I wondered how that could be, in my pre-System days. Surely having only 18 skaters instead of 20 wouldn't affect a team's performance, would it? Now I know it does. So when I get the occasional email from a coach thinking about running the System, and asking for advice, my first question is always: "How many players on your squad?"
It can be exciting to install a new style of play, but the hard truth is that there are two ways to run the System:
- Effectively, or
- At less than full strength.
We have lost three players in the past week. We might get one back soon. Or we might not. Injuries are iffy things. But we are down to 13 healthy players now, and are shuffling positions to find good combinations... not something you want to be tinkering with this time of year, especially facing the defending national champions tonight.
The good news is that it can work with 13. The players we have left know the System. The tempo is hardwired, the habits ingrained.
But if we lose just one more player...