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05-03-2011, 11:48 PM
  #70
hfboardsuser
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After this series, Boucher's system is going to be all the rage (not that it's anything earth-shattering). As an outsider, I've seen this movie before, and the Minnesota Wild did it for years under Lemaire who got the most out of a relatively weak roster. The difference? The Lightning have just a couple more horses than the Wild ever did.

So how you build a team to break the 1-3-1? Speed. Whatever BB is doing has to thrown out the window; say what you will about playing a "defensive system", but it's wasting the puck pursuit ability that a 6'2, 230 monster like Ovechkin can provide. It wastes the vision, anticipation and intelligence of Backstrom.

Now, I'm not saying you give free reign to Semin/Green hockey; you end up with the opposite problem. But I see many, many parallels between the Caps of today and the Wings of the mid-90s. Detroit was a massively talented club that lapped the league during the regular season. But when matched up against New Jersey in the playoffs, they were neutralized time and time again.

The answer is the left-wing lock, specifically Scotty Bowman's implementation that was tweaked to beat the New Jersey 1-2-2. Two forwards high, last one to enter the zone plays in a rectangle just below the face-off dots. You turn the tables on Boucher and the Lightning and the game becomes about speed and numbers, not opportunity.

Although I think GMGM has done a decent job, his additions this year took the team backwards in that respect. What good is a Scott Hannan if he can't possibly catch St. Louis, Stamkos or Lecavalier? Montreal feasted on the Caps last year for the same reason- while they eventually bowed out to a bigger, more physical team both this and last year, Washington plays in a gray middle ground that is perfect for a team like the Habs to exploit.

If the Caps move to a LWL system and bring in more puck-hungry speedsters to compliment Chimera and Ovy, it'll pay dividends shortly. Washington already has Kuznetsov and Eakin in the pipeline and they're natural fits for such a style of play. On the trade market, you target guys like Darren Helm, Matt Lombardi, Erik Cole and Matt Cullen. A reclamation project like Andrew Cogliano might also pay dividends. Bring in three of the above five, focus your development and drafting on making sure you always have a couple such spare parts, play the lock, and that's a team that can compete with anybody.

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