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I find it ridiculous how 'the trap' is blamed for slow pace of today's game

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Old
03-19-2004, 11:08 AM
  #1
SumOfUs
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I find it ridiculous how 'the trap' is blamed for slow pace of today's game

For years now 'the trap' has become a household term pointed at every team who plays good defense. You see a dman hold his guy up against the boards. "It's the trap!" You see players hooking on to each other in the neutral zone. "That damn trap!" The Vancouver Canucks play a wide open offensive game. "I'm glad they don't use the trap!" I'm sick of this BS. This term is thrown around so loosely that I am led to believe that very few people even know what the trap is.

First of all, the trap is not the problem with the game today. It does not make the game slow and boring, it does not make a mediocre team better than they should be. What bugs me the most is when people think that all the hooking and grabbing that is prominent in our league today is part of the trap. It is not. Let me repeat that, it is not. Holding, hooking, clutching and grabbing have nothing to do with the trap, they are strictly the result of poor reffing that has got out of hand over the past few years. This is a prime example of the slippery slope effect. They allow one thing, then another and another and before you know it hauling your man to the ice is no longer a penalty but a game tactic. The trap is not responsible for the clutching and grabbing.

Now, what exactly is the trap and which teams use it? The trap is a very basic technique that has been used throughout all of hockey's history. It is a defensive tactic that leaves forwards back in the neutral zone to cause turnovers. That's it. That's all the dreaded trap really is. It doesn't make the game boring or slow, it's the way the game should be played. It is simply a smart defensive tactic. It really bugs me how people point the finger at Minnesota and blame them for playing a "trapping" style of hockey. Yes, they play the trap but so does every other team in the league to a certain degree. A team that didn't play 'the trap' would be last place in the league sitting right below the penguins. The Canucks trap, the Leafs trap and even the Colorado Avalanche trap. The difference is the Wild are simply better at it and more focused on that element of their game.

Lastly, I'm tired of people thinking that the Wild have no skill because they use the trap. This system is not easy and requires incredible skill and hard work to play to a T the way they do it. I respect the Wild for that so much as it is not an easy game to play.

The trap is not the villain in this league the way people make it out to be.


Last edited by SumOfUs: 03-19-2004 at 11:38 AM.
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03-19-2004, 11:17 AM
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SumOfUs
Now, what exactly is the trap and which teams use it? The trap is a very basic technique that has been used throughout all of hockey's history. It is a defensive tactic that leaves forwards back in the neutral zone to cause turnovers. That's it. That's all the dreaded trap really is. It doesn't make the game boring or slow, it's the way the game should be played. It is simple a smart defensive tactic.
That's exactly right. The trap has been around through high-scoring and low-scoring eras, so it's not the problem. It's only become a mantra because some idiot THN writer needed to write an article about something about 8 years ago, and had a deadline to meet, so he figured why not blame everything that's wrong with the NHL on the trap? Little did he know it'd become a phenomenon.

There's nothing wrong with the trap itself. What becomes a problem is after the team forces a turnover in the neutral zone, and all they do is dump it back in as opposed to counterattacking. Put two teams who like to do that together, and it can get pretty awful in a hurry. But still, the trap itself isn't the problem there, it's lack of aggressiveness by the team using it, and coaches/players who won't take chances, or don't have the skill to take advantage of the turnovers.

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03-19-2004, 11:41 AM
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^Exactly. How long before a new term is invented for not counterattacking once the turnover is created?

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03-19-2004, 11:41 AM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmbt
That's exactly right. The trap has been around through high-scoring and low-scoring eras, so it's not the problem. It's only become a mantra because some idiot THN writer needed to write an article about something about 8 years ago, and had a deadline to meet, so he figured why not blame everything that's wrong with the NHL on the trap? Little did he know it'd become a phenomenon.
#1. I don't believe that the "trap" is the root cause of all that is evil in todays game, but it is IMO a large contributing factor.

#2. The hooking and olding has been going on forever, the trap has not.

When you look at old games teams did not sit back is a passive 1-2-2 style waiting for the play to come to them.

Teams believed in the forecheck, and used it aggressively, most often with 2 men in deep applying pressure, with oen forward back as a saftety net.

The "trap" has come into be in recent years for a number of reasons.

#1. Regular season games are much more important than the ever used to be. The more important the game, the bigger the emphasis on coaching and defense.

#2. Goalies that are skilled at moving the puck, which helps to negate a strong forecheck.

#3. Defenseman are far more skilled now than they used to be. On breakouts quick crisp passes are made, that can beat a strong forecheck and get teams moving up the ice quickly, causing possible odd-man breaks.

If you watch games from the 70's and 80's, nine times out of ten the breakout was the defenseman wheeling the puck up the boards to a winger, who would chip it out or try and make a pass.

Players are just so much more skilled than they used to be.

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03-19-2004, 11:45 AM
  #5
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Even though I agree that the trap isn't responsible for today's state of the NHL, you have to look at what problems there are in the NHL, and how to fix them. What I find a bit suspect is the point of the trap is to cause turnovers in the neutral zone, by cutting passing lanes and closing down the space on the ice. The opposing team's players, instead of trying to make a bad pass, or an awkward deke, go towards the boards to find that room, and that's where they get grabbed and clutched by the other team. That could also be why big defensemen are so popular in the NHL, the only thing they need to do is to contain a forward who has been forced to go towards the boards by the defenseman's forward teamates, tough job when the average dman might be 6-2,6-3 and the average forward might be 5-11,6-0 *rolls-eyes*

All of it is linked, if you had small defensemen, then the skill of the attacking forward could help him keep the puck and cross and blueline, or if they found a new way to close passing lanes without forcing the puck carriers to go towards the boards, that would also decrease the grabbing and the fans would see more creativity and skill displayed from the forwards.

With time, the NHL will have even more skilled players and that would make more teams switch to systems that talented teams like the Red Wings and Senators used/use.
the North-American system, where winning a hockey game is 1/2 physical and 1/2 skill, doesn't help either, put 4 lines of scorers on the ice instead of so many defensive sluggers and you'll see good hockey and good defensive moves too.

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03-19-2004, 11:57 AM
  #6
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Yet again...

The NHL has been slowly but steadily shrinking the neutral zone over the last decade. Right now the neutral zone is noticably smaller than the offensive zones. So yes any coach in his right mind is going to play a trap system defensively. It's the smallest zone on the ice therefore the best place to set up your defense.

Just for anyone who's wondering broads to blue is 73 and blueline to blueline is 54 and 85 feet wide.

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03-19-2004, 12:01 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by West
Yet again...

The NHL has been slowly but steadily shrinking the neutral zone over the last decade. Right now the neutral zone is noticably smaller than the offensive zones. So yes any coach in his right mind is going to play a trap system defensively. It's the smallest zone on the ice therefore the best place to set up your defense.

Just for anyone who's wondering broads to blue is 73 and blueline to blueline is 54 and 85 feet wide.
That will change back next season.

Back to the original 10-60-60-60-10.

Current is 13-60-54-60-13.

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03-19-2004, 01:13 PM
  #8
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I don't blame the trap.

I blame Lemaire.

-fullmetalninja

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03-19-2004, 01:22 PM
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With the exception of the 80s Oilers every successful team in the league has used "the Trap" to certain degrees when protecting a lead. No one argued it made sense in the sense of game strategy; similar to put a lefthanded batter to face a right-handed pitcher. It didn't really slow the game down, but it did limit offensive scoring opportunities and still does.

The argument now is that teams like the Wild use this tactic right from the opening faceoff. They do it even when they are down by as many as two goals. I have no problem seeing teams use the trap or variations on it to hold a lead, that's hockey, but seeing it from the first drop of the puck is nauseating.

It doesn't take a lot of skill to play the trap, it takes discipline and position. Two things you can teach, whereas goal-scoring and great passing are talents you can not teach. So if you have a team full of young guys with only one or two skill players it makes sense to use a strategy that you can teach. But I don't have to like it. And I have every right to get pissed off when I see skilled teams like the Flyers, Stars and Devils use this strategy in a tie game before the end of the first period. It' lazy coaching of lazy players. To get a great forecheck going you have to want it, plainly a lot of these millionaires don't want it bad enough. That or they do but their coaches won't take the leash off for fear of a mistake.

It's hockey, not chess!

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03-19-2004, 01:27 PM
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Sure, every team will protect a lead with a defensive scheme....but from my armchair I only see a couple of teams playing consistently boring hockey...if some people want to call boring "the trap", fine, I guess everything needs a name. Teams that approach a game like it's a 60 minute penalty kill are never going to get my dollar. If my hometown team (Boston) played games to win 1-0 with 20+ icings a game, they'd have a hard time keeping me around. Winning is great and all of that but I believe strongly in the entertainment of hockey.

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03-19-2004, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
#1. Regular season games are much more important than the ever used to be. The more important the game, the bigger the emphasis on coaching and defense.
Interesting point that I never considered, when scoring was at it's highest in the 80's only five teams didn't make the playoffs. So I could defintely see how the regular season was never taken as serious as now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
#2. Goalies that are skilled at moving the puck, which helps to negate a strong forecheck.
Also being just more athletic too, as someone who has been watching hockey since the late 70's and for those who haven't till recently due to young age, the goalies were not even remotely close to the atheltic ability that today's possess. Roy changed all that his rookie year and now you have goalies such as Brodeur, Belfour, Hasek etc.....who are sometimes can be considered the best athlete on the ice, better than most skaters. Back in the old days that was never the case, in fact alot of goalies in the NHL then were put in net in their youth due to the fact they sucked as a skater or player. But there were exceptions to that rule such as Tony Esposito and Billy Smith, but for the most part they were more positional and technique goalies than anything else.

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03-19-2004, 01:39 PM
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The original poster is right. The "trap" has been around for ages. I remember Bowman interviewed on radio several years ago, he said that the Habs of the 70's - one of the most exciting teams in hockey history - used the socalled trap regularly, he said in those days it was coined the "left wing lock".

Imo, the biggest reason for "boring hockey" is the pick and interference plays. In the old days forechecking ruled supreme, nowadays a player has to go through a forest of picks and intereference to get in on the forecheck...the same can be said for trying to get to the slot from behind the goal-line or off the boards (when you don't have the freakin' puck).

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03-19-2004, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SumOfUs

First of all, the trap is not the problem with the game today. It does not make the game slow and boring, it does not make a mediocre team better than they should be. What bugs me the most is when people think that all the hooking and grabbing that is prominent in our league today is part of the trap. It is not. Let me repeat that, it is not. Holding, hooking, clutching and grabbing have nothing to do with the trap, they are strictly the result of poor reffing that has got out of hand over the past few years. This is a prime example of the slippery slope effect. They allow one thing, then another and another and before you know it hauling your man to the ice is no longer a penalty but a game tactic. The trap is not responsible for the clutching and grabbing.


Lastly, I'm tired of people thinking that the Wild have no skill because they use the trap. This system is not easy and requires incredible skill and hard work to play to a T the way they do it. I respect the Wild for that so much as it is not an easy game to play.

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03-19-2004, 02:13 PM
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minnesota sucks

lemaire is the devil of hockey and burns is his sidekick

i agree 100% with the poster who said it's lazy coaching of lazy hockey players to try and win games 1-0

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03-19-2004, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SumOfUs
First of all, the trap is not the problem with the game today. It does not make the game slow and boring, it does not make a mediocre team better than they should be. What bugs me the most is when people think that all the hooking and grabbing that is prominent in our league today is part of the trap. It is not. Let me repeat that, it is not. Holding, hooking, clutching and grabbing have nothing to do with the trap, they are strictly the result of poor reffing that has got out of hand over the past few years.
Let's put it this way, without the hooking and holding the trap would be a lot less effective. Hooking and holding within the trap allows a much less skilled team to play it than would be required to play a "clean" trap, where players would need to use hockey smarts and positioning to slow down opponent's progress in the neutral zone. This creates an enviroment where hooking and holding is *encouraged* because it works and players know it won't be called.

I agree, eliminate the hooking and holding by forcing the refs to make the calls. However, if the hooking and holding is eliminated, I think many teams would abandon the trap for a more offensive style of play, simply because it would be very difficult to execute.

S L

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03-19-2004, 02:30 PM
  #16
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The dreaded neutral zone trap...it's everywhere!

http://www.sportsgoons.com/Vol1_Iss8...utral_zone.htm

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03-19-2004, 02:49 PM
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oh come on....

Clutching, grabbing and interference are synonymous with the way the trap is played today.

You show me a snapshot of the trap being implemented...and I'll show you a snapshot of interference, clutching, grabbing, and/or hooking.

You are correct in stating that the trap isn't responsible for boring hockey. But the trap is probably one of the most dangerous systems in hockey, when not used in conjunction with illegal plays.

If a team played a "clean" trap, you would see the more east<->west gifted players draw men in and then dish out the puck to an open skater. This just doesn't happen. In today's trap, any player in possession of the puck is preview to an army of hooks and grabs. While the other forwards are held up. Even if a team can break the trap by getting to the red line and dumping the puck deep, the pressure forwards are held up by backwards skating defensemen. It is fine to hold up the man who just shot the puck in, that a continuation of a play, but you can not hold up ALL the forwards from getting deep.

Teams like the Wild are just lucky that the refs lost their whistles, several seasons ago.

Watching teams like the Wild play is like watching peewee hockey. There is no speed, no excitement, no great plays.

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03-19-2004, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Profet
Teams like the Wild are just lucky that the refs lost their whistles, several seasons ago.

Watching teams like the Wild play is like watching peewee hockey. There is no speed, no excitement, no great plays.
Gee, we wouldn't be prone to overgeneralization, would we?

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03-19-2004, 03:28 PM
  #19
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I'd love to see the game called more tightly. The Wild would benefit far more than most people think, just like they benefited far more than the 'experts' thought they would with the "crackdown on obstruction."

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03-19-2004, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ceber
I'd love to see the game called more tightly. The Wild would benefit far more than most people think, just like they benefited far more than the 'experts' thought they would with the "crackdown on obstruction."
There was a crackdown on obstruction? Which game was that? I must of missed it.


The league's "crackdown" only benefitted trapping teams. Why? Because it was still only called 1/5 of the times it should of been called. And when a team takes 4 penalties in a row the refs have a habit of scrutinizing the other team more closely and letting more go.

Forget the crackdowns....there needs to be a league wide mandate. You don't call obstruction/hooking then you ref the AHL for a while. Just like the players. Every game needs to be looked at on tape and the refs need to be held accountable.

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03-19-2004, 04:04 PM
  #21
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I just hate people calling the Devils's style of play a pure trap.


The Devils are a talented team and play a Hybrid system. Watch a damn game, you'll see how it works. The Devils playing this system led the league in offense.

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03-19-2004, 04:05 PM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Latin
Let's put it this way, without the hooking and holding the trap would be a lot less effective. Hooking and holding within the trap allows a much less skilled team to play it than would be required to play a "clean" trap, where players would need to use hockey smarts and positioning to slow down opponent's progress in the neutral zone. This creates an enviroment where hooking and holding is *encouraged* because it works and players know it won't be called.

I agree, eliminate the hooking and holding by forcing the refs to make the calls. However, if the hooking and holding is eliminated, I think many teams would abandon the trap for a more offensive style of play, simply because it would be very difficult to execute.

S L
I echo these sentiments. The trap itself is based on creating and exploiting neutral zone turnovers, utilizing a quick transition game to spring fast forwards on odd-man breaks after a broken play. This is exciting hockey. What's bogging the game down is not so much the trap itself, but the proverbial clutch-and-grab that goes on today.

The only crackdown I can see that would actually work would be if they reworked the rulebook into mostly black-and-white; eg. "stick touches opposing player above waistline == 2 minute penalty" (that's an example, not necessarily a suggestion).

However, I sometimes wonder if even this would be enough. The simply fact is that the game has evolved since the eighties. The improvement in goaltending has already been mentioned, but seems to me a much lesser problem since goaltenders can only stop the actual goals themselves from happening, not scoring chances -- and it's the lack of scoring chances that's the real problem here.

However, they're not alone in having developed. Defensemen today are overall terrific in both their positioning and their lateral movement. It's very, very hard even for the strongest and fastest forwards to get around most any NHL defenseman today. And as for forwards, pretty much every team in the league utilizes some kind of defensive scheme that includes the forwards. Even the Great One himself admitted to floating back in his glory days; this is rare now. Forwards backcheck and cover for out-of-play defensemen to a much greater degree than before.

Watch teams like Ottawa or NJ, and see how every skater on the ice is setting picks, breaking up passes, taking away ice and passing lanes, pressuring the puck-carrier. It's quite impressive, and hard to regulate against without going overboard. One way of reducing this would be to increase the size of the ice, I believe, but then you'd also lose some of that delicious physical element that makes the North American brand of hockey so entertaining.

All in all, it's a tough nut to crack; but the clutch-and-grab really has to go.

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03-19-2004, 04:15 PM
  #23
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Is this thread, in anyway, a response to people being disgusted by some of the most skilled players in the world, on Ottawa, sitting back in the neutral zone?

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03-19-2004, 04:17 PM
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KungFuPenguin
I echo these sentiments. The trap itself is based on creating and exploiting neutral zone turnovers, utilizing a quick transition game to spring fast forwards on odd-man breaks after a broken play. This is exciting hockey. What's bogging the game down is not so much the trap itself, but the proverbial clutch-and-grab that goes on today.

The only crackdown I can see that would actually work would be if they reworked the rulebook into mostly black-and-white; eg. "stick touches opposing player above waistline == 2 minute penalty" (that's an example, not necessarily a suggestion).

However, I sometimes wonder if even this would be enough. The simply fact is that the game has evolved since the eighties. The improvement in goaltending has already been mentioned, but seems to me a much lesser problem since goaltenders can only stop the actual goals themselves from happening, not scoring chances -- and it's the lack of scoring chances that's the real problem here.

However, they're not alone in having developed. Defensemen today are overall terrific in both their positioning and their lateral movement. It's very, very hard even for the strongest and fastest forwards to get around most any NHL defenseman today. And as for forwards, pretty much every team in the league utilizes some kind of defensive scheme that includes the forwards. Even the Great One himself admitted to floating back in his glory days; this is rare now. Forwards backcheck and cover for out-of-play defensemen to a much greater degree than before.

Watch teams like Ottawa or NJ, and see how every skater on the ice is setting picks, breaking up passes, taking away ice and passing lanes, pressuring the puck-carrier. It's quite impressive, and hard to regulate against without going overboard. One way of reducing this would be to increase the size of the ice, I believe, but then you'd also lose some of that delicious physical element that makes the North American brand of hockey so entertaining.

All in all, it's a tough nut to crack; but the clutch-and-grab really has to go.
Even with a larger ice surface, the problem is getting shots that aren't at bad angles. Maybe the only solution is a drastic one. Fulltime 4 on 4 hockey.

It solves 3 problems:
  • Opens up the ice surface for those bigger bodies.
  • The trap becomes a lot harder, if not impossible to implement in its current form.
  • Decreases the amount of players in the NHL.

The third point is the most important. Over the last 15 years there has been a serious dilution in talent. If you shrink on ice man power and roster sizes, we have less Dale Purintons and Eric Godards in the league. Another aspect of this decision would be that with roster down sizing so does payroll. All without sacrificing any revenue.

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03-19-2004, 04:28 PM
  #25
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I think what is making hockey boring now a days is the defensive team just collapsing in front of the net. When they do that they take away the slot and keep all the shots to the periphery where they are easier for skaters to block. If they want to get more scoring they should either reduce the size of equipment skaters can wear so they can't fearlessly block shots anymore or they should find a way to stop five defends from amassing in front of the net - I don't know draw a box in front of the net and make it a whistle or penalties to have 4/5 defenders in it at any one time? I know people don't like how the trap slows down the game in the neutral zone but what makes trap teams boring is that once a team does get it in their end they just clog up the front of net and prevent any scoring chances.

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