18 March 2008
The Avs trail 2-1 late in the critical game against the Wild last night. The Avs have been steadily applying pressure. Theo has been pulled. The Avs take a very strong shift that has the Wild on their heals. The Wild, desperate to get the puck out of the zone after some really good chances in the last 30 seconds, finally get the puck and launch it the length of the ice. Jacques LeMaire has already used his timeout. The extremely tired Wild defenders have to stay out on the ice for a faceoff deep in the Wild Zone. The Avs can change and put a fresh set of healthy bodies on the ice, bodies that include Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, Ruslan Salei and maybe leave the tired, yet effective, Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic on the ice. The Wild have to leave the same guys out who have just been worked over, and out of gas. Only 40 seconds left in the game Jacques LeMaire can't call a timeout because he already used his.
So what happens, Coach Quenneville actually calls a timeout. Seriously? What-The-F#$%!? Why are you doing a favor for the Wild? Lemaire must have been as giddy as a schoolgirl on the inside. Way to let the dead-tired, reeling defense regroup. This is either a classic case of overcoaching, or being completely unprepared. Both of which are colossal blunders at this stage of the season. There are only two reasons you would take a timeout in this situation:
a) Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic had just taken a long shift and you want to rest them a little for the final 40 seconds or so. The problem with this logic is that Tired Defenders give up goals. So resting Sakic and Forsberg, and subbing in the fresh troops isn't nearly as advantageous as letting Forsberg and Sakic stay tired, but making Minnesota have five unrested players for the final 40 seconds go against the Avs fresh four plus a still effective hall-of-fame duo.
b) Coach Q wanted to diagram a play If this is the case then it shows that this team is completely unprepared and poorly coached. The Avs, after a full season of practice, training camp, and 70+ games, don't have a play that every player on the team knows for the "trailing by one late in a game with a face-off in the opponents zone."? They need a timeout to go over it? If that's the case it shows a complete failure of the coaching staff to have their players prepared for a situation that is likely to arise, especially in the playoffs (If we make it).
The Avs likely wouldn't have scored, however it's not the job of the coaching staff to score goals. The coaching staff's job is to put the players in the best possible position to score goals. Late in the game last night the coaches failed, miserably, in their job. Needless to say a rested Wild team won the draw, cleared the puck and then had the energy to easily turn away the Avs final rush.
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