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NHL's greatest defensive groups did it a method, the Oilers one other. Ought to Edmonton change?

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The Nationwide Hockey League’s greatest defensive groups, Boston within the common season and Stanley Cup-winning Las Vegas within the playoffs, performed the identical system of defensive hockey, a zone defence, with the 2 defencemen at all times hanging round their very own web.

Ought to the Edmonton Oilers — which performed a hybrid system however went man-to-man in entrance of their very own web — take into account doing the identical?

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Oilers asst. coach Glen Gulutzan gave a seminar on defensive methods within the NHL at a training convention this offseason. He defined the three methods of play now seen within the NHL: zone, man-to-man and the swarm. That speak can now be discovered at The Coaches Web site.

Gulutzan made it clear he’s OK with taking concepts from different coaches and adapting them to his groups.

The perfect coaches are thieves, he stated. “I at all times inform my gamers, ‘I haven’t had an authentic concept in about 20 years.’ ”

With the swarm defence, defenders are extra aggressive alongside the boards. As quickly because the puck provider is engaged in battle by a defender, one other defender will cost in to attempt to win the puck. Swarming groups will ship one, two or three additional gamers in to win the puck. “They’re making an attempt to group break it out,” Gulutzan stated.

It’s an aggressive technique, however Gulutzan famous when it breaks down it results in a Grade A pictures in opposition to, one thing Oilers followers will recall from the Dallas Eakins period, when that coach tried unsuccessfully to put in a swarm defence in Edmonton.

In a zone defence, the 2 d-men keep close to their web and on their very own sides of the ice. When a puck provider swoops across the web and again in direction of the blueline, the d-men don’t go along with him, they keep put and let the centre cowl the attacker.

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“The system with Boston and Las Vegas is that they nearly marry two ‘D’ to the web,” Gulutzan stated. “Something that comes excessive will get handed off to the centre.”

The zone offers up area and time to attackers, Gulutzan stated. “You’re sacrificing area and time however you’re by no means outnumbered at your web.”

This method works if a crew has giant d-men who like to dam pictures, he famous.

But it surely’s not the one system that works, Gulutzan stated. Tampa Bay received two Stanley Cups taking part in man-to-man defence, the place gamers have a tendency to stay with their man wherever they go.

The important thing for a crew on defence?

“It’s actually the execution of the system, not the system itself,” Gulutzan stated. “It’s what you like, what gamers you will have.

“Know who your gamers are. Know what your D is like. Do you will have that cerebral centre? Do you will have large robust centres? Perhaps with cerebral centres you play extra of a zone. They’re extra free to wheel, extra free to select off passes. They’ll learn the sport fairly good. You bought nice large D like Vegas, that city the cup, they’ll block pictures. You bought smaller D, perhaps it’s extra man-on-man, higher toes, faster, faster to shut. That’s as much as you. Nobody system goes to win all of it. We all know that by wanting on the NHL.”

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My take

1. I’ve already written quite a few posts arguing that the Oilers coaches ought to undertake the Vegas/Boston system. Boston crushed it within the common season and Vegas was a defensive brute within the playoffs. Edmonton? They had been mediocre on defence all yr and did not shut down the Vegas assault in key moments of the playoffs. Regardless of the Oilers had been doing must be open to overview and to alter as a result of it was damaged within the playoffs. It wants fixing.

2. Based mostly alone statement, I see the Oilers personnel as greatest suited to a zone. It’s not like Edmonton has small d-men. Darnell Nurse, Mattias Ekholm, Vincent Desharnais, Cody Ceci, Philip Broberg, Evan Bouchard and Brett Kulak all have good dimension. They may put up a fierce wall of resistance in entrance of the Edmonton web. I additionally suppose they’re far simpler there than they’re chasing attacking gamers out in direction of the blueline, the place they have an inclination to get beat in open ice, then discover that their teammates have did not cowl for them in entrance of the Oilers web.

Edmonton will profit from a less complicated zone system, one the place the d-men guard the web entrance, the wingers the excessive slot and level, and the centres maintain gamers wheeling across the outer slot with the puck.

It’s a great time for Edmonton’s coaches to make out like bandits right here and usher in a system that can benefit from what Edmonton’s gamers are geared up to do on defence.

Make sense? Agree or disagree?

On the Cult of Hockey

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