Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mavericks: Slaughter, Butcher Then Broil

The 08-09 edition of the Minnesota St. - Mankato Mavericks won't look too much different from last years squad to most fans. They'll challenge for every loose puck. They'll buzz on the forecheck trying to create turnovers. They'll have the same excellent goaltender. Regular readers will recognize my Chuck Wepner (one time heavyweight boxer on whom the Rocky series is loosely based) analogy for their overacheiving style of play. It still applies. The Jutting-style is nothing if not consistent. There doesn't look to be any added subtlty to the game plan. The Mavericks are going to come at the Seawolves as hard and as fast as their skates can carry them.

The Mavericks have three lines with fairly evenly spread talent. There are no likely future NHLer's amongst them but many are fully capable of inflicting damage here in D1 world. I was going to do the whole ... the fist line of blah, blah and blah have accomplished this and that in this part of this post but forget it. Not only does that bore me to tears; their scoring could come from anywhere in the lineup. They're reasonably experienced but not flashy on the blueline. I suppose the fact that the great majority of their roster is from Minnesota has something to do with my non-inspiration. Seriously, after the Gophers, Wisconsin, UND, Si Si, DU, UMD and SCSU get their choices of Minnesota based talent what is left? The Mavericks. Disdain for the lower echelon of Minnesota hockey talent aside. They've all played at a high enough level to be pretty damned competitive. Don't expect UAA to blow them out.

I watched most of both Maverick games versus the Gophers last weekend. In Friday's game whenever the Gophers looked to pull away the Mavericks snuck back in. They were very opportunistic in the Goph's zone and made them pay during the few openings/chances they had. The Gophers played right into the Mavericks defensive hands though with excessive cross-ice passing attempts both on the PP and at even strength. The Mavericks broke most of that up. On Saturday night the Gophers moved to a more possession oriented passing game and if not for stellar goaltending they would have blown the Mavericks out of the building.

For the Seawolves I think play away from the puck is going to be just as important as what happens on the puck. Guys are going to have to get to spots where teammates can make an easy pass to them. Puck handlers shouldn't be shy to pretend they're playing for the old Red Army team of the 70's and circle back with the puck if there isn't a clear opening. Trying to force the puck against the opportunistic Mavericks will lead to turnovers. Keeping the puck and working for quality chances will frustrate their style. Putting the puck on a teammates stick will be more important than it's been all year. The Maverick's WILL BE the most "in your face" team that the Seawolves have faced.

I also believe the Mavericks may be susceptible to secondary pressure from the blueline. An accurate and timely drop pass from a forward in the Mankato zone back could be a very effective tactic. Defensemen joining a rush and being active in the other zone are already key parts of the Seawolves offensive scheme so focusing on utilizing that to it's best potential will be important. It will contribute to the possesion ethos that I've already mentioned. The longer the Seawolves can keep the puck on their sticks the better. Is all this sounding overly obvious?

Keeping Zacharias from seeing the puck will be another key this weekend. Traffic in front of the net will translate to goals. Expect both teams to make the now usual parade to the penalty box. Expect the team who visits less often to have the upper-hand. Yep ... it could be THE theme for the year eh?


seawolvesfan said...

has anybody else noticed that everybody is saying that we need 2 stay out of the box, but has anybody else noticed that were a very physical team (if not the most physical team in the WCHA, so with a physical, gritty (get in your face and goaltenders line of vision style of play) and scrappy team its tough not to stay of the box, im not saying because of the way we play we have 2 spend a lot of time in the box, but we can play that way-just smart and dont push the line and force ?referees? 2 call penalties against us
on a happier note a great start and lets make sure we keep it up, last weekend really liked the penalty killers-DID A GREAT JOB with what if i remember right 4 straight penalties right during the last half of the 3rd period, also 2 weeks ago, and 4 the first time this season u couldnt here the puck drop at the Sully-finally a lot of reasons to get our fans cheering, GOOD LUCK SEAWOLVES AND HOPE WE CAN KEEP IT UP

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see Bryce get the start on Friday, and if he plays great again, let him start on Saturday too.

About penalties, everything is being called. It seems like if the guys simply touch a player with their stick they call hooking. The team needs to start using the new rules within their practice games.

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