Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:24 PM
It's pretty much insane to suggest that Claude should go. As in, "I'm not sure you've even watched hockey before" insane. His "system" is not to sit back and protect the lead and try to win 1-0. It's to get back and pressure the puck on the backcheck so that you can turn and go with speed across a consistent ice depth and attack a defense in transition. It's a relentless forecheck and cycling that outworks the opponent to the point where they get their scoring chances on shots from the points, rebounds, and net front passes out of the corner. This system can work. It can work with offensively gifted players (see 08-09) and it can work with a balanced yet talented team (last year). And when the offense isn't there, the defense should be able to tighten up and try to grind out those 2-1 wins. He coached his ass off in the playoffs last year, and he has not been shy in tinkering and making adjustments this year. I am a much bigger Claude supporter than most, and felt vindicated by it last year, but even his harshest critics (*cough* Haunted I love you *cough*) would probably agree with me that he is not the issue right now.
Now, in 8 out of the 10 games, this system hasn't really worked as designed. But it's not his system that's at fault. It's the players, because they aren't coming close to doing what they are supposed to be doing. They are getting caught 3 deep flatfooted in the offensive zone. They are not all coming back hard through the neutral zone and pressuring the pack. They can't execute short, simple passes in the defensive and neutral zone, let alone longer more risky ones. Seriously, in the last 4 periods against Montreal that I've seen, they mishandled more 20 ft and under passes than I've seen in a long time. They have the passer thinking one thing and the receiver thinking another. The puck is passed bouncing, or it is mishandled when being caught. It's pretty brutal, and it has nothing to do with coaching or a system. It's physical and mental execution, pure and simple.
The offense is so freaking frustrating right now, but to me it's way different than the hapless stretch 2 years ago when they lost 10 straight (man that seems like forever ago). They couldn't get a quality scoring chance to save their lives back then, likely because guys like Miro Satan were getting 1st line minutes. This year, I feel like they've missed more point blank awesome chances than all of last year combined, and while it sucks to watch it's easy to forget that they are getting these chances in the first place. It's like January/February Horton (when we honestly thought he would never score again) has infected the whole team not named Seguin or Lucic* right now.
I think it will come. They have the talent, they have the system, and they seem to have the desire (I hope). There's no doubt in my mind that the goals will come, and the wins will come. But as New Jersey or Carolina fans can attest to, I hope the points in the standings come before it is too late.
*People who think Lucic is a grinder with limited scoring capability basically missed the last year+. He has a laser of a wrist shot and had a ton of goals last year (and some this year) that were just heavy shots right under the bar. Yes he had 5 empty netters, and no he can't create a ton of opportunities on his own like a Seguin, but when he gets the puck from the tops of the circles in, he has a deadly shot. He probably has the second best wrist shot on the team right now, and that's only because Seguin's is pretty much superhuman. Lucic's issue is not his hands or his shot, it's his feet as always. When they're moving, he pushes the D back, he creates space both on the rush and the forecheck, and he allows himself the chance to use his shot. Playing with Seguin for some reason gets his feet moving, and I'd love to see Claude go back to that.