Things to look for down the stretch...part 1

Is there balance between an aggressive forecheck and recognizing when to mind the neutral zone?

Too often in the playoffs we allow high speed jailbreaks through the NZ just cuz our forwards commit to a 2 man forecheck come hell or high water. They've gradually got better at NZ play since the philly disaster but its something they still need to focus on. NYI did a pretty good imitation of philly during 1st round of 2013 playoffs but the pens were able to slow the NYI attack down enough to generate enough offense for vokoun to hold the fort. They did this by recognizing when to mind the NZ and when to pressure the d.

Basically if you bring the puck up ice with speed and numbers you can commit the 2nd forechecker just cuz percentages say opposing defense hasn't established enough possession to have a passing option. If pens plan to win the cup they're going to have become card counters...on the fly. Adjustments and recognition prior to game 5 sealed NYI's fate.

Are they moving the puck with support or via disco stetch?

We all know disco would like nothing more than to chip to speed with a stretch pass up the boards till the break of dawn. And if opposition manages to somehow get the puck out of the zone he wants his F3 and weak side dman to squeeze off the puck. All this sounds like loads of fun in theory, however real easy to defend. As we've seen Boston, philly, NYI, montreal and regular season foes do, all they need is to defend the forwards at the dots in position for the chip with a close gap, disrupt the chip and watch our offense disintegrate before our very eyes. Not an accident frustration and childish penalties were the result.

The elixir to this as we've seen for the last few months has been close puck support up and down the ice. D to D passes allowing for forwards to regroup instead of just blindly going north has been a great help as well. Stretch passes can and are still part of the attack but done more so only when the puck becomes a hot potato or when line changes are in order. For the most part we are now seeing a concerted effort by our forwards to come down deeper into the dzone and generate speed up ice with the dmen so passing options are in close proximity.

Result is more zone entries with possession or in the event dump ins are called for, multiple forecheckers can pressure with speed and numbers instead of being at a standstill waiting for the chip. This alone has turned situations that might normally be 50/50 pucks into 70/30 advantages when our top 6 needs to dump the puck in.

Even simpler, give the opposing d less time to retrieve the puck and your chances go up.

This is accomplished with close puck support and NZ recognition. Know that when you don't have support and numbers minding the neutral zone is mandatory. However when you have a chance to wind it up, release the hounds!

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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