After going on hiatus for the first few weeks of the season. The bag is full and I’m back to answer questions, but not without a heavy heart.

The hockey community lost a good one this week:

 

Thoughts are with the family and friends of “Big” Ben Butzbach.

As a casual listener of PenaltyBoxRadio for a few years, I’ve gotten to know more about Nashville’s hockey community. My words won’t do justice to the contributions and impact Butzbach made in Tennessee. Instead I recommend reading a Remembrance by Predators’ P.A. Announcer Paul McCann.

Ben’s cohosts on Penalty Box Radio, Justin Bradford and Glynne Blackwell, hosted a tribute program last night:

#RIPBigBen

With no easy way to transition, let’s go to the questions submitted this week.

 

Tell me if you heard this one before: Aho likes to use a long stick.

Go back to the start of last season and look at his first few goals (including shootout attempts):

In this 22 minute-highlight package, it’s hard not to notice a lot of Aho’s goals come from the right side of the ice. Look closer you’ll also notice how “far” apart he keeps his hands. He’s very unique player, in that he rarely moves his bottom (left) had position.

Typically, players are taught to keep their hands closer together while stick-handling. When perparing to shoot, you slide your bottom hand down the shaft (#HockeyPorn) to create more force when you flex the stick on the ice.

At this point, a player’s hands should be extended from their body before rolling their wrists to shoot. Aho needs open ice and space away from a defender to get off an great scoring chance. Shooting the puck from his off-side allows him the space immediate in-front to shoot across his body.

Like all Canes forwards, Aho has been kept to the outside skating lanes entering the offensive zone. Until he has time to circling the net while his teammates have the puck at 5-on-5 or setup on the right-side on the PP he will continue to struggle to get that first goal.

His play suggests he needs a little help finding him in those spots. He hasn’t had any trouble finding them.

More physical players won’t help. Those teams are slowing the Canes down at the offensive blue line and forcing them to the outside. Only thing that will help is some adjustment in the neutral-zone to get a second player to enter the zone with speed on 2-on-2, 1-on-2 situations.

The quicker the second and third players join the play, the more it’ll force players to back off. That extra space will take away the big hits, and players moving at higher speeds can bounce off those hits better.

 

Puck possession and shot volume are great, but their correllation to success is a bit overrated without creativity. Meaning the lack of a playmaker — especially at center — is holding the 5-on-5 offense back.

Outside of Skinner, who is capable of finding scoring chances for almost anywhere, other forwards needs help from their linemates. Playing within the team’s systems, forwards are slow to get in the offensive zone unless on an odd-man rush.

 

Neither. It’s creativity. Everyone outside of Skinner and Teravainen uses straight lines to enter, move around in the zone.

 

Since this wasn’t submitted with the proper #328bag tag, State Law dictates I can’t provide a direct answer. But I can say this:

Goal scoring is voodoo.

 

I’m OK and encouraged with this group. As a third line.

Jooris give that line a second player to retrieve the puck in deep on the line. Ryan needs to be the high forward, rendering him useless unless to his linemates until they control the zone.

After the Ducks game, 53 and 7 could use a smart linemate in the defensive zone. In limited time here, I’ve been very impressed with Jooris’ movement & coverage in deep.

Against third pairing defenders, this line might be able to give the team a 1-0 lead.

 

Click on the Amazon button to find those goggles.

Ryan has been #CanesTwitter Enemy #1, but undeservedly so. While he hasn’t made a contribution, he hasn’t hampered Skinner’s even strength production (5G, 1A at ES).

But he doesn’t need to be the center on a power play unit. As good as his numbers say he’s been in the face-off circle, could he win the opening draw on the PP more often?

Overall, he’s been fine, but overslotted on special teams.

 

Play from the center position. Just like the New York Rangers, the scoring struggles start and end for me with Staal, Rask, & Ryan.

Staal has played well, but any expectation he’s going to be more than a 50pt scorer in a good year is foolish. Rask’s hot start last year was just that — hot and unsustainable. But both players rely on their linemates to produce offensively. This team needs a center who helps his teammates first.

Remember how Chad LaRose scored 20 goals? His center made him better.

 

No and no. Sadly.

Offense can, and needs to, be improved first before it’s worth making a deal.

 

Opening Night 2018-19.