The SENS are about to open their first training camp under Guy Boucher and Marc Crawford. The 2016 season is GM Pierre Dorion’s first as the leader of this team. What can’t be ignored, the fact that the team won’t improve or be successful until players, coaches and the GM are committed to a set of goals that will ensure improvements in team play.
The evaluation process in training camp MUST be focused on identifying players who are willing to compete and play “TEAM” tactical hockey as a group. The SENS defensive zone the last two years under Cameron can only be described as a disaster. Why, because of a lack of proper coaching plain and simple. Don’t blame players or label players when it is clear the group didn’t know their roles on how to support the puck defensively or offensively in their own end of the rink and quite frankly should have been better in the neutral and offensive zones. We are all aware of the need to be better on the PP and PK.
My hope is that the training camp in 2016 is going to be the most competitive hockey camp in the NHL. The new group of coaches must come in with the goal of teaching and coaching how the puck must be supported offensively and defensively as a group. Playing good defensive hockey is hard work and quite frankly fans are tired of watching the SENS players unable to perform the following tasks because of a lack of education and coaching:
- Recover a dump-in (soft or hard) by the opponent under pressure and exit the zone,
- Defend puck locations in the DZ; puck side corner, hash mark/sideboards, point, behind the net or middle ice net and slot zones,
- Inability to lock down the net and slot zones under pressure,
- Inability to play man coverage,
- Inability to exit the zone puck side with five in the box (structure),
- Inability to force puck turnovers in the zone individually (playing body-stick-puck) and as a group with structure and pressure.
- The D-pairing not defending the DZ by backing up and not playing one stick gap control,
- Forwards not hustling into the DZ on the back check to support their defensive and offensive responsibilities.
The team has to be better at defending individually and as a group. Let’s hope camp is about seeing who can play the body one on one and force turnovers. Let’s hope camp is about evaluating which players are listening, learning and executing their roles. We hope camp is going to be competitive and see which players want to battle every shift and be accountable for their play to teammates. The team has to be taught and coached on playing team Defense. The guys on this team haven’t been held accountable for soft play and not competing. Let’s hope the new group sets clear performance goals and expectations for training camp 2016 and selects the new roster based on performance. You can’t keep changing coaches. Time to teach, coach and set expectations. The draft and development programs must be geared to choosing character players who will buy into the new way in Ottawa. Go SENS!