of a short-handed goal.  That was an aggressive kill.  I don't love the formation, though.

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2 minutes ago, Eleven said:

Worth mentioning that they were within a hair's breadth of a short-handed goal.  That was an aggressive kill.  I don't love the formation, though.

It was aggressive in that Sheahan chased down a loose puck on a race back into the WSH zone... which started the entire sequence.     I loved it, but want to see more of that type of aggressiveness in the neutral and d-zone.    Don't let them setup and get comfortable, attack at all times.

 

And it's not just on the PK, it's at even-strength as well.   THey play a tight box and don't challenge the puck or take away the points... it's ***** hockey, playing afraid,  scared to get burned by being too aggressive... that doesn't work, never has.     The only reason you play that passively is if you don't trust your ability to win 1-on-1 battles... as somehone who's played, it's more a mental thing IMO.    I believe it's why you see the "new guys" being more aggressive and confident on the defensive end.    RK needs to fix that, if he doesn't it's going to another long season.

Edited by pi2000
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Just now, Scottysabres said:

I don't believe we saw his system last night as he himself admitted he wasn't coaching, it was a "fun game", as he said.

I think tonight we may see his system. If he coaches tonight we can assess then, no?

The ***** is he getting paid for?    He basically took the night off, it's no wonder his team did as well.    The balls on this guy, telling the media he wasn't going to coach and let his guys have fun?   That's a fireable offense IMO.    You have a team that hasn't made the playoffs in 9 years, almost half the roster is new faces who have never played together before, a rookie playing the top 9, and you're not going to coach them?   

What was it a couple years ago that Phil Housley cancelled practice the day before their first game and they got smoked?     Now the coach decides he's "not coaching" the first game?   What next, they gonna forfeit the first game come October?

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People are making way too much of this "not coaching" thing IMO.

I get it, if you don't like RK then this is about as good a one-liner that you can have to use as ammo against him, but c'mon. It's the team's first game in almost a year - play on instinct and get the feel of playing hockey again as opposed to getting grilled on the tiny details right off the bat. I don't think it's crazy or uncommon to the rest of the league. His biggest mistake was letting it go public.

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Boy is that quote being misinterpreted.

He didn't take the game off, he made a deliberate decision to not overload the players with a heavy push of game day information because he wanted them to relax and just play. The implication was that the prep had already been done, and the system would come naturally, not be abandoned.

It was the wrong tactical decision given the way the players played and it should be criticized.

But let's target the right thing.

Edited by dudacek
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10 minutes ago, fiftyone said:

People are making way too much of this "not coaching" thing IMO.

I get it, if you don't like RK then this is about as good a one-liner that you can have to use as ammo against him, but c'mon. It's the team's first game in almost a year - play on instinct and get the feel of playing hockey again as opposed to getting grilled on the tiny details right off the bat. I don't think it's crazy or uncommon to the rest of the league. His biggest mistake was letting it go public.

 

6 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Boy is that quote being misinterpreted.

He didn't take the game off, he made a deliberate decision to overload the players a heavy push of game day information because he wanted them to relax and just play. The implication was that the prep had already been done, and the system would come naturally, not be abandoned.

It was the wrong tactical decision given the way the players played and it should be criticized.

But let's target the right thing.

I'm undecided on Krueger and mostly just having fun with the quote, when commenting about it at all.  But it's a bad look for a team that has been bottom-feeding, and if Krueger is the leadership master that he is touted to be, he had to have known that.

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1 minute ago, Eleven said:

 

I'm undecided on Krueger and mostly just having fun with the quote, when commenting about it at all.  But it's a bad look for a team that has been bottom-feeding, and if Krueger is the leadership master that he is touted to be, he had to have known that.

Agree on that much. Optics -- not so good. 

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It's always a red flag when the players like a coach too much.   You want a friend? Look to the guy next to you on the bench, not the coach.  

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1 minute ago, pi2000 said:

It's always a red flag when the players like a coach too much.   You want a friend? Look to the guy next to you on the bench, not the coach.  

No kidding, I wish we had Torts or Mike Keenan as our coach.

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4 minutes ago, freester said:

No kidding, I wish we had Torts or Mike Keenan as our coach.

Ha yeah I've always liked Torts, doesn't have to be that extreme thought.

At some point this franchise needs to decide if they care more about their players feelings or actually winning games.

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A big part of Krueger's professed system is playing at a high pace and getting pressure on the puck.  (Obviously, the PK has had a different philosophy, likely due to a fear of giving up slot shots on Hutton.)  Think back to the Pittsburgh & Joisey games to kick off the season last year.

The game was not played at a high pace last night as players really seemed to not know where their teammates would be.  As the game went on, they got better in that department; but in the 1st, except for the PP where they scored quickly, they were thinking, not skating.  It looked like the 1st time out trying to understand Bylsma's 12 whiteboard game plans.

Krueger also since sometime mid-season last year has a tendency to run the Eichel line vs the other team's top line.  When it isn't working (like last night & when playing the Bruins) he needs to change that up.  Ovi's line ate their lunch, though not as badly as when Lavialette got that line out against Skinner's line.  (Ouch.)

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I find it interesting that we are bashing Krueger for being too much of a player's coach at the same time we are bashing him for not letting Skinner play his game.

Must be different posters, right?

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Just now, dudacek said:

I find it interesting that we are bashing Krueger for being too much of a player's coach at the same time we are bashing him for not letting Skinner play his game.

Must be different posters, right?

What?  You aren’t part of the SS hive mind?  Huh?

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29 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Boy is that quote being misinterpreted.

He didn't take the game off, he made a deliberate decision to overload the players a heavy push of game day information because he wanted them to relax and just play. The implication was that the prep had already been done, and the system would come naturally, not be abandoned.

It was the wrong tactical decision given the way the players played and it should be criticized.

But let's target the right thing.

You will see teams in pickup games at a local rec rink with more structure and cohesiveness than the Sabres did last night. There's no way to sugar coat it: that performance was simply embarrassing. Compare and contrast that to say, the Devils who got a point playing the Brooinz. Maybe instead of hiring a slick talking motivational speaker we could try hiring someone who has a proven track record of success as an NHL coach no?

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