Re: Why Not Put Horton On Trading Block
posted at 2/14/2011 9:08 AM EST
I actually think Ryder (when he's in the game. he certainly can disappear at times) does more on the ice than Horton, but it's close.
Horton seems destined to do just-not-enough-to-get-anything-done. He changes directions so slowly, his shot takes forever to get off, and he doesn't have great balance or toughness.
They both move pretty well without the puck and get into some good positions, but if I had my choice between passing to Ryder and passing to Horton, I'd pass to Ryder just about every time. At least I know he'll get a decent shot off. Ryder at least appears focused on scoring. Horton appears focused on being pretty.
Ryder's weakness is in carrying the puck up-ice and he really should do less of that. That's kind of my biggest problem with Julien. He seems to believe that you can coach every player to be like every other player, rather than embracing the things that specific players do well. Ryder doesn't carry the puck well in open ice (he's actually better at reacting in tighter situations), so his job should be to get it to a player who does carry it well, freeing Ryder to do what he does well - get open in a good position to shoot.
But when you focus on a system first, your players only have to do what the system expects in order to get playing time. The system says "a player right here with the puck should carry the puck up-ice and then try to control it along the boards". The system SHOULD say, "Ryder, if you get the puck right here, you should already know where your teammates are and you should get the puck to a teammate as soon as possible. Krejci, you are free to make those decisions in real-time. Horton, for the love of all that's holy, just dump it in."
Similarly (or conversely I guess), for all that Blake Wheeler can do in open ice, he can't do much of anything with a defender near him (plus he had another bad offside yesterday. man that is deflating), but he hasn't adjusted to this reality at all throughout the season. He gets so caught up in himself with the puck that he just puts his head down and skates straight ahead or towards the corner until a defender gets close and then he tosses an easy wrister at the net. Blake Wheeler's primary offensive role at all times should be getting the puck to a playmaker, and then going to the front of the net.
Until players start embracing their roles (voluntarily or otherwise) the team will be inconsistent. The clock is ticking.