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Quick Hits: The Collapsing Edition

Supernova Photo by: QAI Publishing/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In Red Wings Land

Red Wings once again look to regroup, tighten up at home - MLive

“We’re going to get back to work and get better, especially in our D-zone coverage,” Blashill said. “We can’t give up nearly the number of chances we gave up. But we did create lots of chances. Our guys stayed with it in a tough environment. I’m happy for that but we got to grow here. We got to get back, take a breath and be ready for a big game on Tuesday.”

No details on what exactly that means. There was a discussion in Friday’s gamethread about how the Wings collapse too much around their net and I wanted to open up the discussion around that.

The in-zone collapse is honestly a pretty common way teams play defense. The benefit of it is that it’s incredibly hard to get puck possession in areas where you’re likely to score and it allows for more-structured breakouts. The drawback is that biding time playing a shell waiting for a team to get frustrated or make a bad pass leaves you doing that in your own zone and your mistakes are more likely to be disastrous than theirs.

The alternative to collapsing a lot is chasing the puck a lot. Being more aggressive for hits along the boards or pressure up at the points will leave players with royal-road passes and lanes to the slot much more often. The give-and-go pass from the point/half-wall murders an aggressive in-zone defense and it’s that much harder to cover the immediate net-front when you’re trying to chase a guy behind your net.

On the other side, it’s harder for the other team to make a perfect pass to get those high-danger chances and it can lead to fast-strike transition the other way.

Ultimately, the best way to defend your own zone is to never let teams possess the puck there. Backchecking to slow transition and having your defenders make good reads on when to step into people trying to move up the ice is my favorite defensive scheme.

Around the League

NHL admits mistake on Sabres disallowed goal against Rangers - NHL.com

“The original call on the ice, ‘good goal,’ should have stood because video replay could not definitively determine that the stick of Buffalo player Victor Olofsson touched the puck before Rasmus Dahlin tagged up. In instances when video replay cannot definitively determine a play, League policy is to stay with the original call on the ice.”

I’d like to say “imagine they did this to a team in the playoff hunt but I don’t feel they would have.

NHLPA says lack of clarity about COVID-19 protocols has players uncertain about participating in Winter Olympics - ESPN

Any player with a confirmed positive test must produce two negative tests that are 24 hours apart, or the quarantine period can last from 21 days to five weeks. Where that would take place, and whether there is a possibility a player could leave China rather than quarantining there, are among the issues the NHLPA is waiting for clarity about.

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As part of the agreement to go to the Games, “players who miss time due to COVID, related to the Olympics, will not be paid under their standard players’ contracts,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.

The IIHF will provide a $5 million fund for any lost salary for players who participate in Olympic qualifiers or the Games. But after that pool dries up, players could lose salary if they are unable to play after the season restarts.

The important thing to remember about anything Gary Bettman or Don Fehr says about this situation is pure jockeying. Bettman doesn’t want the players going and if he can make that all their fault of course he’s going to do that. The agreement is in-place as-is and the only way it can change is a benefit to what the NHL wants so they’ll hold to the agreement all while reminding folks it’s basically beyond their control at this point (because it is).