I believe I now understand the five on five struggles, and why they are occurring.
This problem has been there from day one, masked by the early season pp success beyond one game.
This is really the first time since 2002-03 they have not had a Jason Blake or a Richard Park/Bergenheim to carry the puck into the offensive zone. I finally figured out why so many past coaches relied on Park and kept using him on top lines, his skating/ability to move the puck over the opposing blueline helped setup the fore-check, even if his line did not score often enough it did get some offensive flow going and made the other team back up a little.
Of course Park (early Blake) could go months between goals, that's not the point, they could carry the puck to set up the other lines/or his own.
Things like this would help a Trent Hunter, Yashin, Guerin whoever get some room for their shots.
At Blake's best it helped set the offensive tempo when he was scoring, he failed in Toronto because everyone got annoyed he over-handled the puck, here it was necessary.
For all Bergenheim's flaws on his game he was usually a plus/close to even player, had puck carrying ability, and we saw the two games vs Islanders he was flying around them and driving net.
Comeau don't or cannot do it often enough to set any kind of offensive tone, Bailey's not a speed burner and what he did early did not stick for him, but that little give and go against Tampa where Comeau hit side of the net is speed/setup missing nightly.
Michael Grabner is one who can do it but not established enough to be relied on.
When Okposo was playing well and dropped the shoulder he could drive the net off left wing, I'm not sure he is the guy who can turn it on such a slow roster in transition.
Bottom line, no one can carry the mail like what they subtracted, even if those players did not score enough.
Weight, Hunter, Parenteau simply can't. Nielsen is a slow skating easy target when he tries to do it, and Tavares was not drafted for transition speed from defense to offense. Other teams simply outnumber them at five on five, collapse on them quickly and you see the lack of confidence skating the puck over offensive blueline as they keep going offsides.
Of course they are badly pressing right now, frustrated, with little team confidence.
All they do is look for Wisniewski for a shot on pp now, unless it's a five on three, even Martinek is out over Gervais now.
Plus nothing is replacing Sim's ten plus garbage goals, Jackman's six goals, Bergenheim/Park's offense, even when they were not scoring or finishing that skating got others into position to score and forced the opposition to move around drawing them out of position.
And of course both Nielsen and Hunter stuck on zero at five on five, Tavares, one?
I don't see a fix for this until they target that kind of player. Most of these players are simply slow forwards outside of Grabner.
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