Quick Shift: More Forechecking, Less Defensive Zone Dependency >


by Michael DeNicola

Thursday, January 08th, 2015 --

Frank Seravalli published an article this morning that dissects some of the changes (or non-changes, rather) that the Flyers have been subtly implementing over the weeks. Here's a snippet from that article: "From the press box, the Flyers do appear to be more disciplined in their attack. It seems like less of a rambunctious, two-man forecheck and a more defined 1-1-3 setup that attempts to slow down opponents in the neutral zone."

Though that formation may be developing during the opponent's transitioning, I don't believe the Flyers have done a good job slowing anyone down through the neutral zone. And I certainly haven't witnessed anybody having difficulty taking possession over our blueline and into our zone. In fact, from my seat in Section 112 Tuesday night, I remember complaining about how often the Senators were getting away with carrying the mail. They did so routinely, and with too much ease for my liking. 

That certainly doesn't mean I was surprised by what I was watching.

"You want to try to suck the team back. If you send two guys, we've realized a lot of teams can beat two guys with one pass. We're just trying to be a little more cautious that way." -- D Nick Schultz 

Our defense is in no position to be luring anyone, frankly. Anybody with momentum on a wheelchair can beat 90% of our Dmen on an angle. Teams find zero friction against cycling the puck in our end. And on the rare occurrence our defense does breakup the opponent's chances, we can hardly execute the breakout, find a seam up ice, or deliver a stretch pass deep enough to get behind their defense. So, why the hell would we want to try to lure anyone in our zone?

The Flyers allow the seventh most shots this season (30.6 SA/GP) and the seventh most goals (2.90 GA/GP). We can thank Steve Mason that those stats aren't significantly worse. No amount of defensive experimenting is going to decidedly improve our barricade. If we want to win, we'll more than likely have to keep doing it by outscoring the opponent -- a high goals game. We have to create more offensive chances for ourselves; and since virtually none of which can be contributed to by our defensive situations, I believe we'll have to rely heavily on the forecheck. 

Time to take risks from the trenches. Conservative play just ain't our game, especially when we can't hold a lead. It's a possession game... go get it.

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Nick Schultz.jpg 

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