Dear Coach Q
Hey coach. Been a while since we talked. Before we get started here, can you check to see if there's a gas leak in your hotel room? No seriously, can you? It's ok. We'll wait.....No? Ok then, let's get to it.
We're eschewing a normal wrap tonight because everything we'd like to say really centers around your decisions tonight, and really your reaction to the Vancouver loss. Hey, it was a bad night. None of enjoyed it, and we all walked out of the UC with a pretty poor taste in our mouths. But after a couple hours, most everyone came to the conclusion it was a bad night in November. Sure, at the worst possible time, but that's what it amounted to. A bad night in November. You, however, carried that bad taste with you into practice the next day and into this game tonight. It is no panic time, and though this probably can't be categorized as panic, it's not exactly an oasis of calm either.
So you did what you always do, shuffle the lineup. Ok, I guess. Maybe there were changes called for, maybe there weren't. You told the press you like to reward for merit. And then John Scott ends up in the lineup. That would appear to be either a Seuss-ian riddle that my addled, Emerson College educated mind can't comprehend (in which case that was 120k well spent!), or it doesn't make an iota of sense. I think I know which one it is.
And n the road. That's on the road, Q, where you're opposing coach can pick who Scott gets to lineup against when you either have a peyote flashback or just have to throw him out there for a draw due to fatigue from others. On a night when you needed a good start, you throw Scott out there in the hopes that Ken Hitchock chokes on his own excitement or leftover fried whole chicken he keeps behind the bench to not get his top line out against your obelisk of uselessness. Well he didn't, he did, and you were down one. We've had a year of this, Q. John Scott doesn't do anything. He doesn't deter, he doesn't intimidate, he doesn't play. How long does it take to crack this mystery? I don't think the Hardy boys need to be called, and Scooby Doo would probably figure it out in the time it took him to shit out his Scooby snacks. It's hard to fathom what your credibility with your players is when you talk about "merit", and then throw Scott out there. Did we mention you have three more games this week in four days and you kind of have to roll three pairs tonight to keep everyone fresh?
Ok, but that's a fight we've had before, and you're clearly not going to listen. Fine. You wanted to juggle your lines. There's an argument they could have used some tweaking. Maybe. But when you needed tweezers you went for a sledgehammer, and that wasn't called for.
You didn't like the production of Toews's line. Fans are all over Andrew Brunette and Viktor Stalberg. But really, how bad was that line? In the four games you had them together, Columbus, Nashville, Florida and Tampa Bay, they were a +54 in CORSI, including an really unfathomable +40 all on their own against Tampa (they had an icky night in Florida, but so did everyone). Hey, it's a results business, and CORSI doesn't mean goals. We understand. But they were creating chances at least, and there's really only problems when they don't do that.
But hey, Vik has always had a short leash around various body parts with you, we've accepted that. You recognize that Toews could use a forechecker when paired with Brunette. Well, Hossa would work. We know, can't break up what Hoss and Kaner have going. Well you have to choose, Q. You can either have Hossa freaking the fuck off with Kane, or Sharp. You can't have both. And quite frankly, Hossa has proven in the past that he can be dangerous with Toews. You could have both Sharp and Hossa firing, if you'd make this simple change. Hossa with Brunette and Toews would give Toews help on the forecheck while still providing a finisher for what Bruno does well, those plays around the net.
But you didn't opt for that. You put Sharp with Toews -- which has never really felt like it worked -- and put Frolik there which leaves you with the same problems. No forecheck. It also caused you to break up what comprised most of one of the better third lines in hockey with Bolland and Frolik, though they'd had some subpar games recently. But notice that says "games", not weeks.
You knew we'd get to it. The power play. Q, you have to stop proving your genius by having a forward back there. It doesn't work, and it provides too easy a clear. Two d-men on the point would at least have two players to keep pucks in, if nothing else. That's more time in the zone, and more time in the zone will eventually lead the talent to break through. And tell your players that every time they try the back door, they have to wear Scott's jock on their face for five minutes right after practice. The league is kind of on to it by now. They have TVs too.
Look Q, you may think you're reacting to a real rut, but you're not. It really is nothing more than a minor blip. The Nashville game was only harder than it had to be due to a rare off night for Corey Crawford. You pretty much controlled that game. Ok, the Florida trip was defensively wonky, but that came without your best blue liner. Shock of shocks, your team suffers when it doesn't have the guy your bosses are paying close to 8 mildo this year. Again, Scooby isn't needed to figure this one out. Tampa wasn't as bad as it looks either. The 2nd sucked, but again a suffering defense without its talisman. Nothing wrong with the forwards on that night. Vancouver? Eh, those games happen.
Q, it's November, Patience and tweaking. That's all that's required. Because it seems, only on a feeling admittedly, that recently when you pull the lever on your lineup slot machine, your players aren't responding, and you have to go back to it in the 3rd period. We might suggest that they're rolling their eyes when you do this now instead of putting their heads down and working. They're not tuning you out per se, but we're scared that you can see it from where they are.
A blip Q, not a wound. Try and treat it as such. We'll talk again, but hopefully not soon.