FanPost

How to define the St. Louis Game.

Was the February 9th game on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues just one of those games that turned to be crazy such that the coaches should throw away the tape or are we ignoring some flaws? Originally, I thought it was one of those games where everyone is scoring and the goalies do not have a matter of say on it. During the weekend I read up on an analysis of Hiller’s play this season and the majority of the power play goals scored were due to Hiller not seeing the puck because he was being screened and his lack of confidence due to being rusty. Then while watching the next Ducks’ game versus the ‘Hawks I noticed how we gave up a power play goal where Fasth was screened. I see a trend and it became that much more obvious when I watched a replay of the St. Louis game yesterday.

Let us review the goal scoring, from my perspective courtesy of DVR.

Ana @ StL Goal Tracker

Per

Goal

Team

Description

Luck or by

Design

1

0 – 1

StL

PPG. Fasth screened.

Design

1

1 – 1

Ana

ES Goal. Ryan long shot.

Soft goal.

Luck

1

1 – 2

StL

ES Goal. Fasth screened.

Design

1

1 – 3

StL

ES Goal. Big fat rebound!

Both

2

2 – 3

Ana

ES Goal. Luck bounce off a defenseman.

Luck

2

3 – 3

Ana

ES Goal. Luck bounce off end boards from a missed wide shot down low.

Luck

2

4 – 3

Ana

ES Goal. Ryan roofs it.

Design

3

4 – 4

StL

ES goal. Fasth fell asleep at the wheel. I can’t explain this soft goal.

Luck

3

5 – 4

Ana

ES Goal. Tic-Tac-Toe passing leads to a half open net for Koivu.

Design

3

5 – 5

StL

PPG. Souray lost his man down low and interfered with Fasth so Fasth had no chance to pounce for the rebound.

Fasth had given a rebound goal earlier in the game and that’s what the Blues reproduced.

Design

The St. Louis Blues kept their game plan simple. On offense, they crowd the net and shoot from the point. Their power play scheme did not deviate from such a boring, yet effective plan as the Blues went 2 for 2 on the power play. On defense, the plan was to play tight to each player whether they have the puck or not. Only way to beat that is to keep skating. Anaheim’s first, fourth, and fifth goals came as a result of skating fast to where you can lose your opponent.

Yet the first three Anaheim goals scored were of the fortuitous kind. Sometimes, you have to create luck to be lucky. Since the season has started, this team, from top to bottom, usually puts in a lot of effort in spite of the revolving, ever changing lineups. It’s a testament to bringing in their lunch pail everyday to work.

In my research on interference calls, I have noticed a trend of interference calls dying down. I don’t know whether the refs are swallowing their whistles or there’s a scheme out there preventing most interference infractions from being called. It’s probably both as we have been in games where everything goes and no calls are made. This last St Louis game had only three penalties called. There have been other games where the whistle was swallowed and the referees allowed a physical game to be played like against the Wild earlier in the season. But this St. Louis game has opened my eyes. They don’t play a trap, slow-the-game down scheme, but a rather play closer man-to-man game to prevent a fast transition game from developing. The only flaw with that type of game is are your players timing the engagement correctly as well as taking the correct angle simultaneously.

If you can’t beat them, join ‘em! I saw the Ducks play a little bit tighter the next game versus the ‘Hawks. They were implementing what St. Louis was doing against them in the previous game. In engaging the player earlier, the defender has the ability direct where the opposing player would want to go with the puck, take away a clear passing lane, or take away a bigger shooting angle to the goalie.

Shooting angle to the goalie segues onto the Ducks’ problems on defense, especially on the power play. A majority of the PP goals given up by Hiller have come with him being screened often. Fasth’s three power play goals have all been because he was screened, two with St. Louis and one against the ‘Hawks. This bad habit needs to be addressed often. These habits hurt our goaltenders. There are a couple of ways to help our goalies see the puck:

1. Our defenders need to step into the shooting player to close off certain shooting angles.

2. Our defenders need to clear people in front of the net (risky to do as it can lead to another penalty.)

3. Our defenders need to talk to our goalies and vice versa .

4. Our defenders need to just focus on their job and let our goaltenders do their job.

Here’s an instance of good play versus bad play from the same player, Souray. In one play, Souray skates towards the point shooter with his legs closed tight together. In doing so, he takes away that shooting lane and any possible weird deflections through his legs. That’s a great defensive play. In another instance, point shot is released to one side of Fasth. Fasth was in position and no one else was between Fasth and the puck. Souray was out of position, over-reacted and threw his stick into the shooting lane; negating Fasth’s agility to be positionally sound for that shot. The result was the puck deflected off of Souray’s stick shaft and over Fasth for a goal.

Our defenders need to use their skates and they should trust their goalie to be in position. What was that quote from Kung Fu Panda, "It’s when you’re trying to prevent a problem is when you cause the problem." I’m paraphrasing. It is embarrassing to know our penalty killers are this bad to our goalies as we are ranked 29th for the second week in a row while rising in the ranks of giving up more PP goals in one week, from 7th to 3rd overall. What makes it even more embarrassing is we rank in the bottom third in the NHL for being penalized at #23.

Now, as the game went into overtime, the Ducks were down a man twice in the short five minute period. I wasn’t worried about killing off both penalties because there are fewer players on the ice. With few players on the ice, then there are less likely chances to screen Fasth from making a play on the puck with the style that St. Louis was playing, which is shooting from the point or perimeter hoping to have a screen set up. And with three men for the Ducks, those three players work in concert so much better as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, without Fasth, our Ducks’ team would be in a world of trouble. Sure we’re great on even strength, but our Achilles’ heel is our special teams play. In the last goal versus St. Louis, the ‘Hawks netted a PP goal. Souray was attached to Stearts’s hip. Stewart drifted away and Souray neglected his duty to follow Stewart. A shot came through and Fasth stopped it, but the rebound lay flat in front of him. Fasth could have gotten to the puck, but since Souray didn’t follow Stewart , Souray was in front of Fasth and interfered with Fasth from recovering the puck. That’s twice that I’ve denoted Souray not trusting his netminder and trying to do too much as opposed to focusing on his job. Leave the hero stuff to Fasth.



This article is user-generated. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Anaheim Calling. Please do not link this article as representative of Anaheim Calling content or viewpoints . . . unless it's <em>really</em> really good.

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