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-   -   Entertaining Hockey versus Winning Hockey (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=27895)

Mike8 11-13-2003 10:18 AM

Entertaining Hockey versus Winning Hockey
 
Since we generally make the assumption that these are mutually exclusive, let's roll with that.

It's long been hinted the Habs should stick to defensive hockey if they want to win, but we've never had a discussion. Which is better for the Canadiens: entertaining, end-to-end hockey, or trap hockey?

If we take a look at longtime supporters of entertaining hockey in Edmonton, they've consistently overachieved. The management there promotes stability among the coaching staff. They're young, fast, physical, fight for eachother, and get the most out of their players. Heck, a player like Cross who looked like an AHL calibre player his entire career looks like a legit NHLer on that team. Same goes for Staios, Bergeron, Reasoner, among a boat load of others.

The team seems tightly knit. Much like we've heard the glorious Habs of the past were. Much like we heard the Oilers' dynasty of the '80s was.

Listening to the Oilers' players over the years responding to why they feel the team overachieves and poses such a threat in the playoffs, they've always mentioned how much they enjoy playing in Edmonton. The great ice, the team chemistry, the free-flowing system. It's a fun game, and they despise playing teams that play the trap because it's so boring.

Is it possible that some of Montreal's players are lethargic because they're playing a system that doesn't suit their skills? That we see apathy from some of the prospects like Markov, Hainsey, occasionally Hossa, among others because they're stuck trying to learn a system that won't let them play how they like to play? I remember reading an interview with Markov where he said he loved playing hockey with highly skilled players, and that's what he played for (I would imagine the cash would have some influence too, though).

I'm wondering this because you see the Oilers draft players with all sorts of flaws in their games, and yet they put it together in Edmonton so well, and so quickly.

If Montreal is committed to the youth--as I believe they are--then perhaps the way to go would be opening up the system, and playing some exciting, fast-paced hockey, taking advantage of the many highly skilled youth in the system and developing it further.

I can't imagine practicing and playing a system relying solely on specifics and turning skilled youths into 'drones' would do much good in developing offensive flair and talent. Nor would it create the team unity and chemistry that few teams in the league seem to have these days.

Just thinking out loud here...

Jeffrey 11-13-2003 10:32 AM

winning hockey !

Habber 11-13-2003 10:50 AM

I don't think that team unity/morale or the development of youth is tied to the brand of hockey a team plays.

Look at Minnesota, they play trap hockey yet I'll bet you couldn't find a single one of them to complain about it after their playoff run. They have also done an excellent job developing youth (Gaborik, Schultz, Dupuis) and have guys thought to be career minor leaguers playing well (hello Wes Walz).

Ottawa would be another. They play trap hockey yet have amazing team unity and great success developing players.

I would like to see a system where our guys forecheck harder and are given a little more freedom in the offensive end as long as they come back hard. But when you have guys like Audette and Perrault in the top six it's really impossible as they aren't the forechecking or coming back hard type.

gunnerdom 11-13-2003 10:55 AM

Still it makes my eyes misty when I think back about how the 80s were great for hockey... so fun to watch.

mcphee 11-13-2003 11:02 AM

Mike, the hockey I've watched this year makes 24 and Survivor a viable option. when the team sags when they go down 1-0, you know you're in for a long year. if a team is to have an identity, like the Oilers, they look to draft players who can play their up tempo style. I think that is the long range goal here, but who knows. Our problem is time, and our reluctance to recognize it. I tend to believe that BG and CJ must have discussed the ammount of time that will be given to our last year of contract gang. I hope that this time is coming to an end, but it's not my money. You really can't introduce a new organizationa; philosophy at the top level, with the likes of Audette,Juneau,Dackell, and Perreault still up front. I also don't fault Gillette, for not tearing up 10-12 M worth of contracts.

Getting back to your original point, I can't help wondering what the Oilers have accomplished with their style. I realize that finance comes into play, but worse teams have gone farther. i guess the key to the best style is balance, smart hard working adaptable players.

habsfan19 11-13-2003 11:09 AM

if we keep getting games like tuesday's sleeper vs Jackets, I'll cancel RDS to save $$

I'd rather watch an entertaining hockey game, like last week, there was a Bruins-Sharks game which ended 5-5 i think on TSN, very good game
compare that to 1-1 tuesday, big difference

i think the Habs should open it up and see what happens, what have we got to lose???? it's not like we're going to win the cup this year or in the near future

Darz 11-13-2003 11:10 AM

I think as of right down we need to play the style we are playing to be competitive. The current team would get slaughtered nightly if they played a run and gun style. We simply don't have the fire power or team speed to do that. In a few years this might change, but as youngsters come up they should first learn the defensive aspects of the game and then if they show the promise of a team that can compete playing an Edmonton type style than I say we go for it.
What I don't understand is why the entire team has to play the same system. Why can one or two lines play a more open style game, while the other two lines play more of a trapping style. The defenseman could be told to adjust as need be.

Vasculio 11-13-2003 11:19 AM

I personnaly prefer an entertaining brand of hockey. I don't care at all about losing or winning, I just want to watch good hockey, and it sickens me to see what they're doing right now to the game. Defensive hockey systems are plain dull, cause they want the players to act like some kind of robot. It pumps the desire to have fun out of 'em.

The problem is money. Someone that invests alot in a player don't want to have this money washed away. So they want to win, at all cost, and here comes the defensive brand of hockey, because they limit scoring chances for the other team. And the players that are paid these sums are now so greedy. With cash comes luxury. Luxury soften. As a result, they don't try as hard, they don't have the same determination, and of course they don't want to be hurt. That's, of course, IMHO.

The problem is money. Simple.

Now what could be done to change that? That could be another thread.

gohabsgo2010 11-13-2003 11:19 AM

As Darz said, we don't have the players to play a run and gun style -- yet.

Even though I was not nearly old enough to be around during the glory days of hockey - the 60's and 70's - I've seen plenty of old tape and footage. Nothing beats watching that stuff.

Does anyone remember the game, last December, where we ended up losing 7-6 to Colorado? If we played every game like that I would be too impressed. Even if the Habs do play a trap-type system, we don't have a good enough team to go anywhere after April, anyways. Okay, okay, so we have more "pure" talent on the roster than a team like Minnesota (than again, maybe not), but the players wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge do not seem to possess the unity, comradery, work ethic, or spirit that the Minnesota Wild do.

If we are going to lose over half of our games playing a boring, lifeless brand of hockey, I say why not play an upbeat, non stop system that would see us notch 35 shots a night. Do you think guys like Zednik, Hainsey, and Koivu would not thrive playing a "run and gun" game night in, night out.

Again, if we're going to trap our way to 35 losses, why not skate full out on our way to 40, at least until our talent level is slighty higher.

HABitude 11-13-2003 11:58 AM

I admit we don't have the players to play a fast game right now.
By I'm worry about a system that will slow down any offensive talent from our talented prospects. My nightmare would be to watch Katsystsin, Perezhogin and Higgins in 2 years play a “Dackell-type-of-game” when they have the skills to be the next Bondra, Sykora and Marian Hossa.

The boring and relatively safe system of CJ is acceptable for right now but when pure talent and speed will be here, I hope CJ will find a way to make the talent expressed.

As Mcphee said, it's looks like it will be a long long long year.

SuperUnknown 11-13-2003 12:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by habsfan19
if we keep getting games like tuesday's sleeper vs Jackets, I'll cancel RDS to save $$

I'd rather watch an entertaining hockey game, like last week, there was a Bruins-Sharks game which ended 5-5 i think on TSN, very good game
compare that to 1-1 tuesday, big difference

Yeah it's sad, but I find myself zapping to the games shown on TSN or Sportsnet which are very often more interesting than Montreal games. I almost never find other games less exciting than Montreal's games, even though I'm a Montreal Canadiens fan... At least when we were getting peppered there was the excitement of watching the goaltender make the big saves. Now even that is gone...

KOMO_ROCKS 11-13-2003 12:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darz
I think as of right down we need to play the style we are playing to be competitive. The current team would get slaughtered nightly if they played a run and gun style. We simply don't have the fire power or team speed to do that. In a few years this might change, but as youngsters come up they should first learn the defensive aspects of the game and then if they show the promise of a team that can compete playing an Edmonton type style than I say we go for it.
What I don't understand is why the entire team has to play the same system. Why can one or two lines play a more open style game, while the other two lines play more of a trapping style. The defenseman could be told to adjust as need be.

Good points.......just look at Gaborik and the success of the Wild last season in the playoffs...he did not really play the trap, but she sure dominated offensively. Simply put, we dont have a player close to his skill level. Our first line(being experimented now) needs to be creative .....but them playing the trap will not really help offensively...New Jersey and their first line is a prime example of that this season

Habber 11-13-2003 12:41 PM

At least there's a glimmer of hope for next season. I think we would all love to see the Habs play a fast, up-tempo game but it ain't gonna happen with the likes of Audette, Perrault, Juneau and Dackell in the lineup. But imagine having Higgins, Perezhogin, Pleks, and Katsy in the lineup as well as the guys like Ryder, Hossa, Bulis, Zed and Begin. The present sucks but hopefully the future is bright.

SuperUnknown 11-13-2003 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KOMO_ROCKS
Good points.......just look at Gaborik and the success of the Wild last season in the playoffs...he did not really play the trap, but she sure dominated offensively.

SHE? :eek:

Tell us what you know that we don't! :joker:

KOMO_ROCKS 11-13-2003 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smail
SHE? :eek:

Tell us what you know that we don't! :joker:

OOPS :eek:

She is Gabby's reflection on the ice :yo:

Mike8 11-13-2003 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Habber
Look at Minnesota, they play trap hockey yet I'll bet you couldn't find a single one of them to complain about it after their playoff run. They have also done an excellent job developing youth (Gaborik, Schultz, Dupuis) and have guys thought to be career minor leaguers playing well (hello Wes Walz).

The difference with Minnesota is they are an old team. Only Schultz has really been a surprise youth there that's come through. Most of the 'unknown' players that are assumed to be young are generally in their late 20s and early 30s, coming off of AHL careers. Brandner, one of their "rookies" this season, is another older player from the Czech league. They've built their team extremely well, but it is a team of role playing veterans; not youth.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Habber
Ottawa would be another. They play trap hockey yet have amazing team unity and great success developing players.

I would disagree on the team unity. I don't think it's that strong. At least not compared to a team like Edmonton. Ottawa does not look like a cohesive unit in the playoffs (not that they're *not* cohesive, just that they don't strike me as being any more cohesive than any other group).

With Edmonton, each player plays with such passion, dedication, and fire. It's unparalleled in the NHL, in my opinion. Everyone is dimensional. Players like Koivu, Recchi, Ward have this fire... I'd like to see it from everyone.

Mike8 11-13-2003 01:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mcphee
Mike, the hockey I've watched this year makes 24 and Survivor a viable option. when the team sags when they go down 1-0, you know you're in for a long year. if a team is to have an identity, like the Oilers, they look to draft players who can play their up tempo style. I think that is the long range goal here, but who knows. Our problem is time, and our reluctance to recognize it. I tend to believe that BG and CJ must have discussed the ammount of time that will be given to our last year of contract gang. I hope that this time is coming to an end, but it's not my money. You really can't introduce a new organizationa; philosophy at the top level, with the likes of Audette,Juneau,Dackell, and Perreault still up front. I also don't fault Gillette, for not tearing up 10-12 M worth of contracts.

Getting back to your original point, I can't help wondering what the Oilers have accomplished with their style. I realize that finance comes into play, but worse teams have gone farther. i guess the key to the best style is balance, smart hard working adaptable players.

You make a good point regarding needing to find an identity and how difficult that is with the "last contract gang."

The issue I'm wondering about is: how does Edmonton do it? I would wager if Perreault went to Edmonton, they'd miraculously find a way to use him and use him well. Maybe the only other organization in the NHL that could do this is NJ, and that's because their management is exceptional.

A case like Cory Cross going to Edmonton and becoming anything but a pylon is an absolute mystery to me. This is a guy that was lanky, non-physical, slow, immobile defenseman along the lines of Traverse, who's now decent in EDM. There's plenty of other cases like him. And Edmonton manages to pick out players like Torres, Hemsky, Stoll, and make them valuable commodities in a short amount of time.

I feel Montreal could learn a lot from Edmonton. There's 6 NHL ready youngsters in Montreal right now by my count (Ryder, Higgins, Plekanec, Hainsey, Komisarek, and Hossa), and *none* of them have had a steady spot in the lineup.

When you look at Edmonton, you see Hemsky played next to Moreau all season until he started looking more NHL ready and played on the first line. Torres has been placed in a role where not much offense is expected of him and he's told to go to the net and wreak havoc; he has, and he's excelled.

This hasn't happened in Montreal, and it's beginning to be time to worry that these prospects are not being developed as they should IMO. Or am I just becoming too impatient? :)

Guy! 11-13-2003 01:11 PM

I honestly don't think the two forms of hockey are mutually exclusive. Certainly winning teams, particularly Ottawa and New Jersey play a type of game which is counter-attack based, meaning they trap and then attack in a flurry. For me, that's quite entertaining hockey.

When I was growing up, I guess I was in the minority when I say I appreciated a 1-0 game that was defensively well-played against a group of attackers who knew how to move the puck and create. Nowadays, the trap is in place to reduce the effectiveness of teams with higher quality players, and those teams that trap, in general, are ones who cannot counter-attack at will. They rely instead on opponents making mistakes. Plays off the boards and icing calls are there form of strong defence rather than quick break-out passes and strong stickhandling skills. Who on the Wild, other than Gaborik, could skate out of his own end with the puck?

Montreal right now just doesn't have the skills in the back end to play that style of game. I'm not sure why this statement is so frequently overlooked, but 'offence stems from great defence'. If the Habs trapped, then were able to counter with strong play from the back to slick and skilled forwards up front, it would be just as entertaining, in my opinion, as the wide open contests out west. In fact, I'd prefer to watch that style because you can say that the Habs have a defence where the Oil perhaps does not.

Look at the dynasty from the 70's. Everyone said it was freewheeling, but they were also able to defend. The 'Big Three' were so-named because they were just that: the big three on defence who were stellar at what they did. I'll take watching that dynasty to watching the Oil dynasty of the 80's anyday. That Oil club had a wicked offence, but couldn't stop a beach ball from getting in their net. Fuhr had to be the most overrated goaltender on the planet - shot to his crest and he dives and rolls about like a fish out of water to make the save look good. I mean, come on! 7-6 isn't a good hockey score, it's a football game gone bad.

The Habs, I believe it has to be said, are in a transition period. Gainey doesn't want to see his team trapping and relying on opponents mistakes in order to score goals. His team in Dallas wasn't even close to that, why would anyone think he'd try anything different here when his team in Dallas won a Cup? We're in the process of developping both defenders who can defend and move the puck, as well as a group of forwards who are able to attack instead of just defend and pray.

On the other hand who here isn't pleased when the Habs have won games this very year by low scores? I see after games constant messages about how well they played defensively and how it was a pleasure to watch them succeed in a strong defensive game. Winning is entertainment 99% of the time. Sure, it's not 'leave your seat and jump up and down' entertainment, but you get to see a team succeed at doing what it set out to do - and there's a lot to be said for that kind of game.

Personally, I don't mind watching the Habs lose this year either. In fact, there are some games that I've found very entertaining despite the loss because you can see some of the future in development, or you can see some of the plays that are worthy of those 70's teams. It may not happen for 60 minutes, but it's there if you look.

If you want to see that counter-attack hockey, you're probably going to be waiting for at least another two years in Montreal. Rome wasn't built in a day and the Habs are going to take longer than Rome. Patience is the catchword when watching the Habs.

I still find each and every game entertaining to watch; perhaps not on a whole, but some of the individual plays and small moments in the game that are worthy of a 70's dynasty game. They are, granted, few and far between these days, but they're there, and the filler isn't so hard to take either.

Entertaining vs. winning? To me hockey is entertaining. Take the worst game out there and compare it to watching football where people are standing most of the time; or baseball where you don't even have to be an athlete to succeed (Boomer Wells); or Nascar where you watch a car go round and round and round and rounzzzzzzzzzzz.

But then, the problem with this kind of question is not in entertainment versus winning, it's more in what each individual takes from the game. I can't stand 7-6 games, because it means both teams couldn't play defence to save their lives, and I like defence. On the other hand, many of you would fall asleep at 1-0 affairs where's defence is the strong suit and goalies are making the saves.

Just my thoughts.

A concerned fan.

Habs 11-13-2003 01:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike8
I feel Montreal could learn a lot from Edmonton. There's 6 NHL ready youngsters in Montreal right now by my count (Ryder, Higgins, Plekanec, Hainsey, Komisarek, and Hossa), and *none* of them have had a steady spot in the lineup.

When you look at Edmonton, you see Hemsky played next to Moreau all season until he started looking more NHL ready and played on the first line. Torres has been placed in a role where not much offense is expected of him and he's told to go to the net and wreak havoc; he has, and he's excelled.

Edmonton builds their club around skating, and usually draft accordingly. Montreal used to do this as well, but haven't drafted like this for a few years.

Sigh... remember when Hab fans were yelling to get Torres...


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