We’ve had a lot of fun with “The System” recently, but tonight I realized something that may explain a lot. We all talk about it as a concrete being, but the great thing is that we have no idea what it really is.
To us “The System” is this vague cloud of ideas floating around in the hockey stratosphere. Get pucks deep. Simplify your game. Play smart hockey. It probably involves forechecking or something, but I’m just going off Jason Pominville’s press conferences here. We hear about “The System” all the time, but unless you are in it you have no idea if it’s being followed or not.
When you think about it that way, Lindy Ruff is a genius. Think about it, because none of us really know what “The System” entails, it can’t ever be to blame for anything. Complete surrender to “The System” means a win every time because in theory it is perfect. Following an unknown set of rules equals flawless hockey, and so those rules can never, ever be wrong.
So when things go bad, it’s never about “The System” itself but rather someone not playing within it. Perhaps the players forgot about the supreme guidance “The System” provides, or maybe someone lost focus and got away from it briefly. That’s not “The System” breaking down, that’s a player breaking down. “The System” doesn’t break down, oh no, “The System” is forgotten by players not willing to sell out to it and win. “The System” in its purest sense is victory, and any failure to win is an ignorance of it that is in effect a disgrace to “The System” itself.
With all that said, let’s not talk about “The System” anymore. It obviously has no flaws, and if the players can’t live up to “The System”, we just need to find new players. Preferably robots who can focus on the multitude of rules and advice it offers for a full sixty minutes. Instead of talking about “The System” let’s talk about another fun buzz word we throw around often: defensive responsibility.
Seriously, where the hell did that go? No team plays perfect hockey, but when it all goes to hell in the last 15 minutes of a game something’s wrong. The great news is they doubled their offensive output, but that about does it in the good news category. You could say that playing with the lead for 45 minutes is good as well, but the last 15 sucked so hard it’s hard to imagine they played all that well to begin with.
Forget systematic rules of engagement, what happened to the rules you learned in pee wee? When one of the Staals is free in the middle of a Sabres triangle, someone should probably pick him up. Also, Ruslan Fedotenko should NOT have been an option on the fourth goal. Did anyone feel like backchecking there? Jaro played it right, there were two options for Malkin: shoot or pass to Crosby. Spacek had both covered, but because Fedotenko felt like skating that third option was there to put the game out of reach. At worst that third option should be a lifted stick, and at best it should be an ass over tea kettle Fedotenko.
The players can say all they want about how they played a good 50 minutes of hockey. That six minutes of suck kills anything good you can take from this game. Maybe the problem is the good things you take from a game like this. It’s yet another wasted weekend for the Buffalo Sabres, and they’ve got two more like this before the month is over.
They better figure this “System” out soon, or we might be heading down fast. They have until Wednesday to figure it out, but somehow it’s that next Friday I’m worried about.