Blog Entry

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:35 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 9:30 pm
By: Adam Gretz

When Guy Boucher took over as the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach last season and had the team within one game of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, his defense-first, 1-3-1 neutral zone trap was a big part of the team's success. Of course, like any system, it only works as long as the players buy into it. And based on the first period of Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers, they're committed. Very committed. Incredibly committed.

The Flyers strategy for defeating it? Do absolutely, positively nothing.

It was a bold move that was countered by the Lightning ... doing absolutely, positively nothing.

On a number of occassions in the first period on Wednesday, the Flyers simply refused to advance the puck out of their own zone, while the Lightning refused to apply any pressure on the forecheck. The result is perhaps the most boring highlight in the history of the NHL. This makes the the mid-late 90s clutch-and-grab, dead puck era look like the high-scoring 1980s.

And this happened on multiple occassions. If I had to guess, I would say that at least four-five minutes of the opening period was spent with the Flyers standing around in their own zone, with the Lightning standing around in the neutral zone, all while the paying fans in the stands let loose with a chorus of boos. It should also be pointed out that the Flyers entered the game as the highest scoring team in the NHL on a goals-per-game basis.

Pierre McGuire, who is analyzing the game from between the benches for the Versus Network, said the Flyers bench was standing up and openly mocking the Lightning players for refusing to apply a forecheck.

During a stoppage, McGuire interviewed Boucher and asked him what he told his players, and Boucher's response was simple: "Stick with our plan, not their plan."

Back in March, the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL tried a similar strategy against the Montreal Juniors (video via Twitter).

Brilliant strategy, or an admission that you have no idea how to beat the system? Or do you blame the Lightning for playing such a passive brand of hockey? Either way, if a team is going to try it over the course of an entire game, scoring first would appear to be an absolute must.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.


Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:01 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

Reminds me of the Devils trap from years ago, slows down the game, limits scoring, makes for pretty boring hockey.  With that said, if I am the flyers coach, I have my players line up, skate as hard/fast as they can, dump the puck in and go get it.  Go bang for the puck, win it and put the puck in the back of the net.  Who cares that they don't pressure the puck, go straight at them and take it to them.

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:31 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

I listen to the game on 94WIP of the Flyers network. Those guys were completely embarrassed as to what Pronger was duing, the color man said it was so stupid he couldnt even watch it and was going to close his eyes. He even timed what Pronger was doing and said it was the dumbest thing he ever saw in an NHL game. When the Flyers fans started booing, the radio anouncers said good for them, they ought to be, and they should all get there money back. So thats from a Philly perspective. IMO the whole mess can be blamed on the Flyers head coach and Cris Pronger. Other NHL players were asked by there coach to do what Pronger did and the said no, they didnt have the nerve.

The GM meetings start today in Toronto, Im sure the NHL is going to address this issue today and make some clarifications with in the next few days or even today. The refs didnt even know how to handle it and called Toronto's War Room between the first and second periods.

All the Lightning were trying to do is make Cris Pronger make a mistake or get a turn over. If your a veteran defencemen in the NHL, who cares who is standing in the nuetral zone...have some guts and take it to them. Flyers were the embarrassment last night, admitted by there own radio network and all the video out there. I never seen anything so stupid in the NHL in all my life.

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:31 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

Additionally the point of Hockey is not simply just TO SCORE, it is to win the game
And the point of the NHL is to make money, by selling tickets, advertising, and hockey sweaters.  They do that by offering an exciting form entertainment.  When you allow crap like that on the tv, it loses fans, bores them, forces them to watch the CMA awards or something almost as bad.  The NHL is already on a podunk network like Versus, do you want to force them to the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) now?  Then they will be indoor soccer or worse, curling. 

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:20 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

A sport without a strategy is called a pick-up game. The Flyers not attacking is like a quarterback taking a knee after the snap because the defensive formation looks challenging. It is like a batter who refuses to bat until the pitcher tells him what pitch he is going to throw. The VS. crew was stupid enough to say the Lightning guy should go challenge him in order to open up a hole for the Flyers to pass/skate through. Isn't the point of defense to not allow the puck into your zone? The truth is that the Lightning do give up a lot of goals, however when they have the chance to set-up the 1-3-1 previous to the puck entering their zone it is very succesful.  Extremely biased game calling from the versus crew.  Hockey has new rules regarding the two-line pass, icing, goalie trapezoid, net size, Point scoring system, yet a team headed by a new coach attempts a new defensive strategy, unseen to the NHL and everybody freaks out.  The best linebackers in football know when to commit to the blitz and when to sit back and wait for the offensive move. If hockeygoers see the 1-3-1 system as unfair then you obviously have little faith that your team can beat it. The 1-3-1 says more about the team on offense than the team on defense. The offensive team needs to be able to counteract the 1-3-1.   Additionally the point of Hockey is not simply just TO SCORE, it is to win the game. The flyers showed in their 9-8 loss last week to Winnipeg that it doesn't matter how much you score if you can't keep the other team from scoring.  Any coach watching last nights is taking notes at how the Lightning held the highest scoring offense to just 1 goal and 14 shots.

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:09 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

First I find the 1-3-1 boring.... that said, I think it is a fair way to play the game and there is nothing wrong with it.  They aren't clutching and grabbing through the zone, and you play to your teams strengths, Tampa probably can't play a run and shoot offense with the Capitals or the Flyers (note I leave the Penguins out of the equation - to avoid the obvious homerism). 

It is an interesting strategy for Philly to employ, the result of this would end up being 0-0 ties at the end of OT, and a shootout.  If teams employ this and Tampa couldn't compete in shootouts - they would likely forecheck more.  If, however, like this game the Lightning win in shootouts you are just playing into their hands. 

I doubt very much that teams would be satisfied for sitting in their zones all night every night, so I don't think this will play out.  I could however see teams employing this if they got a lead on TB.

I still think the best way to beat this is short passes and puck support, but few teams have the patience to do it all night.

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:45 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

Dullest hockey game that I ever tried to watch...had to turn it off.  I don't care if TB has had success, it is a lousy system that is bad for hockey.  It tells me that their coach knows that they don't have talent so they have to resort to gimmicks to win.  It should be outlawed.  Just like in basketball, where you have the 3 second rule on offense or illegal defenses (though I believe those rules are now changed) you should regulate how a team plays to open up the game.  The american public (and probably canadian too) want fast paced hockey with a bunch of goals and hitting.  That is what sells tickets, that is what sells jerseys, that is what sells advertising to tv executives....and that all relates to money.  If nobody watches, this league dies.  It is already only the 4th or 5th biggest spectator sport in America (NFL, MLB, NBA and possibly even Major League Soccer, which sucks...and if I count NCAA basketball and football, then it drops further) take away the goals and hitting and skating and you have the excitement of bowling.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:21 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

That's fine John, then as a paying customer to Lightning games you should have no problem watching more & more teams implement what the Flyers did last night. I have NEVER seen a team in a 0-0 tie apply ZERO pressure at all on the forcheck, that is just baffaling to me. Now, if Tampa was winning even 1-0 then your argument could hold water but in a 0-0 game grow a pair & at least send 1 player to apply even token pressure. I mean with your 1 defenseman was sitting in your goalies lap. You wanna imploy that strategy against teams that score more than your team fine, there is no rule to say you can't. And BOTH teams were to blame for the way the game was being played, but like most referees in sports you wanna blame the retaliator(FLYERS) rather then get the culprit (LIGHTNING).
Oh yeah, why was it that Pierre Maguire, Mike Milbury & Keith Jones ALL said that this was TAMPA BAY'S fault & not Philadelphia's, why was it that NHL players were texting & Tweeting that this was ALL Tampa Bay's fault. You wanna try to blame the Flyers that's fine but your in the very small minority. Tampa Bay is too good of a hockey team to play a "scared" 0-0 game, this is hockey not soccer Mr. Guy Boucher!

Since: Sep 20, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:13 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap


Since: May 12, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 6:07 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

the team with the puck are the ones that are suppose to move it right? getting upset about a teams defensive strategy and standing there is upstanding professionalism? bewilderment? lack of something better to do?  Did the Lightning's defense trump them that hard? did their brains stop receiving and processing information?  THESE TEAMS SHOULD OVER COMMIT TO OUR BREAK OUT 100% OF THE TIME! SO WE CAN SKATE PAST THEM!!! lol what a bunch of wanks. Seriously... MOMMY THEY AREN'T LETING ME WIN!

Since: May 12, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 5:02 am

Flyers boring strategy for 'beating' 1-3-1 trap

"the team's defense wouldn't blitz all game so we couldn't throw it to our star tight end!!!!" it's their fault... WOW philly's pro team is as bad as their fans.

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