There has been a bit of a critical bubble wrapped around the team. I can’t really blame specific individuals for poor play, because the team as a whole has been playing to the par of probably the AHL. I can certainly blame the coach, but I have already done that on multiple occasions, citing his inability to get the team on board with his program, and excited to play each game. I could certainly blame Mason, but that would be short sighted, considering he rarely has a chance thanks to a dismal defensive performance.
The likelihood that a specific piece of the puzzle will fall into place, reviving a third of a seasons worth of terrible play is minimal at best. There are so many holes in the current system, so many blown concepts (the all Swede line, are you serious!?) and stupid line combinations, and so many ‘optional’ skates, that really, putting the blame on anything would simply continue the current trend.
Bottom line, this team needs to stop finding excuses, and start finding solutions. Here are some of their comments, and my ‘what should be said’ retorts;
Them: “so and so is not performing, and it will take them rising to the occasion for this team to turn around in that area.”
Me: “Our team needs to strengthen itself in the defensive end, whether it takes a certain individual to raise their game, or whether the group as a whole can come together and start playing unified hockey.
Them: “Rick Nash needs to stop trying to trying to beat the entire team by himself.”
Me: “While we have certain individuals that are trying to elevate their individual game to raise the scoring opportunities, the best solution in the offensive zone is a strong cycling game with all five skaters moving their feet and opening lanes.”
Them: “The situation in net is dismal. Steve Mason is –insert blah blah stat statements pointing out his numbers– and will need to play better to help this team win games.”
Me: “Last year, this team prided themselves on stymy defense and tremendous, unlikely saves by our goaltender. If we want to compete in each game, it will have to be a collected effort to keep the scoring chances to a minimum, and the slot closed at all times. The saves will come with the confidence of not having to think there are players open in all areas of the slot.”
Them: “Ken Hitchcock is not at fault, because the players are not buying into his system.”
Me: “Hitchcock does not fit the style of hockey that would be suit the talent this team has. They are also skating lazy, and reaping the benefits of countless optional skates, and next to zero accountability when it comes to lazy play. We need a coach that can get these players into the right mindset.”
In the end, solutions are the only proper way to resolve a slumping team, not excuses or pointed fingers. The after game interviews are becoming more difficult than the game itself for the players, and that absolutely needs to stop. Accountability in the form of these examples can easily propel this team back into form.
Carry the Flag!