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11-11-2012, 10:11 AM
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Johnny Bower and the Leafs Defensively

Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
In the 2010-11 season Tim Thomas won the Vezina with the best GAA and SP on a team that was considered defensively oriented. Claude Julien is without question a defense first coach. Boston gave up 32.7 shots per game. Only Carolina gave up more.

From what I recall, Bower had a bad catching hand. He stopped pucks with it but rarely caught them. Perhaps rebound control ( much like Tim Thomas) played into the higher shot totals. Or perhaps the defensive systems of both teams allowed the shots from the perimiters and cleaned up the dangerous slot area.
The core Leaf defense during Johnny Bower's tenure featured two RHS - Horton and Baun and two LHS Stanley and Brewer. They had the size/toughness to play against the big forwards of the era - Howe and Beliveau and the quickness and savy to exploit the handedness advantage to reduce passing and shooting angles while clearing the zone quickly.

Johnny Bower's major strength was the use of his stick, best pokecheck I ever saw from a goalie. Excellent at directing shots to the corners, clearing rebounds, intercepting centering passes and getting the puck up ice.Lacked the mobility of Plante so he was not as aggressive countering the dump and chase.

Bower had excellent communications with his defensemen. He would quick catch/drop the puck so that his defensemen could clear it - avoiding unnecessary faceoffs in the defensive zone.

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