Friday, January 3, 2014

10 Observations on Burnside's USA Article

I'll keep this introduction short because I assume if you're hockey savvy enough to know this blog or be reading it, you've probably read the Scott Burnside piece on how the US team was put together. If not you can read it here. All the talk about what this means for reporters and access is interesting, but if I'm being completely honest I don't really care (unless it means all access stops). What I do care about is some of the hockey discussions that went on, so without further adieu here are 10 observations from a revealing article:

  1. I found it more than interesting that Burke thought teams would be "excited" to play against Yandle should an injury occur and he have to step into the top four, but the team had no problem naming Justin Faulk to the team and eventually settled on Fowler over Yandle too. What, Canada and Sweden wouldn't be excited to play a top four that contained Faulk or Fowler in it? 
  2. Another note on Yandle was that USA was completely comfortable in simply saying "Pavelski is going to play the point on the power play." You have the highest scoring American defenseman over the last four years but you leave him off because you're going to have a forward on the point instead? I know Pavelski plays the point in San Jose, and he's great at it, but that's a huge task to ask of a guy on big ice when he's going to probably be up against penalty killers like Claude Giroux, maybe Patrick Sharp or Rick Nash, or whoever. Nothing against Pavelski, and I think he can reasonably play there, but why is it a forgone conclusion?
  3. Couldn't help but get a laugh out of this: "Shero insists he'd still rather throw in his lot with the Detroit netminder given his playoff experience and the belief he'll rise to the challenge if called on. "I'm going to take my [bleeping] chances with Jimmy Howard," Shero says." This is to a "T" why Marc Andre Fleury is still Pittsburgh's goalie. 
  4. As much slack as the management team is getting for Bobby Ryan not being on the team, the coaching staff didn't want him. In Toronto we hear from analysts all the time how the "top-six, bottom-six, model is dead" but the Pens coaches legitimately didn't want Bobby Ryan because that's the system they are running and Bobby Ryan wasn't going to play in their top six and they thought he wasn't a good fit for that bottom six grinding role. 
  5. I didn't really care about Burke or anyone else ripping on Bobby Ryan, but the actual strange thing was Burke saying he should have drafted Johnson over Ryan.  Ryan is a four time 30 goal scorer with size, while Jack Johnson is a big, fast defenseman who isn’t very good defensively or offensively. How is this a real conversation?
  6. One of the quieter worries about Ben Bishop was his poor World Championships. Let that be a lesson to all the people who don't think that tournament matters. Conversely, John Gibson took over and led USA to an unexpected bronze medal after Bishop struggled, and Gibson's name was on USA's radar to start the season. John Gibson has never played an NHL game and he was in USA's pool of goalies months into the season. Think about that. 
  7. It was interesting hearing the debate on "I want the three best goalies" versus "who is playing well." Frankly, there was a lot of flip-flopping on that stance. When it came to Jack Johnson it was "he's been there before, he wont let us down for 12 days" and yet for goalies it was sometimes "who is playing well (hello Jimmy Howard)." And yet at forward it was also "Well Kyle Okposo is playing well but we wont hear from him years from now." One American has more points than Okposo this year. Taking the best versus who is playing well is a tough debate. Personally I'd take the best players and hope they get it together. I'd rather go down with my best struggling versus playing worse players who end up not being up to the task.
  8. It was also interesting, and I know we didn't hear their full discussions, on how little they put into stats. When Dean Lombardi had his whole Yandle presentation he touched on him being the highest scoring defenseman over the last four years yet nobody seemed to care (he can't play D was the prevailing notion). The same thing when it came to Bobby Ryan and how good a point producer he's been. Frankly, I thought Dean Lombardi came off as the smartest guy in those meetings and it's not a surprise when you consider the team he's built and the overall success he's had in his career. You got a little glimpse into how little executives put into stats, and the stats I'm talking about are literally only goals and points. Imagine otherwise.
  9. Conversely, I was a little surprised to hear Dean Lombardi be complimentary of Jack Johnson considering their history. If you don't know what I'm talking about just Google "Dean Lombardi Jack Johnson" and have fun.
  10. Was surprised at the little talk of versatility. Maybe it simply wasn't included, but when it came to the defense it was like "who is a LD, who is a RD, okay let's pick each from these categories." On forward it was the same thing "who is a RW, who is a LW, okay let's go." Crazy things happen in these tournaments, guys get hurt, guys play like garbage, etc. The only thing they wanted for flexibility was five centers but otherwise they appear to be very certain of the match-ups and roles they want and there isn't much wiggle room otherwise. This scares me that Subban wont be on Canada simply because he's a RD.

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