Without further ado (a phrase which I believe contains, ironically, a bit of ado which I have now, somewhat disingenuously compounded) nickname proposal: the Ich-Balls pair.
Wanted to hear from some of you better strategists on the issue of seeming defensive improvement even though the sample size is small. I am relatively new at serious hockey fandom since it only eclipsed football a few years ago, MHH only sucked me in after that, I still adolescently eschew advanced stats, and my personal experience with it derives from my hockey dad status. Consequently, I'd love to sponge some learning from the numerous hockey sages I've come to respect around here, but brief let me be.
When Pattrick Roy said "I like our D. Dey gonna' work 'ard for us," and preceded to list all of the players he did as standing out, I wasn't convinced, but I wasn't worried. I just thought that he was using a one man good cop, bad cop routine where he fries you in private and praises you in public to build your confidence. Smart coaching. Pump tires, see how well they stay inflated and start fixing the leak.
Now, I see perhaps he was right. Early tilts (a good word badly McNabbed) seem indicative of an improved defense. My thoughts run to the following causes
Causes I am confident I see:
1) Our bottom 'D' pair is significantly better. (Hence, good balls)
2) We backcheck better, harder.
Hypothetical causes I'd like for better analysts to respond to:
1) Aggressive forecheck and pressure leads to less stable possession and teams struggle to develop confidence and rhythm in their attack. This seems to be noticeable on PK as well, although PK might suffer more as teams get "tuned up".
2) Players focussing more on their responsibility and "scrambling" less.
Things I want to be true which may reflect more confirmation bias or personal paradigms than actual reality:
1) Players seem more confident in/clear on the system and thus act more decisively, saving precious fractions of a second hundreds of times per game.
2) Individual pairs have separately defined roles. i.e "Ich, get the puck to Balls as soon as you can and then just clog the middle and squish people on the walls. Balls, carry the puck, look up ice, pinch wisely and well, and fly back through the middle if you get caught." I guess, what I'm suggesting is that it isn't just a rigid system; it's sub-tailored to each pair.