Entertaining Hockey versus Winning Hockey
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11-13-2003, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
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.
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