Thursday, November 30, 2006

How to Beat a Bulldog

In my limited experience with Bulldogs I've found that a good sized switch will usually do the job. When the continuous wheezing and spiteful pissing in the corner gets to be too much; go out to the backyard Willow tree and cut something about a half-inch in diameter (it should be small enough to flex but not so large as to break bones). After it thaws ... go to town on the ingrate (you feed 'em ... walk 'em ... buy them stoopid chew toys and they repay you by crapping in the kitchen the first time you run up to the store for some sour cream? ... Pffftt). Bulldogs are stubborn as hell and they just can't learn a lesson without a good beating. I know Cesar Millan would try all that dog/owner psycho-mumbo-jumbo to fix the dog's bad habits but with Bulldogs that is never the case. It isn't your fault: The lack of oxygen to their brains simply won't allow them to learn anything without some welts on their ass to remind them. Go ahead ... report me to the SPCA.

Hockey Bulldogs are a different story. Sure ... you can take a Willow switch and give 'em a good beating but the referee will send you to the doghouse. What kind of world is that? In order to beat UMD this weekend the Seawolves (By the way ... the most well behaved mythical dog-like creature ever) will have to do 3 things in my mind: involve the D offensively; convert on the PP; and maintain focus and effort.

Coach Shyiak and the players often speak about getting their "cycle" working well as a key to getting offensive pressure. The idea is to work the puck down low until someone can break to the front of the net and then get the puck to them. It's a sound forechecking philosophy and we've seen it work for the 'Wolves. With a couple of weeks off to work on it I'm hopeful that we fans will see a couple of pucks make their way back to the point. I know forwards historically don't trust defensemen. It's a carryover from youth hockey when most passes back to the D were fumbled and mishandled. It's brutal to watch defensemen standing on the points picking their noses. So the first key to victory this week is to get the Dmen more involved when the cycle is working the puck. UMD is a good defensively (positionally) in their zone and spreading the puck around the zone should help.

The second key is (as it usually is) special teams. The Seawolf PK has been especially good this season and the sort of comittment that penalty killers have shown will need to continue. Equally important will be UAA's ability to screen Stalock and have players in position to pounce on rebounds. Against UND Coach Shyiak seemed to know that putting pucks at Greico's feet would be a good strategy and doing exactly that created a couple of easy goals. I don't have any advice as to where Stalock's weaknesses might be but the kid is a freshman ... so there's got to be something he doesn't do well. I'll trust that the hours Shyiak, Whitten and Blair spend watching tapes will have revealed something. UMD has a nice percentage on the PP but honestly a large chunk of that comes from one game; the point being that there aren't any "special" worries on the kill.

The 3rd key this weekend is focus. 60 minutes of 110% on Friday night and 60 minutes of the same on Saturday. It's an important series in terms of points for UAA and every player is going to need to put out that sort of effort on every shift if the Seawolves want to improve/maintain thier league standing. I haven't seen much in terms of not being focused from the players during games this year (nice double negative eh?). Coach Shyiak seems to have everyone on the same page when it comes to playing hard for the whole game. With the extra week of rest sometimes a team can come out flat at first. That will be just the kind of opportunity that UMD will be looking for. It's a door that UAA can't afford to leave open.

1 comment:

Suze said...

What an ugly win by the Seawolves. Let's hope they play better tomorrow night.

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