"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
So I'm finishing up the chart for the first game of the series on Wednesday night. I had Fox Sports Detroit on before I started watching the game on my DVR, which I thought nothing of because it's pretty typical for me to have Fox Sports Detroit on. After I finish charting, however, I hit stop on the recording and the Red Wings game comes on and PRETTY MUCH BURNS MY RETINAS WHY IS THIS ICE SO BRIGHT. Hockey in high def is most definitely not what Fox Sports College Atlantic or whatever it was was broadcasting for these Michigan games. Like Brian said in his post, it was basically like watching a legal stream. That wandering anecdote was my way of saying that the Corsi charts have some values that may not be perfect. I'm not really concerned though, as there are things that I may have marked a shot that missed the net or vice versa that even each other out in the overall numbers. This is why I don't change numbers in the shots column to match the official score sheet; it should work itself out when considering all of the categories.
Friday, 10/18/13 at UNH
- Things that are good: spending time not in the penalty box. Things that are bad: spending time in the penalty box. Of UNH's 37 shots 11 came on the power play. Of their misses, 7 of 21 came on the power play. Of UNH's blocked shots, 7 of 14 came on the power play. That's 29.7% of their shots, 33.3% of their misses, and 50% of their blocks. Worried about being outshot? Try to keep five guys on the ice.
- Even though Michigan was handily defeated in terms of possession, the game was a little more open than the numbers indicate. A lot of this game was played in the neutral zone, with each team trying and failing to create an offensive zone presence. An argument could be made, however, for UNH carrying the play because whoa that third period was rough. Michigan was circling and circling and circling in the defensive zone and I had to keep pausing the recording so I could mark more stuff down for UNH.
- UNH's numbers look pretty dominant in overtime but we're looking at a five minute sample. UNH had possession but I can't remember any part of OT where I thought Michigan dodged a bullet.
Saturday, 10/19/13 at UNH
- This was a game of extended periods of back-and-forth punctuated by furious bursts of offensive zone activity. Michigan looked like they were handily outplayed in the second period (especially the second half of the second period, where they couldn't clear the puck for anything) and the numbers bear this out. At one point UNH went on a tear of four consecutive shots on goal in what had to be under a minute. It looked like the tide of the game may have been turning, but the clock mercifully ran out.
- UNH picked up where they left off and generated a number of chances early in the third period. Their offensive zone time came in smaller bursts, however, and the game transitioned back to an up-and-down affair. Michigan eventually got their own extended offensive zone time and ended up with a slight advantage overall in Corsi for the period.
- Special teams were the theme of Friday night but weren't a factor after the first two periods on Saturday. In the first period 12 of Michigan's 21 shots (57.14%) came on the power play. In the second period 10 of UNH's 25 shots (40.00%) came on the power play. After that? Not even a power play opportunity for either team.
- I like Nagelvoort and his giant leg pads. They're like belly putters in golf; comedically oversized but effective in their own right.
[Ed-S: Gee golly willickers this guy knows his hockey. Bump Elliott'd]
I know it's not about Trey Burke... but Brian suggested I post it Monday night:
Hockey Special Teams 1: Power Play Basics
Brian recently asked me “What’s wrong with Michigan’s powerplay?” Since that is a complicated answer, I’ll answer it in a 3 part Diary. This one focuses on the Power Play, the next will be on the penalty kill, and once I’ve explained those basics I’ll dive into Michigan’s specifics. There are many situations that can lead to a power play during a hockey game:
First, my hockey resume: I’ve been playing hockey for 20 years. I tried out for the club team at Michigan and was told I was the 2nd best goalie trying out, but they were only taking 1 that year (they might have told that to all the goalies). I played on Sunday nights at the Cube from 2006-2009, so if you played in that student league you probably played against me. I’ve done some coaching since graduation but had to take a break from that when I changed jobs. OK, enough about that. There are plenty of better hockey minds on the board (JimLahey comes to mind) who will hopefully chime in and add to what I’ve put together here.
All powerplays have 3 parts:
1. Establish possession in the offensive zone
3. Profit! Er. Score.
In this Diary I’m mainly going to focus on #2. In my diary on the penalty kill I’ll talk more about #1 (and how to stop it). The obvious advantage of a powerplay is that you have an extra man. The objective becomes taking advantage of that extra man and getting him a scoring change in space. It comes down to spacing and angles. Forgive the Word Art, but a basic offensive zone powerplay formation is the “Umbrella”
In this formation you have 3 players high in the zone, with one in the middle. This formation works best if the man on the left circle is a right-handed shot and the man on the right circle is a left-handed shot as seen here:
Right now the wing players are on their “opposite” sides, which allows them to be open to a pass from the middle and one-time the puck right away. We used to teach our “Quarterback” – the player at the top of the umbrella – to shoot it right away the first time he got it and establish himself as a threat. You make the PK commit to the middle player and he’ll have options on either side. In the above frame against Western, the WMU penalty killer approaching the puck is doing so after challenging the QB up top.
If you’ve got 5 minutes, this video does a good job of breaking down the Umbrella:
In the frame above, Michigan actually ran a different set off an umbrella look that lead to a goal. Rather than just cycling the puck among the top 3 guys, Michigan flipped the puck low and took advantage of what Western gave us. The same principles apply here though – get a scoring chance to a guy in space.
Another powerplay set up I learned as the “Swedish” play. This works well if you want to have 2 defensemen on the ice for the powerplay (like Red does) and you don’t want to have them switch sides (right D man is on the right side)
Again, forgive the word art. This set up lulls the defenders to sleep and sets up a quick one timer for one of your defensemen. The play starts at the top middle with a right handed defenseman. The puck should move between the top 3 players for a while until the play starts. The top defenseman passes to his partner, who passes down the wall, who passes to the man in the corner – who should be a lefty in this case. As the puck works around to the corner a few things can happen depending on what the defense gives you. The player in the corner can drive the puck to the net, look for the man directly in front of the net, or drive hard around the net and find the crashing defenseman for a one-timer. This works because the puck has been busy rotating on the right for a while, and your top left penalty killer can be caught sleeping when the defenseman crashes. Again, creates a scoring chance in space.
Those are 2 basic powerplay set ups. Now for some general powerplay non-bullets:
You have to establish possession in the offensive zone
I mentioned this above, but that is really where Michigan struggled this year. This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, as I’ll try to show you in the upcoming “Penalty Kill” diary. It’s a lot like breaking a press in basketball. There are a lot of different neutral zone kills, and the offsides rule really helps the defenders out.
The powerplay is a lot like football plays – constraints are huge
This will come into view with the “Penalty Kill” diary, but depending on what the offense is doing, the defense does something and vice versa. There are ways to break kills, kills designed to stop specific powerplays, etc.
Powerplays can be very mental and high pressure situations
You're supposed to score, you can press, you can play tight, and you can fail. Especially if a powerplay is struggling. Like THJ - when he was in his slump, everyone knew it, when he was open for a 3 he should make it, and stuff like that can become a self fulfilling prophecy. That's the mental part. The physical is more akin to the red zone or goal line football. Everything gets turned up a notch. Again, you're supposed to score and the defense turns it up too. Every little mistake gets jumped on - if you don't have a perfect clean pass the D pounces and you have to try to gain the zone again. As an aside, Michigan’s PK was dominant against Ohio State in Cleveland, we were on every loose puck.
A 5-on-3 is a goal one way or the other. Everything mental I just mentioned about a normal powerplay is turned up to 11. A goal is scored, either by the offensive team or by the team that shut down the 5-on-3. The momentum swing and huge boost is as good as a goal, and I am not exaggerating. Many teams will run their normal powerplay, just condensed. So rather than the umbrella being near the top of the zone, your middle guy is even with the top of the circles and your wings are closer to the dots.
A Good goalie can muck all of this up
A team’s best penalty killer is their goalie. A goalie can affect a series more than any other player in any other sport. Some nights no matter what happens you’re not scoring on a goalie. Sometimes this is awesome and Hunwick takes us far. Sometimes we run into the hot goalie and can’t do anything about it.
Powerplays can get too fancy
Just like a basketball team trying to get a pretty play on a 3-on-1 break, the powerplay can be over thought and fail. Sometimes you just need to make the smart pass, or throw the puck at the net. Dirty goals are still goals. On the powerplay often players will try to go for the beautiful pass for a seamless one-timer… when what they should have done is throw the puck at the net at crash it.
That’s it for my Powerplay Overview. I’ll try to get the penalty kill diary up within about a week, followed by a breakdown of where exactly Michigan struggles.