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In defense of the Defense

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Old
10-24-2009, 09:13 PM
  #1
HatTrick Swayze
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In defense of the Defense

In my time at HF, I’ve learned that this board has a short memory and an even shorter attention span – it’s the nature of the way things work on the internet and in the rapid fire information age we live in. That said, I felt the need to point something out.

Coming into this season, we knew Torts was going to bring a new system with him. Most people were anticipating a high-tempo offensive game where defensemen roved at will, the forwards first priority was scoring, and we all got to watch some fast-paced “exciting” hockey. I also think that coming into the season, most reasonable fans expected there to be a few more odd-man rushes and a lot more goals against – but hey - we’ve got the King so our odds are good right? (NOTE: not knocking the strategy, I happen to like it)

I think thus far, the above formula has been exactly what we’ve seen – and we’ve certainly seen both its positive and negative aspects. But it still drives me absolutely nuts to see people in GDTs and elsewhere continually rip on defenseman (and over the course of the season NOONE has been spared – well, maybe MDZ) for failing to stop goals. While I agree that there have been misplays, and I agree that there have been growing pains, I also think at times we overlook the system the Rangers are playing.

Defense is not played by only the two Rangers’ defensemen on the ice at any one time. Defense is a team concept. For every time Rozy coughs the puck up the middle, Staal gives the puck away in the neutral zone, Redden gets burned to the outside, Gilroy gets caught deep, or Girardi stands poking at the puck instead of taking the body, one of our forwards is slacking on the back check, doing a rink turn when they should be stop/starting, or being lazy when coming back to defend (cough cough Gabby in OT).

Long story short, we all knew (or should have known) that the ultimate deciding factor behind how well our team plays defensively this year would be the play of Henrik Lundqvist. We knew that we were going to face more off man rushes. We knew that there would be games and stretches like this. I’m not saying our defensive group is perfect or can’t be improved; I’m just saying that we should all remember the bigger picture behind the games we’re watching and maybe, just maybe, cut the guys on the back end some slack every once in a while.

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10-24-2009, 09:19 PM
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Word. The forwards have to be better and they just can't let the other team beat them up the ice again and again. That'll kill any defense, no matter how good they are

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10-24-2009, 09:21 PM
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You're team looks amazing, I'm sure Gomez and Mara said something in the locker room during the 1st intermission, and it got the boys going. Gaborik looks phenomenal with you guys, but the D on the OT goal was lacking, not sure why they let him shoot after the way he scored his second goal. But like I was telling myself when the habs lost 5 str8, you gotta roll with the punches, your team has so much talent, all it takes is everyone on the same page, like the Habs did tonight after the 1st

Good luck the rest of the way, see you 3 more time, then hopefully somewhere in the playoffs, eastern finals?

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10-24-2009, 09:26 PM
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I think Gilroy kinda blew that play...he either needed to get after that puck, or get his stick into position to deflect it. He got caught just slightly out of position because he was distracted by Gaborik (in my opinion)

but you gotta remember he's a rookie

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10-24-2009, 10:17 PM
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donpaulo
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4th youngest D in the NHL is going to have issues

assuming the kids continue to develop they should really be a top notch unit in a season or three

agree on the team concept, back checking as well as getting back on the play are key

and turnovers are killers

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10-24-2009, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzYNiNe View Post
You're team looks amazing, I'm sure Gomez and Mara said something in the locker room during the 1st intermission, and it got the boys going. Gaborik looks phenomenal with you guys, but the D on the OT goal was lacking, not sure why they let him shoot after the way he scored his second goal. But like I was telling myself when the habs lost 5 str8, you gotta roll with the punches, your team has so much talent, all it takes is everyone on the same page, like the Habs did tonight after the 1st

Good luck the rest of the way, see you 3 more time, then hopefully somewhere in the playoffs, eastern finals?
thanks for the kind words bro. im glad to see gomez is doing well in montreal, completely legit feelings from me. nice guy in new york and worked hard.

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10-24-2009, 10:34 PM
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Well put nyrfan444 -- I'd take this system over the "play-not-to-lose" philosophy we had the last few years (not to blame Renney, I think it's obvious he had MUCH MUCH less to work with than Torts did, even Tom's 2006 team) ... also not saying it will lead to better results, simply put it's just more entertaining hockey to watch, I just hope it won't result in a Lundqvist injury (knock on wood).

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10-25-2009, 01:29 AM
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And, for each time that a forward does not backcheck successfully, a defenseman forgoes the opportunity to stop an opposing player in their tracks and at least create the opportunity to regain the puck.

It takes a full effort. Pointing out the lack of successful backchecking doesn't in any way negate what is given away when a defenseman does not take the easy play and simply sit someone down.

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10-25-2009, 07:14 AM
  #9
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Great post to start this. I think other team's are coming up with strategies to offset what the Rangers were doing early on this season. For one they are contesting the neutral zone a lot more. The Canadiens used their speed to counterattack very effectively last night. Ranger forwards were negligent backchecking at times and it cost us--over at Hockey Rodent he has clips of the Cammalleri's game winning goal where Gaborik gave up on his backcheck and Gilroy allowed his own momentum to take him out of position. Watching TSN--they noted on the Canadiens 3rd goal not just Dubinsky turning the puck over but Staal's drifting away from the middle of the ice after passing to Dubinsky putting himself out of position to defend after the turnover.

It is a young defense and someone like Staal is being asked to do a lot more than just defend and it's going to come with some growing pains. A lot of the breakdowns that led to goals last night were because of multiple mistakes by more than one player--often a forward and a defenseman. Anyway it seems to me that lately three of our defensemen are struggling with Tort's game plan--Staal, Girardi and Rozsival.

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10-25-2009, 07:17 AM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trilobyte View Post
And, for each time that a forward does not backcheck successfully, a defenseman forgoes the opportunity to stop an opposing player in their tracks and at least create the opportunity to regain the puck.

It takes a full effort. Pointing out the lack of successful backchecking doesn't in any way negate what is given away when a defenseman does not take the easy play and simply sit someone down.
I don't disagree and I never said the defensemen have been sparkling.

All I'm saying is that at the end of the day defense is a team thing, and that we should have expected to give up a few more goals (especially on odd man rushes) coming in to this season with Torts.

I feel like some posters (just speaking in general here) expect us to be able to play a high-tempo offensive game under Torts and still manage to play Renny-style shut down defense - and it ain't happening - only the best 1-2 teams in the NHL have the resources to pull that off. We have to realize that games like last night will happen with this style.

EDIT: And to eco's point on the third goal, I think that underscores my argument even further. In that situation (PP, Dubi rushing the puck up ice) Staal is clearly trying to jump up as the system (and situation) would seem to warrant. If you want your defensemen to jump up constantly, they're not always going to be in perfect position; you can't have it both ways.

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10-25-2009, 07:35 AM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyrfan444 View Post
I don't disagree and I never said the defensemen have been sparkling.

All I'm saying is that at the end of the day defense is a team thing, and that we should have expected to give up a few more goals (especially on odd man rushes) coming in to this season with Torts.

I feel like some posters (just speaking in general here) expect us to be able to play a high-tempo offensive game under Torts and still manage to play Renny-style shut down defense - and it ain't happening - only the best 1-2 teams in the NHL have the resources to pull that off. We have to realize that games like last night will happen with this style.

EDIT: And to eco's point on the third goal, I think that underscores my argument even further. In that situation (PP, Dubi rushing the puck up ice) Staal is clearly trying to jump up as the system (and situation) would seem to warrant. If you want your defensemen to jump up constantly, they're not always going to be in perfect position; you can't have it both ways.

Well to me watching the Rangers trying to get Staal involved in pwp situations is akin to throwing a rookie qb out into his first NFL action. There is a bit of learn as you go. He's not a natural at it like MDZ. His pass to Dubinsky with Brandon going into heavy traffic where he was stripped was probably not the best option for either of them (it got Dubi benched)--his drifting towards the boards away from the counterattack should be very correctable however.

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10-25-2009, 07:35 AM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyrfan444 View Post
EDIT: And to eco's point on the third goal, I think that underscores my argument even further. In that situation (PP, Dubi rushing the puck up ice) Staal is clearly trying to jump up as the system (and situation) would seem to warrant. If you want your defensemen to jump up constantly, they're not always going to be in perfect position; you can't have it both ways.
At the same time, the defensemen have to make better decisions about jumping up. The puck carrier shouldn't be the last man back in a situation like that, that's just bad defense, not an issue with an aggressive system.

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