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Thread: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

  1. #501
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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    I'm going to edit down to the important parts of two of Dan's posts today, and cut to the chase. In short, I think it's a clear issue of coaching tactics WAY more than poring over raw data, and working to get the right guys with the right skill sets into the right positions to shore up a key special team issue where it's obvious improvement can be made. Let's start here ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    Most notably I often find their PK to be especially passive. I assume they do not wish to be caught out of position for easy back door goals, etc. That makes perfect sense, except it isn't working and too often they're giving opponents far too much time and space. When I watch the UNH PP (ranked 12th best in the country) they seem to have the worst go of it when opponents are aggressive Ö at the top of the zone. This can lead to getting beat for bad/easy/ugly goals against but it also leads to more rushed passes, turnovers and clears. The goals against might be unattractive, but does it really matter if you're giving up fewer?

    The staff also need to take a look at shaking up the PK units - even if the only number they're looking at is 30% goals against. The status quo isn't working. And finding out which players are excelling on the PK, or those who are struggling and making the right adjustments isn't ruinous. Its the coaches' job. I think anyone would have pegged Maass, Wyse, Blackburn, etc as their best PKers prior to the season. It SEEMS obvious, right? But the results are clear and using whatever they have at their disposal (video, eye tests, even numbers) to get to the bottom of things (potentially leading to something so terrible as math driven adjustments) is absolutely necessary if they want to maximize their potential success in 2020...
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    One thing that jumps out to me at the forward position on the PK is the guys they're relying on are the same guys they rely on to play big minutes 5x5 and play the PP. That adds up to a lot of ice time. I think they have capable PK type talents among their third and fourth line forwards and it would be interesting to me to see them experiment with more situational ice time for guys like MacAdams, Esposito, Engaras and Herrmann...
    See? Problem identified, both tactically (too much space, too passive up top) AND personnel-wise (3rd & 4th line forwards, with more energy and focus). Not at all unlike NHL-level coaches over the course of my lifetime, where guys like Harry Sinden (B's) and Scotty Bowman (Habs, etc. etc.) and most of their contemporaries - and probably well before them, but I can't comment on Toe Blake or Jack Adams or their ilk 'cuz I wasn't around back then - who would regularly identify 3rd and 4th line forwards (and sometimes even trade for them) to specifically handle PK duties. Nothing new and/or revolutionary there, requiring an army of analytics gurus. Heck - MS7 can refer back to his own college coach, who 20 years ago was sending out a kid like Johnny Rogers (and others like him) to kill penalties regularly, against the best and brightest of the opposition's PP units.

    As you stated Ö I don't care what the goals allowed look like, I just care that there are less allowed in the future than there have been so far this season. Back-door plays aren't as easy as they look - although they do look fantastic when then do come off. It's a PK, and the inherent part is it's supposed to be a disadvantage, so you're gonna have to live with giving up some goals anyway. So what if one of them might end up on "Sports Center" or something? It still only counts as one allowed Ö and as is often the case in those shows anyway, how often is it that you hear "Bla Bla scored this amazing goal tonight but Bla Bla's team lost 4-2"? BC has ALWAYS utilized a pressuring PK over most (if not all) of the years Coach York has been there. So press, be aggressive, set a tone, fortune favors the brave, etc.

    It's honestly not that complicated. Try stuff out, in real live game situations, and when it works, great. If it doesn't work - and it hasn't been working, we all agree - then try something else. What do you have to lose, when there's so much more to be gained. You're the coach - that's your job, and it's why you're here, and Coach Umile is sunning himself down in Cabo or Ibiza, or Rye.

    I'm 99.99% positive MS7 is already aware, and working on this anyway. Last night will just give him a terrific fresh example to discuss with the guys this week at practice. Because, as they say, "the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting a different result". And MS7 doesn't impress me as being insane. Or not yet anyway. JMHO.
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  2. #502
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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dorn View Post
    Dan,

    I think we are on the same page here. I do not like to be negative. I feel like I am observing an accident about to happen and I can't do anything about it.

    I do not know the answer here. It may be the wrong strategy with the right players. It may be the right strategy with the wrong players. Or it may be both the wrong strategy for this year's team and using the wrong players. I don't know, but it needs to be figured out.
    Not that you asked … but yeah, wrong approach (passive) and wrong players (at least up top - no issue with riding the top four defensemen). One would think Coach Guiliano would be familiar enough with how BC handled their more pressure-oriented PK's (IIRC he himself spent a fair amount of time on the PK units as a player) to inject some of that over into UNH's modern-day PK.

    There's always going to be more attacking zone space on the Olympic-sized surface, so that's always going to make things just a little more challenging for a PK unit. But if you drill the units to certain basics, and a certain more aggressive mindset, ice size shouldn't make that big a difference anyway. I guess what I'm saying is, don't expect changes tonight. But maybe starting next weekend ...
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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    One of the issues for UNH is that we play on an Olympic sheet of ice (100 feet wide) instead of the typical NHL (85 feet wide). This amounts to more than 17% more ice surface the team has to defend in the defensive zone. I believe the majority of the hockey world would say the bigger the ice surface the more passive the penalty kill needs to be.

    Last night, UNH had three players in the corner, within a couple of feet of the boards, just seconds before Providence scored their first power play goal. This particular play they were too aggressive. I believe the issue is not being too passive. I believe some players are too aggressive and getting themselves out of position, others are not defending the passing lanes properly and some players are doing a poor job trying to block shots. Too many times the shot blockers are not blocking the shot, they are screening our goalie.

    The one thing that needs to be mentioned that has not been mentioned yet: "The goalie always needs to be the team's best penalty killer".
    Last edited by Ray Dorn; 01-18-2020 at 05:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibber View Post
    It may have changed but in the 2006 women's Frozen four in Minnesota, Minnesota was awarded a penalty shot when replay showed a UNH defenseman (woman?) covered the puck in the crease.... it was pretty **** clear on TV last night
    Agreed, an illegal covering of the puck in the crease would be the exception to review for a possible penalty shot. I have not seen the questionable play from last night and was only responding to posts here.

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Ugh staved off the 5 min only to be scored on...sighhh

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    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    Ugh staved off the 5 min only to be scored on...sighhh
    Killing 5-min majors obviously wears a team down, but more important, taking 5-min majors is selfish and stupid, imho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snively65 View Post
    Killing 5-min majors obviously wears a team down, but more important, taking 5-min majors is selfish and stupid, imho.
    Could not agree more think that's his second game misconduct this season?...nice momentum the last few mins maybe we get something going in the third. Go 'Cats!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    Could not agree more think that's his second game misconduct this season?...nice momentum the last few mins maybe we get something going in the third. Go 'Cats!!
    Oh, and now I see that the third Friars goal was 10 secs after the Cats killed off their 5-min major, so I view that as essentially two PPGs for the Friars so far tonight. Bring back the UNH SMT's.

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Back
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snively65 View Post
    Oh, and now I see that the third Friars goal was 10 secs after the Cats killed off their 5-min major, so I view that as essentially two PPGs for the Friars so far tonight. Bring back the UNH SMT's.
    Anemic PK...anemic PP...Friars brought their game tonight. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It's not the result that bothers me tonight it's that I did not see any adjustments..hope we figure the issue out and fast. Souza was disappointed in his presser says they beat themselves I'd agree.

    Welp still glad to have the split onto UMass!!
    Last edited by HockeyRef; 01-19-2020 at 09:23 AM.

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Once Providence got the two goal lead the game was essentially over. They do an awfully good job of packing it in from center ice down to the face off circles. UNH would have had to convert on the PP but sadly we have little idea how to do that. Getting the puck down low around the crease seems to be a lost art for the Wildcats. I watched the Northeastern-UConn game this afternoon and both teams knew how to get the puck to the net. Not quite sure why we canít do the same.

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
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    Ya beat me to it 'Ref!

    No sense of urgency at all in the 3rd period down 3-1, not like we saw last night nor last week against NU. Pretty much mailed it in during the last ten minutes

    I will say this: They're in 8th place right now, two points ahead of Maine with one game in hand. The UConn weekend series I feel is going to dictate whether or not UNH is in the HE playoffs. And given that this is the worst special teams play that we have seen in some time, UNH could very easily join UVM and MC as the "outside teams looking in" come March. Can Souza figure it out? I honestly don't know.

    Just a frustrating game to watch tonight after playing so well for the past few weeks.....
    UNH

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    PWR yoyo from 22 to 15 to 18 in ~26 hours. But, at least we gained four PWR slots on the weekend, and we are now ahead of Army (and remain ahead of Bentley by 32 PWR slots). :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snively65 View Post
    PWR yoyo from 22 to 15 to 18 in ~26 hours. But, at least we gained four PWR slots on the weekend, and we are now ahead of Army (and remain ahead of Bentley by 32 PWR slots). :-)
    Well there you go!! Top 20 is a good thing! Also want to say what a great job Filip Engaras is doing..8 points in 5 games! His goal last night showed what a good forward he is...tio of the cap to Sato and Crookshank as well.
    Last edited by HockeyRef; 01-19-2020 at 07:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyRef View Post
    Well there you go!! Top 20 is a good thing! Also want to say what a great job Filip Engaras is doing..8 points in 5 games! His goal last night showed what a good forward he is...tio of the cap to Sato and Crookshank as well.
    AC now tied with eight others for 21st in number of goals scored in Div 1.

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Having to kill off five minute majors is never good, but I am OK with MacAdams taking one occasionally. His chippy play is a good thing.

    There is only so much practice time. Special teams will get better.

    Even with last night's result, the 'cats are learning how to win.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius View Post
    Having to kill off five minute majors is never good, but I am OK with MacAdams taking one occasionally. His chippy play is a good thing.

    There is only so much practice time. Special teams will get better.

    Even with last night's result, the 'cats are learning how to win.
    Appreciate this insight...

  18. #518
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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Quote Originally Posted by Darius View Post
    Having to kill off five minute majors is never good, but I am OK with MacAdams taking one occasionally. His chippy play is a good thing.

    There is only so much practice time. Special teams will get better.

    Even with last night's result, the 'cats are learning how to win.
    I'm on board with most of this. I'd rather players stop short of getting DQ'ed, but accept that if you play with an edge, it's gonna happen at some point. IIRC Patrick Foley got a couple during his UNH career, and he was arguably the guy who pushed the 'Cats from being the SMT's to a team that was capable of playing with an edge, and (not coincidentally) won some big games/hardware.

    Right now though, saying "special teams will get better" feels like we're just taking it on faith.

    I didn't see last night's game in its entirety - actually all of the live-time scoring (pre-ENG) was done by the time I got back - but based on replays, I think Taylor (who took his first L of the season last night) will want to have that first goal allowed back. The second and third looked like poor net-front coverage by the UNH D, and I didn't see #5 since I shut things down after the ENG.

    A split weekend would have been acceptable to most on here as of Friday afternoon, so I'm OK and look at it as a good step in the right direction. As Greg said, PC knows how to play with a lead, and UNH got no traction at all once they fell behind by two (right about when I first checked in). UMass will bring a different set of challenges next weekend. We'll see how MS7 and the boys cope.

    UNH still has multiple games in hand on most of the rest of the league, and is still a game over .500 in the league (and 3 overall), so I'm not concerned about qualifying for the playoffs - yet. That should be a given for any team with a league record of .500 or above in an 11 team league where 8 teams qualify. But if they don't get something out of next weekend - even a tie allows them to stay at .500 in the league - and then they fail to take care of business in the next four (very) winnable games, it could get a little bit TOO interesting. But a split next weekend, and 7 or 8 points out of the following two weekends, and UNH should be right in the middle of the league standings, possibly still with a game or two in hand over many of the others around them there.

    In the big picture, the bar is being gradually raised by UNH. They can be inconsistent and unpredictable, but they're winning a lot of games they would rarely have won in recent past seasons, and they're legitimately (slightly) over .500, and just outside the top 20 in PWR and in the polls. There seems to be more quality depth up and down the line-up than in recent past seasons, and there seems to be some positive action taking place on the recruiting front.

    There's a lot of good reasons for optimism, but patience is going to be required. In retrospect, at this point two seasons ago, the program was bottoming out, and it took some time to dig out of that last season, but they managed to do that. This season, our discussions are about more advanced issues, and more optimistic (and realistic) goals. This year's team should better last year's outcomes on all fronts - we'll see soon enough if that turns into reality or not. Maybe the biggest thing we're seeing is that MS7's teams may be shedding UNH of its long-standing (and mostly well-deserved) reputation as fast starters and slow finishers. "Champions of November" didn't get attached to the 'Cats by accident. I think a lot of us - myself included - have been seasoned to expect the second-half backslide more often than not, and it was refreshing to see last year's team reverse that in MS7's first season in total command. Post-break this season, UNH stands at 4-2-0, with 3 of those games against ranked opponents. Good.

    The reconditioning of the UNH program seems to be well underway. Signs are trending positively.

    Wouldn't it be great if MS7's boss did something to turn up the volume to the outside world??
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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    Quote Originally Posted by Darius View Post
    Having to kill off five minute majors is never good, but I am OK with MacAdams taking one occasionally. His chippy play is a good thing.

    There is only so much practice time. Special teams will get better.

    Even with last night's result, the 'cats are learning how to win.
    It just sucks that he was the biggest offensive presence we had on the ice last night. When I saw it was him that got the major (I saw the play happen but did not see who the player was) I figured that was going to be a big damper on the offense for the rest of the game, and it was. I was surprised both refs missed the call initially as it was right where they were all jamming for the puck in front of the UNH bench.

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    Re: UNH Hockey: Treading Water or Trending Upward

    There are a lot of positive things going on with this program. The play of Taylor this season is much improved from last season. We have two pretty solid goalies. Yes, the first goal last night was from a very poor angle, but maybe it was more about the shooting accuracy of the Providence player. He found the few inches that were open.

    The special teams are the main issues at this point of the season, especially the penalty kill. The more I look at the penalty kills and power play opportunities over the last few weeks one thing stands out to me, the face-off that starts the power play. If we win the draw and possession of the puck the chance of success (both penalty kill and power play) is a lot greater. I would make sure I had one of my best face-off players taking every draw. On the penalty kill, he could go for a line change as soon as we clear the zone. Focusing on face-off strategies and understanding their importance would go a long way with improving our special teams.

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