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Why are we one of the worst in our own zone?

November 23, 2017

Being bad in our own zone has been an issue from the start of the year. Currently we sit 7th worst in the league allowing 33.1 shots per game. The only team worse than us that jumps out at me is the Jets at 33.8 shots per game. The other teams above us I see reasons why like the Ducks who have decimated roster or it shows in the win category like the Panthers who currently are a basement dweller in the league. The question is why do we allow so many shots per game.

We have arguably one of the best d-cores in the league with our top pairing of Gio & Hamilton being the best pairing in the NHL as per recent articles supported by some great advanced stats. So lets not put them in the blame game. Our second pairing has had some issues with both Brodie & Hamonic struggling on the advanced stats side and being a combined -14 in the old plus minus system. The first few games lets give them the out of the chemistry needed to be formed even with being paired up for pretty much all of pre season and practice. Then Hamonic got injured and by all accounts game back a game or two early so we can give them a couple games there. That's still not enough bad games out of the amount they have played to make them another top pairing that they have showed some nights. Hamonic by most peoples standard has not been as good as we hoped but i lay most of that at Brodies feet. Brodie looks a rover in our own zone most nights. Though this works great in Thursday night rec hockey it simply doesn't fly in the NHL. He body positions himself on the wrong side of his man looking for that offensive opportunity, he will rarely take the body with poke checking and going the other way on his mind and he puck watches waiting to bust in on the play instead of taking his man. Saying that he is good at all those things but the problem is when it doesn't work we are in big trouble in our zone. Yes his offensive stats are up, mostly those have come on the PP where his style of play works well but his overall play is down. Now by no means am i saying Brodie is the cause of all our defensive woes. Our Third d-pairing of Kulak and Stone have been good. Kulak has played very well getting more and more minutes from the coaches. His advanced stats are a very positive sign. Stone has been ok as well after they shuttled Bartowski to the press box. Our third pairing will stand against any other in the league. So besides one guys poor play and a little possible underachieving from Hamonic i don't think its our d-men causing the problem.

The Forwards i will not spend as much time on but we all know the 3m line is not going to be the cause of our defensive end woes. Monohans line i thought has played a good 200ft game specially for how on fire offensively they have been. Jankowski line could be a problem in our own zone but with most offensive zone starts they get some grace from spending as much time in our own zone. Our forth line for what they are paid for should least be acceptable in our zone. 

So i have eliminated the personal we are deploying being the issue. So it must be the system or style we are playing. I don't know of any stats i can turn to here so i am going by what i see. What i see is in our own zone we are content on keeping people to the outside. We do not apply a lot of pressure and pretty much every player in the NHL is quality enough that with some time and space they will make a good play. Now in saying that you cant simply apply more pressure cause with pressure comes getting beat from time to time so you need a change in how you want to play as a  team before you can do that. A great example of that is Gio. He applies the most pressure and is the best we have. Now what happens sometimes is that pressure gets the best of him and he needs backup. The players seem to know this about him and adjust for it. So i wonder why we don't have everyone follow that lead?


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