Lets Fix the Jets: Part 1 Defense

| November 7, 2011 | 1 Comment

This will be part one of an epic three part series on how to fix the Jets. Listen I am no hockey expert but I’m not talking about anything that these guys haven’t been about hearing since mighty mites. This is just hockey 101.

Today we will talk about the Defense and what is probably Winnipeg’s biggest weakness right now.

You can’t win games if you keep letting the other team score on you. The Jets have a fantastic goaltender in the name of Ondrej Pavelec who so far this season have kept the Jets in most games. With Pavelec in net the Jets down look as bad on defense as they really are. This team has the talent on D yet seems to chronically under achieve. This was the same issue in Atlanta. The Jets brought in former Oiler Charlie Huddy as an assistant coach to help shore up the defensive corps but the same problems from last year still exist.

SCHEME A LITTLE SCHEME

The first issue that stands out with the D is the system that the coaching staff has installed. The Jets play a box +1 system where the center stays low to help pick up a man infront of the net. In theory this type of scheme takes away the cross ice down low back door pass which so many teams in the NHL like to employ. The problem is the Jets are keeping a very tight box like on a penalty kill and letting the opposing team have the perimeter. If you just tuned into a Jets game it would look like they were killing a penalty. In my opinion this laid back style doesn’t wok in the NHL. If you give guys with skill enough time they are going to be able to find the seams and create scoring chances.

The Jets would be better off playing a modified diamond that rotates to where the puck is. They need to keep pressure on the puck handler to try and get a quick turnover. Right now the Jets are too passive in their own zone and its hurting them. The game against the flyers was a perfect example of that. They gave Philly too much time to set up and they were able to capitalize.

A LITTLE PICNCH HERE AND THERE

While the Jets are passive in their own zone the same cannot be said about the play of the D while on offense. The Jets have offensively minded defensemen who have a tendency to over commit and give up odd man rushes. My Dad used to say that a D man should play by the 100% rule. If you are 100% sure you can make the play then do it. If Its 99% then back off and live to fight another day. The worst thing a D man can do is pinch and give up the odd man rush. Roughly 55% of all odd man rushes are converted into goals in the NHL. Sometimes you just have to play the numbers. Sure it would be nice for the D to jump into the play but what happens if he misses the pass, the shot is blocked or he whiffs on the play? The other team has a golden opportunity and the odds say they will convert over half of the time. If they are not 100% sure they will not give up an odd man rush the risk is too high.

WOULD YOU LIKE ICE CREAM WITH THAT TURNOVER?

The Jets have been really bad with turning over the puck in their own end. Turnovers are happening in two spots. Firstly an errant pass coming out of the D zone into the neutral zone and secondly a bad clear while trying to get the puck out. D men like long passes and long passes are easy to pick off. This is a problem that faces D men in every level of hockey. They will have the puck and see an open forward up the ice. He’s wide open so the D man fires a puck up the middle. Only problem he didn’t see the opposing player who is able to jump the pass and create a scoring opportunity.  This happens in minor hockey, junior, rec league and even in the pros. Its just a mental error. Every D man has had it drilled into him by his coaches not to pass it up the middle but they all do it from time to time.

Bad clears are the bane of every coach. The player just has to fire it high off the glass to get it out of the zone yet he tries to fire it along the ice and the puck is kept in the zone. When the puck is in the zone long enough bad things start to happen. Players get tired, coverages break down and before you know it the other team is celebrating scoring a goal. If you get the puck on your stick then you should be able to get it out of the zone. Yeah you might take an icing but thats better than giving up a score.

The Jets run into an issue with their breakout due to the wingers playing too low in their own zone. The D man or center has no options and has to try and fit the puck in a narrow seam. Without options the puck carrier has no time and just has to blindly shoot the puck. The other team is able to intercept and is then off to the races.

Later this week we ill look into the Jets offense and try to help them score a few more goals just with a few modifications to their system.

Go Jets Go.

 

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  1. Mark Snowdon says:

    I disagree, I think with some fine tuning the box +1 IS the way to go. With the exception of the Philadelphi game, (which we won) all the other games have been close, low scoring games. Most coaches would kill to keep the opposition to 2 goals in 60 minutes. The problem I have seen too much is the point shots getting blocked right at the blue line. Let the defender dive to block then move around him and take the shot. A couple break aways have been the result of blocked shots coming out over the blue line and careening past the stalled defense man who made the shot. Love the forechecking due to defense pinching in, is the opposite of the “gutless” d I see from my other favorite team Carolina, who more often than not are back pedalling as soom as the opposition touches the puck in their end. Scoring more goals will make the occasional odd man rushes less significant. Keep up the good work Jets.

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