Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living in envy of Nashville

I just caught this snip from the CBC's Jeff Marek, host of Hockey Night in Canada Radio and the HNIC iDesk, relative to the Preds' first round, game one, 4-1 spanking of the Anaheim Ducks:
** Have to respect the Preds for exactly what they did last night against the Ducks: Stifled them at every turn. I won't bother to go over all the injuries and adversities that team has been through (we al know the drill) rather just focus on what it is they do with who they have. I spoke to former Pred Dan Hamhuis on our radio show the other day and he talked about how the Preds play systems in all areas of the ice. No matter where the puck is or who has it Nashville knows how to play. Also, next time you watch the Preds count how many players you see in your screen at any given time. In most situations you'll see at least 4 and often 5. They move as a 5 man unit and support each other all the way up and back down the ice. It helps, of course, when you have an all world netminder like Pekka Rinne and a defenseman like Shea Weber who hits like Scott Stevens and shoots like Al MacInnis.
I'll grant that Barry Trotz has had over 10 years to implement his system, and David Poile has had the same amount of time to get the people he needs to implement that system onto the Preds' roster. But gosh, wouldn't it be nice to be able to easily identify with a "Columbus system"? Not to deify Ken Hitchcock, but I think it was a lot easier to identify the Hitch system than the Arniel system.

Even after 82 games (and having watched easily 2/3 of them very, very closely), I'm still not sure I can explain what Arniel's system is all about. There are identifiable pieces, like defensemen who gamble by jumping into (or even leading) the offensive rush, or forwards who have to pass 12 times before shooting on a given rush. But I'm not sure what else there is, which is why I started to refer to the CBJ on-ice play as "Romper Room". Just a bunch of guys skating around, waiting for a random act of a puck going past a goalie.

Perhaps the real Arniel system (and Arniel-style players) will come with time. Until then, I'll just keep living in envy of what Poile and Trotz have created in Nashville.  With fewer salary dollars.

2 comments:

  1. Yes it HAS taken awhile for Trotz to refine his system, but ironically, it only happened as a result of his team hitting rock bottom after the sale in 2007 and even later, with the defection of Alex Radulov to the KHL following the 2007-08 season.

    That 2008-09 season was the only one in which the Preds have missed the playoffs since 2002-03, but it was also the year they finally 'got Trotz.'

    Only after the team was bereft of nearly all its previous high(ish)-scoring stars did everyone HAVE to buy into Trotz's all-out 2-way player system. It's successful, but only if everyone is on board.

    A lot of our own still don't like it; they say it's boring that it robs fans of more excitement. Every year there are plenty of folks clamoring to 'trade for a scorer.'

    But in reality, it's not boring hockey, it's playoff hockey, played 82 games a year. And personally, I wouldn't trade it for all the goals in China.

    Hang in there, my friend. :)

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  2. Agreed with AJ. When the team first got here, it was all about selling the game and not playing like the Dallas Stars were when they were on top. Eventually, Trotz and Poile has implemented a defense first persona that features two way forwards and offensive d-men.

    And it works. The Preds will never be the Caps, the Lightning, the Pens, or any team that's built off of top 10 draft picks lining their roster, but rather an attitude.

    Say what you want about the guy, but firing Ken Hitchcock wasn't the best move looking back.

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