What Would Whores Watch For? Phoenix vs. Colorado

USA TODAY Sports

Imagine you were me and you were watching the game. Go ahead, imagine. I'll wait.

Due to the incessant begging from a bothersome and puerile commenter, I decided to do a little primer for the Coyotes game. I’ll have the recap tonight so I will hopefully respond with what I saw.

The preview threads, whenever they do eventually get posted, contain brilliant writing and brilliant analysis and brilliant stop stop just stop making call the writers brilliant, get out of my head. Anyway, the preview threads preview the game. They usually don’t preview the systems or if they do it’s an overview of Chicago being good and fast, Minnesota being boring and boring and boring and some more boring, or an East Coast team playing well. It’s hard to go into in-depth detail on what the Avs will face for a game.

Enter me! We’ll see if this works as I anticipate. This is your systems teaser trailer for tonight’s game. I see three main system-based issues for the Avs and I am interested to see how they and Roy respond.

1) Phoenix Defense:

What We’ll See: Dave Tippet plays a tough, tough system. Phoenix plays a very skilled zone defense which means each player had a specified and adjusting area in the zone to cover. They won’t chase their man around like the Avs do. They’ll try to keep the Avs to boards and collapse on them. The puck should spend a lot of time in the low corner and behind the net. Phoenix also collapses in front of the net at a moment’s notice which prevents any shot from getting through. They almost act as a 5 person wall in a way; it’s basically a PK box with 5 guys all the time.

Hopeful Avalanche Response: The Avalanche need to get pucks away from the low corners and up to the points. That will get Phoenix moving and prevent their system from collapsing in front of Mike Smith. They also need to be strong in the corners to open space. If they let Yandle and Company pin them, Duchene and MacKinnon will be exhausted half way through a shift and scoring will be tough. They’ll need to move the puck around a lot, hopefully to the points, to spread out the box and create lanes. Look and hope for point shots. Look and hope for movement east to west. Look and hope for as few low corner battles as can be.

2) Phoenix Neutral Zone:

What We’ll See: Phoenix plays an expected semi-trap. Their goal to prevent the other team from skating it into the zone. They try to get turnovers in the neutral zone. Look for one Phoenix forechecker on the Avs, two forwards near the red line, and the defense on the blue line. When the Avs skate into the zone, watch for the Phoenix player to wedge him into the wall at the blue line; prevent all speed and any skating lane.

Hopeful Avalanche Response: Ugh. Tough one. I am hoping we’ll see the Avs use their speed to keep pressing and try to break through. Don’t expect a lot of odd man rushes by the Avs unless they can force some timely turnovers. Expect a few more drop passes at the red line (I know we hate them) to change the angle to break down the trap; e.g. if the forward are pinching on the puck carrier to the left and the drop pass hits a player going right, all of a sudden there is more skating space. Hard to to well, but it can work on this neutral zone trap. Expect more dumping and chasing that we would usually see.

Also I expect to see MacKinnon and Duchene try to skate the puck up the middle a lot; hopefully the Avs drop a forward back to prepare for a turnover. One other hope is that the Avs will use more East/West passes to spread out the zone. I expect the defense to pass back and forth a lot before breaking out (too bad EJ is out). If they can spread out Phoenix’s trap instead of letting them set up nicely, there will be openings for the faster wingers like McGinn or Landy. This falls on the defense and the centers to be on their passing games and hitting very tiny lanes.

3) Colorado Breakout

What We’ll See: The same thing as usual. Speed. Defense takes the puck, passes to a circling forward (Duchene, Stastny, Mitchell, Cliché), who either skates into the zone, passes to the near side wing, or dumps it in. Phoenix should play a 1 man forecehck solely to pressure the defense to make a quick pass instead of setting up; ideally the pass will be bad and Phoenix can use that to gain possession. They don’t usually run a 2 man forecehck (which is designed to produce turnovers) but they use the 1 man effectively.

Hopeful Avalanche Response: Hopefully they keep using their speed and pressure. If they try to get fancy and all San Jose-y, they’ll get burned by turnovers. If they try to over pass and get too cute in the neutral zone and on the break out, Phoenix will eat up the turnovers. They need to keep skating and even though Phoenix plays a good trap, the defense must be calm with the 1 man forecheck and pass backwards if necessary. They can’t force the puck up the zone, not against this trap. The breakout also must adjust if the forecheck backs away and Phoenix plays a 3-2. They’ll go into complete trap mode if they get the lead and the Avs must dump and chase because there will be no space.

I will attempt to comment on my thoughts in the recap, depending on how it goes and how drunk I get. If this story idea works, maybe I’ll keep it up. Let me know your thoughts and how I can make this better going forward. Except you Malachi. You can shut the fuck up.

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