Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Brier: Ontario vs NL. Draw 2

This is the 5th end. Already I wonder a little bit about mystic. I'll bet that when most teams play Brad Gushue, Olympic Gold Medalist, Brad gets a few shots an end that the other guy plays because he's playing Mark Nichols and Brad Gushue, two dudes who can mash with the best of them.

However, when Gushue plays Howard (also Martin, Burtnyk, Simmons and Menard) he has to play on merit. And more and more I see him make tactical errors of judgement that his team doesn't seem to talk him out of.

In the fifth end of the second draw (available here if you didn't see it), Glenn's front end talked Rich and Glenn into a new shot. Rich made a double peel of two guards to leave this situation:

It's Gushue's first, he's yellow, he's down 3-1 and he doesn't have the hammer. He talks about a double on the front two red stones, but points out that a double would bring a blank end into play. He's right about that. So he decides to play a guard. But this is the key: he knows that the guard won't guard everything. He knows that Glenn can make hit the second red rock and slash it onto shot rock. So he wants the guard to be on the left side of center line in order to be able to make the double on his last one -- which brings the blank into play. Here's the guard with bonus arrow showing Glenn's shot:

So lets recap for a second: Brad didn't like the double because it brought the blank in play. He instead liked a guard that left a fairly easy shot for Cliffy that would leave him a double so Cliffy could blank. Glenn makes the shot and Brad tries a thin double that had he made it, would have defied the laws of physics, meaning he was resigned to giving up a deuce and the game.

Now, I would have played the double on the two reds on Brad's first. After Richie makes the double peel, you tell him good shot, you get mildly annoyed that the front end had to talk one of the most experienced back ends at the brier into a different shot and move onto the next end.

But lets say you agree with Brad that you don't want to leave Cliffy a chance at a blank. Then lets go back to the scenario on Brad's first and wonder why the team didn't come down and talk

Here's the end again:

Why not play a little split on your yellow? Remember, we're in the mindset that a blank end is bad. We want to be aggressive. You can't guard everything, so why guard? You clip yellow about 5 inches, and make sure your shooter is at least third shot. So picture the end with the yellow rock moved over so you can see the center line and another rock back four to the left a little. Glenn would most like play a little tap on the front rocks and hope he lines something up better and then you guard.

Maybe Brad's front end is scared to talk him out of shots because the last front end to do that got cut. I don't know, but I do know that this end was not well thought out by Brad. And he doesn't seem to have any help in that area.

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