There have been a couple of complaints popping up in the comments during and after GDTs regarding the system that the Blues have been using to play. Actually, systems, because we've used quite a few over the year to mixed results. Hockey teams become known for their style of play - mention "Mid-90s Devils" and watch people begin to get irate about how Jaques Lemaire has the absolute worst style of hockey, and how the Devils have killed, and are killing again, the joy in hockey. Mention the Minnesota Wild(s) and marvel at how quickly people fall asleep. Flyers? Chances are you'll get someone upset about their dirty style of play. But, despite the fact that these are all negative opinions of teams, they're all part of their identity, their game.
The two Conferences even have fairly distinct reputations: the East is where the open ice is; where power forwards like Crosby, Malkin, Kovalchuk, and Ovechkin have free reign and goalies like Brodeur, Miller, and Toskala (hahaha - just kidding) have to stand on their heads. The West is where you have the grit and defense; where players like Iginla, Nash, and Thornton have to grind it out, and where teams like the Red Wings have prided themselves on the defensive capabilities of Tomas Holmstrom's ass for years.
But what is the Blues' reputation? What's our distinctive style of play? Are we power forward central, like the resurgent Blackhawks, or do we have to work for it every night like the Stars and Avs? Are we blue collar, or are we going to get tossed in jail pretending to commit a white-collar crime... pretending we're something we're not, and failing miserably?
Frankly, I really need to figure out a way to pick a topic that I can do point-counterpoint on better, because this one I'm totally biased in one way, and that is 110% against the dump and chase. That is the system of desperation. You use that system, and the opposing team smells blood in the water, regardless of if they're the Sharks or not. You get the puck, you're not sure what to do, so you dump it all the way down the ice, hoping you get there before the other team. Yeah, that's useful... if you're on a LINE CHANGE. If your team isn't built for speed, and aside from Perron and Kariya, we're really not, you're not going to get there first. Sorry. What this system tells the other team is that you don't have the patience to let players get into position, or you don't have any idea what to do once they do manage to get something established. This is the system of bottom-feeding teams who have coaches that are just trying to get guys to do something, anything, resembling playing hockey. This is not us. Allow me to repeat that for anyone who thinks that this works for teams: no.
So, when dump and chase stops... no, that's not the word, because it would have had to have started to work to begin with... when dump and chase doesn't work, the Blues have been resorting to making tape-to-tape passes. Ok, this is an improvement, because we have players that can accomplish this well, like McDonald and Perron, for example. It allows plays to be established on the fly to throw the opposition off. Unfortunately, when this becomes your main method of attack, everyone knows you'll look for the pass before the shot, and will cut the pass off or break it up. It became so obvious at the Thrashers/Blues game that my mother pointed it out and was starting to get pissed off by it. She usually watches 2-3 games a year, and those are the ones that I take her to. If she catches it, well then, how do you not expect the other team to?
Honestly, we're blue collar. We work for our points. We took down the Wings by playing rough around the boards, laying people out, shoving them out of the way (and our crease). We park it in front of the goal, and wait for the rebound. It's dirty, it's greasy, but by God does it work. Big Walt's gotten almost 1,050 points that way. The game against the B's was a good example - Walter was there, tipped it in. Cola rammed himself at Rask, and boom. Goal. Stick with what works, guys. Our best and most beloved players are the rough and tumble guys. The ones we get the most pissed off at our the finesse players (except for Frenchie). Gotta stick with what we know, eh?