Every single NHL.COM notification I've received on my phone in the last week and a half I've prayed for the headline to read "Buffalo Sabres release Ralph Krueger from his head coaching duties".
Now let's digress for a second and really analyze how exactly we've gotten to this point. The Sabres (with last games loss to the Penguins) fall to a pitiful 6-15-4 record.
But that's far from what has enraged myself and many, MANY other diehard fans alike. It's the BRUTAL decisions like - rolling out Casey Mittlestadt for your second shooter when your down 2-0 in shootouts trying to get your first win in the last 8. This decision coming after a 2g night from Sam Reinhart's efforts with Jack Eichel out of the lineup with an upper body injury. Clearly you should be riding the hot stick of 23 , cause he's obviously feeling it!
To be clear , this is not a shot across the bow of Casey Mittlestadt as he has looked far better this year.
Ralph's pure and obvious hatred for Jeff skinner will not be ranted about here today as it's in the "beating a dead horse" column; but for what it's worth , I'm appalled with how a head coach has alienated a player SO badly.
The next point I HAVE to make is Ralph's line deployment and his system. Now before I completely S**t all over this gentleman, I have to give him some sort of credit for what it's worth. So I'll say that his "stick to it" mentality is somewhat admirable, even though it's wrong. You got to hand it to someone who has made a plan and is sticking too it without sway….. I just wish it was a decent strategy.
I'm not breaking news glass here when I say STOP PLAYING THE FAILED REINCARNATION OF THE LOG LINE!!. They are getting demolished each and every night. I'm of course referring to Okposo line of Reider-Eakin-Okposo. Seriously feeling bad for Reider here. He has proven to exceed at least my expectations by being a reliable penalty killer player. I do recognize that's literally why he was brought to Buffalo but I didn't give enough credit to him prior to his arrival. The rest of his linemates however have been atrocious to say the least. Okposo-in the incredibly off chance you read this- buddy I have a tremendous amount of respect and empathy regarding the injuries you've had to endure, but seriously man take up coaching or something and hang up your skates. Cody Eakin has been almost exactly what the analytical people predicted, and that's not good news . This line alone is just a pure anchor in an already nightly questioned lineup, and his reluctance to break it up is a giant thorn in any die hard fans side.
Now I completely understand this is already a terribly long read , but I got to run with this rant for a second because this just boils me to no end and Ultimately the biggest reason I pray the his head coaching career to head to somewhere like Washington (lol) . He has SO much offensive talent on his roster its ridiculous, and yet his stubbornness mandates a defensive system. I will break this into several key players to make my point abundantly clear:
Rasmus Dahlin - once considered the McDavid of defenseman has essentially been castrated. This puck handling phenom has been reduced to a dump a Chase style system that fails to maximize what he NATURALLY excels at. He is a play driving defenceman that is being SMOTHERED. You have been given the keys to a lambo and determined to drive 5 mph below the speed limit. LET THIS BOY DO WHAT HE DOES BEST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!
Sam Reinhart - thankfully Sam has found some measure of success within Ralph's system, but I feel on any offensive driven system we would see Sam reach at least William Nylander levels if not exceed them. Sam has proven this year he doesn't need Jack holding his hand to get the job done , imagine if he played with say - the Leafs which are a high octane type team.
Jack Eichel - what more does this guy need to do!!! I have never felt soo bad for a hockey player making the income he does IN MY LIFE. I'm sure ralph is a nice guy and all , but im sure in their introductory meeting pre hire ralph never told Jack "I wanna play a shutdown system". Jack is far too gifted for that system and he deserves way better.
Taylor hall- the former hart trophy winner is a natural scorer. He has not been known for his defensive qualities. He is an extremely talented offensive threat that requires time in the o-zone. If he's utilized properly, I think we could see a much closer resemblance of hall's past than that's currently on display today.
Victor Olofsson - this one trick pony has a shot that rivals Ovechkin. Beyond that he's rather lost…. So he demands offensive time … why the heck are we utilizing a shut down system again ?
Dylan cozens- this "kid" has met expectations and exceeded them . He has hands that are silky smooth and has no where near reached his ceiling which should excite fans for years to come! However he also doesn't belong in a defensive based system . Although he's growing into a solid two way player , his offensive impacts definitely shouldn't be dimmed within a defensive system . Let our little bird soar!
So based on what you have read above , I have made several good points illustrating Krueger failure to adapt to players natural talents and instead he's forced his play style and its not working.
Sorry Ralph but nice guys finish last and your no exception to the rule sir.