Being a coach at any level will always be open to scrutiny. Right from Minor Hockey, where you get the parents questioning where and why their kids are not playing, to the Pros where the owners, management, media, and fans want to run the team.

Willie Desjardins is no different from any other NHL coach in that he also will be analyzed on his coaching tactics. I surely do not have all the answers and have only coached at the Minor Hockey and Industrial League level for 25 years.

I can tell you even at the above levels what takes place in the dressing room and interactions with players is different from the perception you get from being at a distance. Good coaches are great communicators/teachers and have analytical minds.

In that regard I try to understand why coaches make certain decisions because we’re not in the dressing room, or do we interact with the players. In saying all that I am puzzled at some of Willie’s decisions.

Right off the top, I like others, wonder about his utilization of the top scoring line which is not the Sedins (Daniel Pts/60 1.39) (Henrik Pts/60 1.52) but the Bo Horvat (Pts/60 1.79), Sven Baertschi (Pts/60 2.43), and Alex Burrows (Pts/60 1.61) line. All the Corsi and other stats point to them as being the go-to group.

Now unless Wilie is saving them for the last half of the season, why are they not getting more ice time five-on-five and on the 27th place power-play? It’s obvious that the Sedins are not the Twins of past years and thus should have their minutes reduced. Add to that, they would match up better with the other teams third line.

The match up at home is really the only place where a coach has much control  because on the road the home team has the last change. Use of the players is really strange at times, like Brandon Sutter and Markus Granlund.

Sutter is a very versatile player, no doubt about that, but does he deserve more PP playing time (TOI 124.54) then Horvat (TOI 80.09)? On the power-play, shouldn’t the duo of Horvat and Baertschi be on the first team PP?

The imagination of the PP lacks big time and one can predict that if Henrik Sedin gets the puck on the half-boards, he will try to force the puck across a zillion sticks to Daniel. A definite high percentage play that very seldom works these days. Do they really practice that play?

For far to long this team has been to stationary and the puck movement, a turtle could pick off. The only D-man that moves along the blue line is Troy Stecher, who was replaced by Alex Edler.

I can understand the reluctance to break up the Horvat line but until Hansen returns, wouldn’t Burrows be a better fit? I remember Alain Vigneault saying that lines are basically duo’s with the third player being interchangeable.

That means that the lines are really the Sedins, Horvat/Baertschi, Sutter/Granlund, and Brendan Gaunce, with any one of a number of players. The rest should be slotted in wherever.

I’ll use Vigneault as my example because he is very good coach. He never was married to a line and knew after a couple of shifts which players were having a good night and who was off. The duo’s stayed intact but the third player could end up on any one of the four lines.

The goaltending continues to baffel me. Granted Ryan Miller is currently on a roll, but just when is Jacob Markstrom suppose to play? Is Markstrom the goalie of the future or not?

Anton Rodin, will he ever be given a six to eight game stretch to see whether he can help this team? Who really is making the player decisions?  It seems to me that the main goal of this team is to make the playoffs – but why?

Does ownership think a one-and-done will pacify the fans rather than a key draft pick? Or is the two home games revenue more important?

Is the management and ownership running this team or is the coach? Willie is under enough pressure to win now, lets nor ask him to create a miracle.

In closing, I return to my original question, is Willie Desjardins the right coach for this team? I have stated my thoughts on this, now its your turn.


Should Willie Desjardins be replaced?

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Ice Bits


Five wins in their last 20 road games is not the path to a Wild Card spot. Anton Rodin and Reid Boucher will not play tonight in Philadelphia. Ryan Miller will start again tonight in goal.

Jacob Markstrom has only started two of the last eight games since Christmas.

Bo Horvat enters tonights game leading the team in scoring with 13G, 16A, and a +1. On the PP he has 1G, 4A. He also leads the team with 2 short-hand-goals.

Sven Baertschi has the best +/- with a +6, followed by Luca Sbisa +5, Nikita Tryamkin and Chris Tanev +4.

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