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02-24-2009, 06:31 PM
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Country: Israel
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Nice post Ola, I always enjoy reading your thoughts.
This is my take on the team, and maybe more on the game in general.

Anyone who has ever played or watched hockey extensively knows that the counter attack is one of the most important facets of the game. Being able to stop an attack is half the battle, but only half the battle. Now, as you mentioned in your post, the defense alone is not able to stand up the skilled players time and time again, be it with the body, stick check etc., and I think the biggest reason for this is that the clutch and grab have been all but eliminated from the game. If you watch hockey from the pre-lockout era, defensmen (especially players like the Cullimores and such that you mentioned) were able to make up for a lack of skill, but most specifically SPEED.
Now, with this in mind, I thoroughly believe that speedy and skilled forwards are the basis to success, and here is why: If a coach is able to motivate and instill a system of backchecking, hard working forwards to assist the defense (because even the best defenders will still be hung out to dry without responsible forwards helping out), then the counter attack can be successful. The problem with players like Sjostrom is that while he has the effort and speed, and he backchecks, he is not offensively gifted enough to turn those counter attacks into goals. Don't get me wrong, I do like Sjostrom, and he has his role, but I don't think he has enough knack for the net to get the job done offensively on a consistent basis. Speedy and offensively gifted players CAN be taught to play defense (although it may not be the easiest transition), much more easily than players can be taught defense.
Anyway, that's just my rant...go Torts!

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