The Blues and Flames struggled early on due to injuries, and a lack of depth


The Coaches Room is a regular feature throughout the 2022-23 season by former NHL coaches and assistants who will turn their critical view of the game and explain it through the lens of a guru. Mark Crawford, Mark Rickey and Phil Houssley will take turns presenting ideas.


In this edition, Crawford, coach of the Quebec Nordiques from 1994-95, Colorado Avalanche from 1995-1998, Vancouver Canucks from 1998-2006, Los Angeles Kings from 2006-2008, Dallas Stars from 2009-11, assistant coach of the Ottawa Senators from 2016-19 and assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks from 2019-22 to why teams struggled to maintain success to start the 2022-23 season.

It’s been a year, so far, that there have been a few bands that have taken off. The Boston Bruins (14-2-0) and Vegas Golden Knights (13-3-0) were an exception, and the Los Angeles Kings (10-7-1) were riding a four-game winning streak winning six of eight (6-1-1). ) before losing 6-5 to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday. Apart from that, there weren’t many; Over 500 matches is now a good record in the National Hockey League.

Major injuries can be part of it. With the Flames (7-6-2), we can talk about the defenseman Chris Tanev. Calgary recently went winless in seven straight games (0-5-2), and one of the main issues has been the absence of Tanev, who has been out for five of those games. You miss a guy like him and that kind of player is hard to replace. It’s just a calming effect on defense for Calgary and they’re a big entity. It gets players to the right place all the time when you have healthy players who play the right way.

Look at the St. Louis Blues (6-8-0) without a defenseman Marco Scandella (hip), who has not yet played this season. He played 70 games last year and that was a big part of their success. When you have a guy like Scandella on the blue line what you get is a guarantee. You get the consistency, and you get the way the coaches always want to be in control. You know what you get from Scandella per shift; You know he’s going to be consistent, while some other guys like their defensive core Nick Lady And the Tore KrugThey have little on the risk side of the item. You appreciate their creativity, but when things aren’t going defensively, it’s like with St. Louis early in the season, when goals against them are up and save percentage is down, the pressure is on.

The biggest area where the Blues are falling behind right now is in scoring (Jordan Bennington is 6-5-0 with a 3.07 goals against average, . 903 save percentage and 1 shutout in 11 starts). The Blues’ underlying numbers aren’t good either. A lot of it is that they are in close matches and empty-net goals end up with some complications in their play. Their inability to score is to blame for a few people, including Jordan KerroAnd the Pavel Bukhnevich and even Ryan O’Reilly, which you would expect to have at least 10 points by now. The underlying factor is what complicates team play: you rely on all aspects of your game to win and it comes to the fore when multiple areas of your game aren’t at the right level.

Video: STL @ VGK: Smith scores SHG in the first period

Depth comes in as a factor sometimes. With 32 teams in the NHL, are there enough good players to go around? That is always the question. Personally, I don’t think it matters because, in the end, you get to work with what you’ve got, and you have to have a more competitive team. I think depth can be in a lot of areas. You may not have depth scoring, but you should be able to skate in depth. You may not have a depth of creativity, but you must have a depth of responsibility.

Look at a team like the Seattle Kraken (8-5-3) who have that now. I think they really focused on playing the right way. They have speed throughout the lineup. They are responsible. You can see their rally mentality, their back pressure, and their transition depends on hard work. When you have a team that has that up front, then you have a chance of being hugely successful. Kraken has shown it. They have beaten teams that are probably more skilled than them this season.

Another aspect is the inability of some coaches to give some players chances while other coaches are able to give them. Why are they able to give it? Part of the coach’s personality and beliefs. But the other part of that is having these really good players with them.

Look at all those kids playing defense for the Montreal Canadiens (8-6-1). Cayden ignoranceHe’s a nice looking player. Jordan Harris And the Arber XhekajThey have Jonathan Kovacevic Off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. It’s about the chances of these guys and the confidence the coaching staff have in them. When talking to people around Montreal, you just see that they are being encouraged and when they make a mistake, Coach Martin St. Louis will likely tell them: “I know exactly what you saw there. Keep trying. I see what you’re looking for. Keep trying.” It encourages them not to be afraid of making a mistake and puts them in positions to do so. They also have David Savard And the Joel Edmondson Who are just awesome at taking care of the guys there. You can see them talking to the players after the play is over.

Video: CGY @ BOS: McAvoy scores in the second half

When you see that, it’s important in the development curve and when you have to play these guys, you have to have that kind of attitude. If you don’t, I think you’ll end up with long losses because the old adage is what you expect from someone is usually what you’ll get. So if you’re worried and belittle a young guy playing or constantly nagging you, you won’t be surprised at what you’ll get.

The teams that have the most success get it because of the simplicity of their play. With that said, look at royalty. When they go back to pucks, they have a specific way of breaking out all the time. If the puck hits one side, it hits it behind the net. If the disc goes the other way, it will be a direct pass of the boards. For me, that expectation is that everybody understands how to play and there’s not a lot of deviation in what they’re doing.

I think reliability goes a long way in allowing any Kings plugin to be successful, and not only that, it allows others to set themselves up because their expectations are the same. Nobody is always completely concrete one way or the other, but if you have a high execution rate, it’s usually because there is a standard that most people on your team adhere to. Los Angeles is the greatest example of this and now the Kings are really starting to take off.

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