The Canucks’ legs aren’t working. Washington’s legs are doing double time. So now the speed kills us. We are not winning the race to the puck very often, and when we do get there first, an opposition player is there to hurry us. There is no time.
So how do we deal with that?
Look, it’s simple. We either speed our game up, or we slow their game down. It would be hard to speed a game up against a team like Washington. They are one of the fastest teams I’ve seen. So then how do we slow it down then?
We don’t have to lay them out cold, as much as that always brings us to our feet. But we have to physically finish checks every time. When we can punish them, we punish them. But just because we can’t make them pay big time on every play, make them pay a little. Wear them down.
Make them hear foot steps. Make them believe they are being rushed, even when they aren’t. Make them pay when going to the slot. We don’t get rooted to our own ice, watching them play tic tac toe.
Make them pay
And turnovers make the other team look even faster. How do we minimize that? We dump quicker, we make better decisions when we have the puck. We don’t skate into one on twos or one on threes. Washington has more than fast legs. They have fast sticks. Dump chase and hit. We have the speed. Do we have the heart?
Attention to detail. The game is made up of doing a hundred little things right. Reading the play, supporting the puck, closing the gaps, collapsing at the correct time, but still ready to break out.
The Canucks slowed their game down, but not the game. It is difficult to create tempo in a hockey game when four of the five skaters are standing still. The puck carrier cannot be the only person moving. When he inevitably dishes it off, it is to someone standing still. When he dumps it in, none of the Canucks are anticipating with movement. So they look like they are hustling, the look like they are moving, but clearly they are not. I am dumfounded by the announcement that we had three shots.
Of course we did score on 33% of our shots
Mercifully Coach V inserts Sandford for the third. Gotta accept the occasional stinker, sportsfans. There may be some out there who will demand changes, hang individual players out to dry. Relax, it’s an 82 game season. We got spanked because we deserved it. We’ll find out how much character we have by how we respond next game.
And someone is sure to point out that we held Ovechkin pointless. But really, folks, is there any other forward in the game who is better?
So what do the Canucks do now?
Well, what a pro does from a loss is learn from it, and then move on.