Craig Ramsay admits to a mistake.
When hired as coach of the Thrashers, Ramsay came with a set of objectives. No. 1 was to play with a ‘Go’ mentality. No. 2 was to teach his players to be better without the puck. He achieved the first objective early in the season – which led to stretch of games where the Thrashers won 10 of 12 games. The coach now says he might have moved too quickly to his second objective at the expense of the first – which has led to a run of just five wins in the past 21 games.
“What we tried to do was be better without the puck,” Ramsay said. “We tried to go over those kinds of things. It didn’t work very well. I truly believe now the last few games we have taken some pressure off our people by saying we just want you to get going. Let’s get going again. Let’s get up the ice. Even though we were, let’s say slightly shorthanded, we just wanted to pick up the pace. It’s been much better. We haven’t had the results that I think we could have gotten but the shot totals are back up. The up-ice pressure is back. We’ve had more shots from the blue line because we won more battles in the offensive zone. We’ve done a lot of things better because the pace has been better.”
One of the beneficiaries of the return to the up-tempo pace has been Zach Bogosian, according to Ramsay. The defenseman was the subject of trade rumors Tuesday. Reports even said his relationship with associate coach John Torchetti was strained.
Bogosian said Wednesday he did not know where such reports came from.
Ramsay did acknowledge “misunderstandings” between player and coach but said any issues have been resolved.
“When Zach goes, he’s effective,” Ramsay said. “He can be a problem for the opposition. Does that lead to some errors? Yes it does. It will. The coaches’ job, sometimes, is to just suck it up and shut up. It’s difficult because sometimes I like talking too much. Sometimes you have to say ‘It’s OK. Just go.’ Yes then gently a day later you will go over it. … I don’t think that John is mean to him. I don’t think he’s overly vocal to him. I think John is just trying to do what’s best for Zach and for everyone. I trust John to pass on the appropriate information in the appropriate way. I think misunderstandings occurred. They have been dealt with and I see nothing but good things.
“Zach didn’t quite understand all of the coaching things that were going on. It wasn’t just Zach but it suddenly came up. Zach wants to be a good player. I think Zach has stepped up. All I think about is the last two games and I think he’s been pretty good. He’s been effective. In Toronto, I think especially so. He skated up for pucks. He skated back for pucks. He shot from the point. He made a great pass on one goal. I see nothing but good things for Zach.”
Bogosian, 20, was a healthy scratch for three games before the injury to Tobias Enstrom. In Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Carolina, Bogosian scored with 1:24 remaining to force overtime. He assisted on Dustin Byfuglien’s power-play goal in Monday’s 5-4 loss to Toronto.
“My thoughts are pretty simple,” Ramsay said. “The last game was Toronto and Zach was busier than he’s been, probably all year. He skated with the puck. He took some shots. He got a couple of points. He was as effective as he’s been all season. I like that. There were times in the Carolina game when he looked like a difference maker. He showed the speed. He wanted the puck. We heard him yell for it. My focus is pretty short anyway, but the last two games I’ve been very pleased with Zach. I think he understands, I hope he understands, I believe he understands that we are only here to make him better. That’s our only thought. We don’t show him mistakes because we want him to be a bad player. We want him to understand how small the differences can be that will prevent those errors and will allow him to have some fun.
“Today in our last [practice] drill, it’s a continuous scoring drill, I said beforehand that I want the guy that hits the line to go and shoot. He grabbed the puck and I said to the defense if [the forwards] are not passing it to you, carry it all the way up yourself. He did. He carried it all the way up. He took a slapper. It was hard at the goalie and he skated by and said ‘Like that?’ I like that. I like that a lot.”