What I saw last night was a team that didn't play physical at all. The Devils were skating circles around them all night. It's frustrating when the opponent's announcers are surprised at the number of goals being scored by their team. Even in their post game they interviewed Elias and he thought it was strange; almost went so far as to call it luck.When the Blues play physical and finish checks they create opportunities. That's their game. They aren't a pretty, finesse team. When they try to be, they struggle. That's kind of what I've been seeing lately; a lot of trying to carry the puck across the length of the ice and make a fancy play instead of just getting it on net and fighting for it. When they get after it, they have success. Why they aren't playing that way lately, I don't know. Maybe it's the flu, maybe it's the Olympics, but whatever it is I'm still not too worried yet. Like others have said, teams go through rough stretches. We haven't really seen one yet this season, so we're probably due. The optimist in me knows this is the same team that has cruised to the best start in franchise history, so you know they are capable when they're on. They're just struggling right now. That's why I go back and forth on trades. I'd be worried about shaking things up too much. I guess, as a fan, I just put my faith in Armstrong and everyone in the front office to make the right decisions because that's all you can really do.
I'm sitting on the fire Ken Hitchcock fence right now. On one hand he's an amazing tactician. On the other, he can't coach the team worth shit. No personal responsibility demanded of the team, no bag skating, no accountability. Just set the bar high enough to win games, but not high enough to win it all and therein lies the difference.
That's the mark of a poor coach. I'm curious if this is why Columbus fired him. You don't fire the guy that led your team into their first playoffs ever the very next season....that to me sounds ridiculously suspicious. There's a story there that might explain a few things, because I feel that our main glaring weakness in our armor is that side of Hitch.
I can live with the 7-1 loss to Jersy if we learn from it and it fuels fire. Hell, send a pissed off Brett Hull to the locker room and have him bitch them out. Bag skate the team. Something, please, something that says this is absolutely not acceptable, that the team is more important than you and that we're in it to win with more than words.
Much as I think Torts is a douche, I applaud him because here's a guy that will go out there for his team. It made him look like a jackass, but it instilled fear into everyone that Torts ain't a guy you screw with, both by the opposition and his own team AND won him respect from his teammates because when he tells you to do something hard, HE WILL HOLD THE BAR by getting up and doing it himself, too.
That's leadership. We got the skills, but we play without heart and we only accept good enough. And we're better than good enough. We just don't play like it.
To me, you'll have players that walk in with that instilled and you see it from them, people like Backes, Sobotka, Schwartz and you have those that lose heart quick or suffer from self-esteem or self-respect issues. It sounds stupid, but it's true. It's Hitch's job to demand more and raise morale and set the bar and make the players meet the bar or they're benched. To me, he's failing all of that.
You can have the best strategy in the world and the players buy into it and play it. But no heart and we get the crap we saw with Jersey. They knew how to play, they simply didn't care enough to.
60 Million payroll. The Rivermen gone. The Note, according to the latest rumours, hunting hardcore for Miller and it may cost us Rattie or Jaskin. Army is giving Hitch everything he needs to win it all.
There's no excuse here.
EDIT: Saying all that, don't fire Ken Hitchcock. He needs some sort of attitude adjustment or somesuch. I'm a proponent for coaches that demand things from their players and he strikes me as a guy that sits at the dinner table and tells stories and jokes. What I find funny is that he sets the bar ridiculously high for players that are rookies or in the system, but gives far too much slack to the Veterans. That's what I see anyway. Maybe, just maybe Brett Hull should give him the same talk he gave Brett, especially since the roles are reversed now: Brett is above Hitch.