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2018-19 Post-Mortem

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  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 12:20 PM
    Message # 7234745

    Branching off into a new topic, so it's not buried in the NCHC thread. Many of us are talking about what happened this year, what we are looking forward to next year.

    I'll bite. (Here... because I don't want to call out people on twitter.)

    As we move into year three of the Gabinet era, there is loads of room for growth - from both the coaches and the players. It was clear in just about every game this season: we were a second too slow, a step behind, a pound light. I wouldn't say we were outclassed. But we just weren't where we need to be. The gap is razor thin - and with it, as Gabs pointed out all season, our margin for error was also razor thin.

    To start with where we need to improve. We need to be stronger and more physical. If we lose a race to the puck, get physical - let them know we're there. We need to be stronger on the sticks, and we need to make stronger plays on 50/50 pucks - not a reach, not a poke, and don't get lifted. Get in, get dirty. It starts with training, and attitude - we need to make a big adjustment, there.

    There is a lot of concern about Winnie graduating. Yes, he could steal us a game - and he did. But he wasn't consistent, and that hurt us. There were 3 or 4 consecutive games where he made a gaffe that put us in trouble. Goaltending is an unknown for us next year. I'm excited about Saville, but he's a freshman. I think he's going to remind us a lot of Chris Holt - but Holtzy took some lumps as a frosh. As for Tomek, he just finished a positive stint with Slovakia's national team at Winter Universiade. I hope he can build on it. His issue is purely mental at this point. He needs to start and finish a college hockey game - something he has not done yet.

    I suspect Saville and Tomek will share the net early. (I'm thinking the trip to Alaska.) Give them both a game, and no matter how bad it gets - let them finish it out.

    To be honest, there isn't a facet of the game that the Mavericks need to improve upon. The offense needs to get better, the defense needs to get better, the goaltending needs to get better, the physical play needs to get better, the decision-making needs to get better, and we need to win more faceoffs.

    But hope is not lost. There is a lot to like about this team going forward. Knoepke has established himself as a shutdown defenseman, and Dean Stewart took a HUGE step forward as his partner.

    Keck is one of the fastest players in the conference. He just needs a move on his breakaways - do it once, just to get goalies thinking.

    Weiss just needs to get healthy. The kid is talented beyond belief, but you can tell he wasn't 100% and it frustrated him. He only took 31 shots. He came back too early from the shoulder injury. Next year that number needs to be 131 shots... and he's gonna be good for 15-20 goals. Rest, recovery, and restrengthening of his shoulder is going to help his passing, too.

    As long as Ward avoids a sophomore slump - he's your leader. He makes the right plays, the smart plays, the hockey plays. Even that penalty at Duluth is a positive - he's going to find a way, leave no stone unturned. (Calling it: Knoepke and Ward are co-captains for the next two years, then Ward becomes a 3-year captain as a senior.)

    Conley is another player who showed us something late. He's turned the corner. I think he was a bit shaken, or lacking in confidence early (think what Tomek is dealing with). The coaches have shown confidence in him, and he has rewarded them.

    Lawson McDonald has become a steadying force. He's Knoepke Light. I'm not sure he has the size to step into Knoepke's shoes, but he can hold his own. Knoepke and McDonald give Omaha a chance to match up defensively with deeper lineups. Knoepke gets the big guns, Lawson takes the second line. Is there a third of their kind in the offering?

    Ranks 3-9 return from the scoring leaders... and Pulkkinen was 11th. Your top 6 forwards for next year are likely in the group. Add Primeau, and a couple freshmen -- you're looking at a potential for 3 deep in scoring lines. That makes for tough matchups.

    You can fill out the bottom line with energy guys. Kothenbeutel is already on the roster. He can be a pest, and draw penalties. Sundberg (whom I suspect was injured this year) showed an ability to get physical as a freshman. You're one piece for a very solid lineup.

    I think the foundation is there. The recruiting - after one lost year, and now two recovery years - is back on track. I don't think we will challenge for a conference championship - we're likely on the outside for home ice. But... this year we showed we can compete with anyone. Next year we're going to win a few of those games and scare a lot of opponents.

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 6:25 PM
    Reply # 7235374 on 7234745

     I agree with a lot of what Chis wrote, but (seriously) what do I really know about coaching? If I DID know what was wrong, and what to do to fix it, and who to recruit and how to convince them to join my team, then I should get into coaching.

    I'm not likely to be joining a coaching staff anytime soon.

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:46 PM
    Reply # 7235585 on 7234745

    I love the ‘to start with’. Physical is not something we’ve been enough of. Think first period Denver on Saturday night. They owned the ice, Denver was reeling. Even Luko looked a little off. I’m not talking dirty hockey, just let them know they WILL pay for that yard of ice. In the defensive zone, make them earn possession. Too many times, we looked indecisive, played tentative, paid for it. I like mixing up the lines a little more, put a promising freshman on each and leave the lines alone to built intuitive playmaking potential. After game 4, adjust, but get 5-6 good weeks in before changing lines (we seemed to do that every week and it showed).

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 3:57 PM
    Reply # 7236884 on 7234745

    First, I need to dispel you of the notion that Lukosevicius is that good. I suspect he's going to be this year's Tanner Jaillet - a player with big college numbers, who gets nothing more than an ECHL deal.

    Whatever Omaha did in 4 games against Denver - that needs to be the plan going forward. It's similar to what we did against Duluth - but more physical.

    That said, you also need a plan for St. Cloud and Colorado College - as in, how you adjust to the international sheet.

    Last modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 3:57 PM | Anonymous member
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 7:35 PM
    Reply # 7237169 on 7234745

    Well written article by Chris about the players; but, I agree with Ed unless this Coaching staff steps up its game we will continue to get out coached in the NCHC ... I am thinking of the W Mich game where Gabs sends 6 on the ice and the boys give up the power play goal that is the difference even through there are some that say a penalty late in the game caused the difference... but, isn’t making sure your guys not to be stupid late in the game coaching too?  Another comes to mind in the first StCloud game where they obviously watched film on UNO and held back and stole a puck for a break away when Omaha tried to kick back to a D in the O-zone. I was told that this staff has NHL coaching experience and not to worry.  Well, Bill Callhahan, Bo Pelini and Mike Riley all had NFL experience (2 of 3 were head coaches) and we saw how that played out down in Lincoln... I was told that gabs got stuck with players because Blaise mailed it in the last year; but, i ask you who was the Assistant Head Coach in charge of recruiting and allowed the sub par recruiting to happen?  He has been on staff for 3 years now and I am willing to give him 2 more but is seriously have my doubts that the next 2 years will be any better than the last year. I hear a lot of lip serivice about how close the guys are and how mistakes were made on the ice but I have yet to hear him take responsibility over this last two years of below mediocrely.  

    Last modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 7:36 PM | Anonymous member
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 10:42 PM
    Reply # 7237495 on 7234745

    Chris, agree with you more than you know, but Luko is Denver’s “guy”, always part of the play and always involved in the offense. Except, when was made to pay the price. Solid physical play HAS to be part of the scheme, and has been sorely missing for the past 4 years. You summed it up well, the attempted check is a reach in (better yet, a “reach around”) lacking presence. Hit em, rub em, make them work for ownership. Break up the cycle but entering it, don’t just stand there and watch! My favorite defenseman, and you know who he is, is skilled at watching.take someone out! Worst case it’s 4x4, not a shooting gallery. Also, no one gets to loiter in front of the goal, you don’t have to commit penalties to prevent unobstructed rebound/screen/deflection opportunities. On Blais’ last year, the blame goes to Blais, from my understanding he wasn’t even in Omaha most weeks.

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 10:44 PM
    Reply # 7237496 on 7234745

    Rick, the WMU game was a travesty. Gabs May have made a mistake, but the players have ownership too. That penalty was not the difference in the game, the zebras were.

  • Thursday, March 21, 2019 7:41 PM
    Reply # 7239205 on 7237169
    Anonymous wrote:

    I am thinking of the W Mich game where Gabs sends 6 on the ice and the boys give up the power play goal that is the difference

    Another comes to mind in the first StCloud game where they obviously watched film on UNO and held back and stole a puck for a break away when Omaha tried to kick back to a D in the O-zone.

    I was told that this staff has NHL coaching experience and not to worry.  Well, Bill Callhahan, Bo Pelini and Mike Riley all had NFL experience (2 of 3 were head coaches) and we saw how that played out down in Lincoln...

    I was told that gabs got stuck with players because Blaise mailed it in the last year; but, i ask you who was the Assistant Head Coach in charge of recruiting and allowed the sub par recruiting to happen? 

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Pump the breaks a little, here. We can point to individual plays. But players are not marionettes.  Players make decisions and need to produce. Coaches can't think for players and can't force actions.

    And you can't cast judgement after one year, or even two. 5 years. Let's revisit in 5 years - when Gabs has his players here and can freely install his system without impediment.

    As for the last year of Blais. You can't pin that on Gabs - a first year assistant. What was Mendelson doing besides taking up space? - which is all his reputation was.

    We need to show some patience, give them a chance. This isn't a rebuild. This is an overhaul.



  • Friday, March 22, 2019 12:00 AM
    Reply # 7239421 on 7234745

    More great content to catch up on!  Not sure how Luko got brought up or why, but I'll tie that in the physicality.  If you aren't Tampa Bay and can just outscore everybody, then you need to grind people down, work them, win pucks, agree with this sentiment from everybody.  I don't watch every game, home or away and may have the wrong understanding about a guy like Luko, but he's a heart and soul type player.  We need somebody in that role. 

    Fair to think that guys like Conley and freshman were intimidated, especially for freshman but everybody's trying to find their place.  Be nice to figure that out early next year with a bunch of new players.  Also loved watching the emerging game out of Knoepke.  And McDonald too.  Knoepke Light, that's freaking hilarious, love it.

    I get the idea that coach makes the lines and sets some plays or the PP and the like, but I agree that players still makes the decisions.  I could go on and on about the Wild but I'll keep it brief.  They got a new GM and he traded guys who were believed to be "core" players, and were players on the PP.  The PP has been a mess and some blame was placed on the asst. coach.  But they've taken guys they traded for and placed them right on the PP, there's no chemistry and it makes me wanna scratch my eyes out.

  • Friday, March 22, 2019 7:02 PM
    Reply # 7240683 on 7234745
    Several posts here and elsewhere have mentioned that Dean Blaise seemed disconnected and did not really recruit during his final years at UNO. I haven’t heard anyone ask why. 
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