The Offseason Thread V: Needs to End Edition
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08-05-2013, 05:28 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Originally Posted by
They showed the 94 Devils/Rangers game 7 on NHL network the other day. It was startling to see how much the game has changed in 20 years.
The speed of the game is way faster right now, but there is so much more structure. The games really showcased skill and creativity in a much more obvious way. Leetch, for instance, was almost never in position. There were opportunities galore going both ways. Goalies had pads that didn't cover the entire net. There were very few dump-ins. (and this was the Devils too!)
And again, this was game 7 of a conference final. Sure, the players were slower, but it looked like a more exciting game than anything i saw in this year's playoffs.
I'd love for someone to do a breakdown of games from 20 years ago compared to today. Something that could show the amount of time the puck is involved in a play that could be considered a structured play (dump ins, break-outs etc.-- versus pure skill/instinct plays.) I am convinced the stat that would be generated would be eye opening.
Point is, NHL has never been faster and possibly more skilled, but the way the game is played today hides all that skill far too much. It's like trying to enjoy watching professional poker.
Yeah, its a bit problematic.
First of all, I love that you acknowledge those plays from the 94' team. Nowadays, you often hear about how certain plays supposedly are East-West European plays, which is a complete load of bull. I don't know how many times in that PO's Adam Graves enters the zone on the right side, put on the breaks and hits a trailing player with a pass. The 90's crowd nowdays would yell shoot and ask for more North American N-S plays if a pass was made like that today. Every player on that team drop passes the puck on a regular basis. To a large extent, pre-trap era hockey has become Europan hockey in the eyes of so many around the game today.
Secondly, your point has been discussed some in the perspective of the KHL vs the NHL.
The downside of the NHL, and I am -- definitely -- not saying that the KHL is more entertaining than the NHL, is definitely that the pace of the game makes it harder for skilled players.
The problematic part is that to fix it, you need to acknowledge what causes the problem.
And its not only the "pace" of the game that is behind it. Its also the mind set of many teams. Many coaches just opts to go with a safe low potential style of play. Detroit Red Wings is of course a bit unique, but they are definitely an example of how you still can be successful not playing that destructive high tempo style. Why doesn't more teams follow DRW? Or other versions of that style?
Somehow, it also boils down to the cap, 30 teams in one league, etc.
Teams are just not that confident in the NHL
. And when you aren't confident, you don't try new things etc.
Its not something you would fix easily, making the ice larger might get all kind of results. Maybe it will come with time. One thing that is very obvious for someone like myself who started to follow the league in the early 90's is the complete termination of the puck rushing D during the trap era. The trap era ended 7 years ago, how long will it take before they come back?
Its not just the Leetch end-to-end rushes that we don't see today. Its --
-- on the blueline that have gone missing. Go back 20 years, and the most talented Ds were as talented as the most talented forwards's. There is just not a single D in this league the last 10 years who even remotely offensively have been as skilled as an Ilya Kovalchuk for example. Some will say that there isn't room in the game for puck rushing D's, but I am 100% convinced that a D as talented as Ilya Kovalchuk while being decent defensively would be able to do a helluva lot of damage from the blueline. Just look at Erik Karlsson who is closing in on a PPG, and he is a midget.
If we see more talent on the blueline down the road, coaches will get diffrent tools and can create diffrent products. I mean, for example, I like our D's. I like Staal, Girardi and McD. And MDZ and Strålman. But you often hear comments about how these guys supposedly have good first passes. How their offensive game is underrated and what not. But if you grew up watching hockey during most of the 90's, its more or less impossible to like be impressed by McD's "first pass". Why exactly are people impressed? Because they can deliver a pass blade to blade? Isn't that expected from any 13 y/o playing hockey? I can buy that these guys do not lack any fundamental ability to be decent offensive D's. But they certainly do not possess much offensive ability as of today. Or at least hasn't been allowed to displayed it under Torts. And passive assists they have picked up logging 20+ minutes a night doesn't change that.
In the end, I am fairly confident that the game will change to the better given time.
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