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What Is Good Coaching: Regular Season Vs. Playoffs


JamesB

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It kind of comes with the territory on boards like CDC that opinions get polarized, and that certainly applies to AV. Many people think he is great but many others want to dump him.I would like to raise a couple of points about differences in playoff coaching vs. regular season coaching and apply them to AV.

First, on the record, there is no question that AV has an excellent regular season coaching record. However, there is also no question that his playoff record has been disappointing, as his teams have consistently underperformed in the playoffs relative to regular season performance. And that includes last year when they were first in the regular season but "second" in the playoffs.

I think good coaching involves four main things.

1. Technical stuff -- x's and o's. This relates to where the players position themselves, use of the shoot-ins vs. passing or carrying the puck into the offensive zone, etc.

2. Personnel judgement -- line combinations, line matching, deciding who plays and how many minutes they get, etc.

3. Motivation and Player Development -- getting the most out the players -- helping each player play to his potential.

4. Adjustments -- making changes to get rid of weaknesses and exploit strenghts.

I think AV is good on the technical stuff (although a lot of that is handled by assistant coaches). This applies equally to the regular season and the playoffs. I will not revisit personnel judgement as I do not think this is the key issue that separates the playoffs from the regular season.

To me, motivation is a big issue. In the regular season it is important NOT to get players too "amped up". It is a long season and it is important for players to stay on an even keel, not to get burned out.

The playoffs are very different. In the playoffs you need to pull out the stops. I am not saying the players do not want to win -- of course they do. But I think it is well established that a highly motivational coach can do a lot to reinforce the need to "play the right way" as well as to play hard. AV is known as a coach who does not get all that involved with the players and does not communciate very well with them -- he is pretty distant. I think this works better in the regular season than in the playoffs.

Adjustments are also a big issue. In the regular season you play one game against a team then move on to another team. If there is a weakness against one team you do not need to focus on it.

In the playoffs, where you play the same team multiple times, it is important to make adjustments. In my view, AV is consistently poor on this dimension. He is known as a stubborn coach. (Like, can we agree to stop using the backpass to set up the powerplay. Other teams figured out how to defend that about half way through the season.)

Relative to the ability of his players, I think AV usually gets outcoached in the playoffs. Other coaches make adjustments. He is slow to adjust. I am not saying it is easy to identify adjustments. Certainly I do not know what adjustments should be made. But it seems clear that quite a few other NHL coaches are better at it than AV.

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This is kind of what I've been feeling lately too. My opinion is that when the playoffs come around teams "kick into high gear". Everyone talks about how teams have a "top gear" that they go into come playoff time. I think LA Kings is a perfect example of that as they scraped by as an 8th place seed, yet they are handing our asses to us.

Vancouver as a team lacks this "top gear".

Last year we saw individual players step up and kick into their own top gear. Kesler turned on his "beast mode", King Burr turned into Mr. Clutch. We saw "role players" step up in big ways. Yet there were other individuals that played at the same level they did during the regular season. Example: Roberto Luongo. This is not a bash on Luongo as he played stellar in the regular season, and was still competitive in the playoffs (hence a game 7 stanely cup final finish), yet it was clear at certain times that the opposition goalie stepped their game up further than Luongo (Tim Thomas).

We can see through the example of LA that at least the majority of their team has kicked up their playing into a "top gear". Remember Mike Richards of the regular season? He was a non-factor. Now hes wrecking us. Kopitar has stepped up as an elite playmaker, and Penner/Brown are huge scoring threats.

Who has stepped up this year for the Canucks?

Roberto Luongo. He is the only player who has consistantly put forth a strong effort in both games. Other players like Hansen have played well, but I wouldn't say they're playing in a top gear, they're just playing like they did in the regular season.

My complaint is that the Canucks aren't fighting to get into that top gear. They play every game like they have nothing to play for (hence their historical problem with finishing a series strong). This year it has bit them in the ass (so far).

If the Canucks don't kick it up a notch, the Kings will wipe the ice with us. If the Canucks find that top gear AS A TEAM, the Stanley Cup is theirs, with or without Daniel Sedin.

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This is kind of what I've been feeling lately too. My opinion is that when the playoffs come around teams "kick into high gear". Everyone talks about how teams have a "top gear" that they go into come playoff time. I think LA Kings is a perfect example of that as they scraped by as an 8th place seed, yet they are handing our asses to us.

Vancouver as a team lacks this "top gear".

Last year we saw individual players step up and kick into their own top gear. Kesler turned on his "beast mode", King Burr turned into Mr. Clutch. We saw "role players" step up in big ways. Yet there were other individuals that played at the same level they did during the regular season. Example: Roberto Luongo. This is not a bash on Luongo as he played stellar in the regular season, and was still competitive in the playoffs (hence a game 7 stanely cup final finish), yet it was clear at certain times that the opposition goalie stepped their game up further than Luongo (Tim Thomas).

We can see through the example of LA that at least the majority of their team has kicked up their playing into a "top gear". Remember Mike Richards of the regular season? He was a non-factor. Now hes wrecking us. Kopitar has stepped up as an elite playmaker, and Penner/Brown are huge scoring threats.

Who has stepped up this year for the Canucks?

Roberto Luongo. He is the only player who has consistantly put forth a strong effort in both games. Other players like Hansen have played well, but I wouldn't say they're playing in a top gear, they're just playing like they did in the regular season.

My complaint is that the Canucks aren't fighting to get into that top gear. They play every game like they have nothing to play for (hence their historical problem with finishing a series strong). This year it has bit them in the ass (so far).

If the Canucks don't kick it up a notch, the Kings will wipe the ice with us. If the Canucks find that top gear AS A TEAM, the Stanley Cup is theirs, with or without Daniel Sedin.

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I think coaching is overrated. Guys are plenty motivated and they should know what to do by now.

Coaching should be about playing the guys in the right position with the right mix of guys and having a good system that best fits the group. Does AV do this well? He's decent i think.

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This is kind of what I've been feeling lately too. My opinion is that when the playoffs come around teams "kick into high gear". Everyone talks about how teams have a "top gear" that they go into come playoff time. I think LA Kings is a perfect example of that as they scraped by as an 8th place seed, yet they are handing our asses to us.

Vancouver as a team lacks this "top gear". ..

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What I don't like is the fact that AV is always calm and lets his players do whatever they want.

The last two or three years all the players have said they like AV because if they have a bad game, he doesn't criticize them or yell at them to be better, he apparently does a regular practice and lets them figure it out on there own, because they supposedly can do it on there owns.

Well when you're playing like crap, you probably should get a kick in the pants from the coach once in awhile at least. Have to address what they are doing wrong and make them practice doing it right, or change it up... or something!

AV needs to get mad!

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I have said in another topic that it really seems for the pass 2 years that the team is running the team rather than the coach running the team. How many time have the Canucks have held a player only meeting thru out the years? the OP describe AV perfectly, the only reason why AV has had as much success as he had is because he was blessed with a good team right from year 1. Luongo was the reason he wont the Jack Adams trophy.

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It kind of comes with the territory on boards like CDC that opinions get polarized, and that certainly applies to AV. Many people think he is great but many others want to dump him.I would like to raise a couple of points about differences in playoff coaching vs. regular season coaching and apply them to AV. First, on the record, there is no question that AV has an excellent regular season coaching record. However, there is also no question that his playoff record has been disappointing, as his teams have consistently underperformed in the playoffs relative to regular season performance. And that includes last year when they were first in the regular season but "second" in the playoffs. I think good coaching involves four main things. 1. Technical stuff -- x's and o's. This relates to where the players position themselves, use of the shoot-ins vs. passing or carrying the puck into the offensive zone, etc. 2. Personnel judgement -- line combinations, line matching, deciding who plays and how many minutes they get, etc. 3. Motivation and Player Development -- getting the most out the players -- helping each player play to his potential. 4. Adjustments -- making changes to get rid of weaknesses and exploit strenghts. I think AV is good on the technical stuff (although a lot of that is handled by assistant coaches). This applies equally to the regular season and the playoffs. I will not revisit personnel judgement as I do not think this is the key issue that separates the playoffs from the regular season. To me, motivation is a big issue. In the regular season it is important NOT to get players too "amped up". It is a long season and it is important for players to stay on an even keel, not to get burned out. The playoffs are very different. In the playoffs you need to pull out the stops. I am not saying the players do not want to win -- of course they do. But I think it is well established that a highly motivational coach can do a lot to reinforce the need to "play the right way" as well as to play hard. AV is known as a coach who does not get all that involved with the players and does not communciate very well with them -- he is pretty distant. I think this works better in the regular season than in the playoffs. Adjustments are also a big issue. In the regular season you play one game against a team then move on to another team. If there is a weakness against one team you do not need to focus on it. In the playoffs, where you play the same team multiple times, it is important to make adjustments. In my view, AV is consistently poor on this dimension. He is known as a stubborn coach. (Like, can we agree to stop using the backpass to set up the powerplay. Other teams figured out how to defend that about half way through the season.) Relative to the ability of his players, I think AV usually gets outcoached in the playoffs. Other coaches make adjustments. He is slow to adjust. I am not saying it is easy to identify adjustments. Certainly I do not know what adjustments should be made. But it seems clear that quite a few other NHL coaches are better at it than AV.
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Thank you for this post. Could not agree more: As someone who likes AV as a person and occasionally even chuckles at his antics with the press, my doubts are mounting with regards to the effectiveness of his coaching style. The other day I noted in a different thread that the laissez-faire attitude that seems to have worked (or not - depending on what your parameters may be) for him so far is not doing it anymore. Coaching may not be the only factor in the slump we're seeing with our guys, but it's definitely beginning to look like it's a significant part of this unfavorable equation.

On a lighter note - I say we let the Green Men coach... :emot-parrot: ...get our boys pumped & amped up with green kick-ass power!

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Yep, agreed.  Isn't it the coach who is supposed to craft the individual talent into a team?  I watch the Pittsburgh/Philly and I ask myself how is it that those two teams can elevate their play so much?  What are the coaches in that series doing that AV isn't?

In fact, all the teams same to be playing with purpose and a mission while our guys look kinda lost.  Why is that?  Isn't it the coach that is supposed to get the team to gel?

Just wondering....

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I'm thinking AV will be more animated if game 3 is lost. Win/loss, I'm really hoping AV stops trying to act cool. Nobody here knows what he says to motivate the players but the end result (losing) hasn't changed.

I agree with gourami12, the Canucks look lost. Watching both of the Phi/Pitts games, I can see the intensity and heart from both teams. Every single time a player has the puck, he's getting hit hard; hit or miss. Yeah goaltending in that series is not top notch but that's because of the firepower both teams have. Canucks seem completely useless against the Kings' speed and determination.

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I like AV and think he's a great coach. He went from a defense first attitude with Nonis to an offense minded team literally overnight with Gillis and company. The intensity to the Philly/Pitts team is based on their ongoing rivalry as if we went first round with Chicago and opinions on a Philly/Pitts game is different from watching your home team going down in flames. A little Bias.

But OP and others do have a point. Has the team tuned him out? are they still saving themselves for the playoffs? They do look lost on the plays and that's not the norm. This will be the test of adversity for AV to put himself in the books as the best coach Canucks ever had or he will be the sacrificial lamb with an early exit. I think they'll still pull it off but their play needs to drastically improve. that means intensity, positioning and entering the offensive zone.

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I remember when I used to live in Tampa, the Buccaneers (NFL) always made it to the playoffs and fizzled out in the 1-2nd round consistently under Tony Dungy. He could not get them over that "hump" even with an elite group of players. Dungy gets fired and the owners brought in Jon Gruden from Oakland and he became the winner of the first Super Bowl in Tampa history, his first year as the Bucs coach. Dungy did learn from this and eventually won a Super Bowl with the Colts and Peyton Manning, but he became a different coach after the Tampa years. Very similar situation here, some things have to change before these players lose their shelf life...

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I like AV and think he's a great coach. He went from a defense first attitude with Nonis to an offense minded team literally overnight with Gillis and company. The intensity to the Philly/Pitts team is based on their ongoing rivalry as if we went first round with Chicago and opinions on a Philly/Pitts game is different from watching your home team going down in flames. A little Bias.

But OP and others do have a point. Has the team tuned him out? are they still saving themselves for the playoffs? They do look lost on the plays and that's not the norm. This will be the test of adversity for AV to put himself in the books as the best coach Canucks ever had or he will be the sacrificial lamb with an early exit.  I think they'll still pull it off but their play needs to drastically improve. that means intensity, positioning and entering the offensive zone.

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