TAMPA, FL – An avalanche to the Stanley Cup Final brought all kinds of Denver-area coaches, executives and athletes into the ring, from Michael Mallon and John Elway taking front row seats behind goal to Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett accelerating the crowd when viewed on the video board.
Avalanche also has fans on its Arkansas men’s basketball coaching staff.
Led by coach Eric Muselman, the staff has spent time during their past season watching video of Avalanche, who plays Tampa Bay in Game Three of the Final on Monday night.
After winning Game One last week, Muselman tweeted about the avalanche and explained why watching Nathan McKinnon, Cal McCarn & Co. is on his team’s to-do list.
“For us, we love studying how closely they relate as a team,” Mosselman wrote in an email to the Denver Post. “To play at that speed and the way they work, they have to be connected. The players on the ice are connected and the seat starts playing to see when it’s time to fall.
“We talk to our team all the time about staying in touch. We also talk about staying ready on the bench when your chance comes. An avalanche might summon someone for 30 seconds, but they are ready.”
Mosselman, a former NBA coach with Golden State and Sacramento, coached the Razorbacks for three years. Last season, Hogs beat the 1-5 stretch to pass the non-conference end and start playing SEC to finish 28-9 and reach the Elite Eight (losing to Duke) for the second year in a row.
Purchasing and preparing is a requirement in Arkansas. Eight players averaged at least 10 minutes per game, and eight players started at least four games.
So what are coaches watching?
“On the offensive level, we studied the pace of play and how fast he was relentlessly,” Mosselmann said. “The constant pressure that avalanche puts on the defense will be pretty much like our team pushing the ball and not wanting to play in half-court groups, but to play an attack transition opportunity.
“They’re constantly pushing the disc. We call it, ‘No Walking’. The ball doesn’t walk on the ground. Defensively, it looks like an avalanche is putting constant pressure on the ball, line (goal) to line (goal).”
Hockey only allows one timeout, so teams have to play through adversity within the game, sometimes without much time to pause play or media timeouts. Basketball is obviously different in this respect, but Mosselman noticed how the Avs play their way out of tricky stretches.
“It’s amazing to see how they go from attack to defense and[change their lines]without a deadline,” Muselman said. “They don’t stop to call a play and reset. That goes back to being connected at all times.”
Mosselman made notes on how well an avalanche predicted plays and how it uses its breakneck speed to an advantage.
“They’re thinking of three passes forward and not just at the moment – maybe they do a pass that leads to a good pass after that with three passes,” he said. “They don’t care who gets the glory. They just want to win
“The speed at which Avalanche plays is unbelievable. It puts a lot of pressure on the other teams where altitude plays in this way. They know the identity of their team is to play fast and take advantage of that at home and on the road.”