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Quarter-final shot attainable for Timmins Rock

Mully says a lot of fans are cheering the team on from afar
A file photo of the Timmins Rock playing in the NOJHL playoffs.

A former member of my coaching staff and I were discussing a tactic we both observed the Florida Panthers using with great success these playoffs. The flip. They are sneaky good at it. They not only use it to clear the zone when they are in trouble but they use it as an offensive tactic.

Coming through the neutral zone they love to chip it over the D's heads in deep. They are coming like a brakeless freight train to grab pucks that they know where they will land. In the meantime, a beleaguered D has to turn and try to guess where that puck will land. Even if they guess right, they have no time to get control before getting pasted by the human ICBM flying in. They will even flip it off to the side boards in the neutral zone to beat D or get body position and puck control. It ain’t pretty, but oh so effective.

So why don't more teams use it? A lack of practice and the patience to do so are foremost. An example, back with the Majors we had a hulking D-man I hoped would make the team. But he had a high rate of turnovers on our end that I thought he could overcome playing with an affiliate. We talked about using his size to eat pucks on the wall and effectively develop the skills of getting the puck out clean. So after a season of dedicated work to improve upon those skills, he shows up for camp and we immediately know he will grab a spot on the team. He not only was vastly improved but he had developed a fluid and quick flip out for when pressured with no passing lanes open. His passing skills were now very good and he could supplement that by having a tactic to clear the zone when in danger. He became a primary penalty killer with his combination of hard shootouts and lofty flips.

Back to the practice part. You know hockey players at all levels don't want to spend a lot of time practicing such a boring (to them) skill. All players can flip a puck, like when you are in close to the net or the goalie is down. But high, hard and far-flung flips need regular practice to be effective. Players would rather spend time practicing one-timers, slap shots and toe drags than the flip. Forgetting that the simple flip might mean more time in the offensive zone where you can use those other skills more often. 

Just have a look at how well Florida does use the flip in their next game.

The paragraph above was originally written as part of last week's column. Unfortunately, the column did not make it in time for print (my fault) but I still wanted to get the "Florida Flip" tactic in.

A short time ago Toronto was planning a parade. In the last few days, they are planning tar and feather rallies and a dismantling of the team.

Should provide for a summer of drama and speculation for a frustrated fan base.

One distinct difference between the Leafs and Oilers post-elimination feedback from the players. 

Oilers stars, "I was brutal and accept my role in our failure."

"This was a wasted season as far as what we wanted to achieve and a total disappointment"

Leafs stars, "We were so close!"  

"We just needed a few breaks" 

"Well we did finally make it out of round one." (SIC)

It's why the Oilers will get to the final before Toronto does. Just sayin'.

After a slow start against Sherbrooke, Evan Boucher and his Halifax teammates roared back and beat Sherbrooke after being down two games to none. In the QMJHL final, the Mooseheads find themselves down 2-1 to Quebec. After getting a split in Quebec, the Moose lost an overtime thriller at home last night. (Watched by many locals live on TSN.)  I hope we get to see a few more national broadcasts as the two teams battle for a spot in the 2023 Memorial Cup.

Big game today for the Rock. Pretty much a "win and you in" scenario for the locals against Ottawa. A quarter-final shot is attainable for Timmins. There will be a ton of locals cheering the club from afar.

Well after a years-long battle to make NHL hockey relevant in the desert, Tempe Arizona voters voted no to a new arena for the Coyotes. Can't see a way the team and the NHL can make it work there now.

Would be nice to see a relocation to Quebec, but I doubt the league will add to the east while subtracting from the west. So unless there is some kind of league expansion soon it might be "Hello Houston."

Loyal readers already know how I feel about the constant barrage of sports betting promotion and advertising. 

But I would like to know how big a bath sports betting places have taken in the last few weeks. With Florida, Dallas, Carolina and Vegas in the final four and Boston, New York, Colorado, etc, dispatched early, you know payouts were bigger than what the house brought in. I feel sooooo bad.

May Run this weekend. Stay safe, especially on the roads and water, and have a blast.

Later skater.

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