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Blog Entry

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

Posted on: November 10, 2011 1:28 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 2:59 pm
 
Boucher1

By: Adam Gretz

The highest scoring team in the NHL (the Philadelphia Flyers) played a Tampa Bay Lightning team on Wednesday night that featured the most prolific goal-scorer in the league over the past two seasons (Steven Stamkos) and a former MVP (Martin St. Louis). That should result in an exciting game with a lot of goals, scoring chances and back-and-forth play, right? Wrong.

The highlight (or lowlight) of the night, as well as the biggest talking point in the NHL on Thursday morning, is how the game, which Tampa Bay won in overtime, 2-1, had all the excitement of paint drying due to the Lightning's commitment to its 1-3-1 system, and the Flyers' unwillingness to attack it.

If you haven't already seen it, multiple times throughout the game, especially during the first period, the Flyers' defensemen, including Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn, refused to skate the puck out of their own zone and waited for the Lightning's forecheckers to make the first move.

When that didn't happen, the result was a stalemate unlike any other

And this was a game that was played on national television. That can not be what the NHL wants, and most of the negative reaction has been directed at the Lightning and coach Guy Boucher for playing such a style of hockey.

Versus analyst Mike Milbury, for example, left the set during the second intermission of Wednesday's game in "protest" (though, his night was probably over at that point anyway), while the discussion of whether or not the NHL needs to implement some form of "shot clock" to prevent a team from not advancing the puck the way Philadelphia did has been kicked off.


Depending on your rooting interest you probably have a different idea as to who the winners and losers were in this game. If you're a Lightning fan you're probably happy (and rightfully so) because your team won the game. Flyers fans -- and the Flyers themselves -- seem to be taking great pride in the fact that they embarrassed the Lightning by essentially calling out their style of play and shining some light on how boring the neutral zone trap is (though, we didn't need the Flyers to prove that to us -- we knew that based on watching hockey between 1995 and 2005).

Take, for example, the words of Pronger, via Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly:
“Would you pay money to see that? I wouldn’t either and that was a [VERSUS] TV game, too. Way to showcase the product. Look at the players they got over there.
 
“That’s not my job. Maybe Shanny [Brendan Shanahan] should take charge of that, too. I don’t know.
 
“That is the way they play there all the time, whether it’s us or anybody. If they get down, they go into a two-man forecheck. We were just waiting for them to come in. Force them out of their forecheck or whatever that was. They weren’t forchecking. Their stance, I guess.
 
“That was their game right there. We were making them look bad. That’s not hockey in my book, but whatever. The league is letting them do it.”
Of course the league is "letting them do it," because there's nothing in the rule book that says a team can't play a certain type of defensive system. And as far as the "making them look bad" is concerned, it should again be pointed out that Tampa Bay did, in fact, win the hockey game, which is still the ultimate goal.

Tampa Bay doesn't pride itself on winning games in style, because if it did, it wouldn't be playing the 1-3-1 to begin with. So it's doubtful the Lightning are going to apologize for the boring manner in which they win games. And they aren't.

"We're sticking to the game plan," said Boucher, via the St. Pete Times. "When we have the puck we're aggressive with it, and when we don't have the puck we dedicate ourselves to being above the puck instead of chasing from behind. It tells me guys are buying in."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff chimed in on Thursday and according to John Vogl condoned Tampa Bay's style of play, but did add that there has to be an obligation to try and get the puck if the other team has it.

There also has to be an obligation for the team with the puck to move it.

As a hockey fan, of course I would prefer to see a more offensive game that highlights the skill of the players on the ice, so I can't say that I love the way Tampa Bay plays. I certainly respect it, and I respect the way players have obviously bought into Boucher's system, but it is boring. But I also don't want to see anything that would limit their ability to play that style of hockey or restrict a players' on-ice movements, such as the type of "illegal defense" rules the NBA has attempted over the years, mainly because I'm not sure how you enforce it, and also because the referees have enough to worry about without trying to identify what system a team is playing.

I don't blame the Lightning for what took place Wednesday night, and focussing on Tampa Bay seems to overlook the fact that just about every team in the NHL plays some variation of the trap -- it's just that the Lightning's is different from all the others. Still, when the Flyers have the puck the onus is on them to advance it, play the game, and figure out a way to exit their own zone, navigate through the neutral zone and enter the offensive zone. They chose not to do that.

And let's not act like the Lightning and their system, no matter how committed they are to it, are impossible to score against. Last season they allowed 155 goals during 5-on-5 play (when they would have been playing their system). Only 12 teams in the NHL allowed more. So far this season they've allowed 33 goals during 5-on-5 play, which is the fourth most in the NHL (only Ottawa, Carolina and Philadelphia have allowed more).

You can score against them. The only way you're guaranteed to not score against them is if you make no effort.

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments

Since: May 14, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:17 am
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

why is the onus on Philly to advance the puck? If they are content with a 0-0 tie and going to a shootout then they should also play to win the best way they can so just sit on the puck behind their own net for 60 minutes and wait out the Lightning. Especially in Tampa.



Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:11 am
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

Sorry for the double post.

Typical for a team from Philadelphia. Cause a problem and blame it on the other guy.

Philly should be punished for breaking the spirit of the game. Whoever instilled the "I don't like the way they're playing defense, so I won't try" mentality ought to be sat down, whether it is the coach, Pronger, or any other player.

What a bunch of babies. Reminds me of kids on the playground who go crying home to mommy because the opponent isn't playing right.

Then again, we're talking about a team from Philly, so this really shouldn't surprise me.



Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:08 am
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

Typical for a team from Philadelphia. Cause a problem and blame it on the other guy.

Philly should be punished for breaking the spirit of the game. Whoever instilled the "I don't like the way they're playing defense, so I won't try" mentality ought to be sat down, whether it is the coach, Pronger, or any other player.

What a bunch of babies. Reminds me of kids on the playground who go crying home to mommy because the opponent is playing right.

Then again, we're talking about a team from Philly, so this really shouldn't surprise me.



Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:59 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

Lightning did this all last season. Why are the Flyers getting so pissy now? Do they really expect the NHL to make a rule that you can't run a specific defense? That's funny. Who cares if it's boring, the objective is to win. Apparently it's not a bad gameplan since the Lightning made it to the ECF last year. Quit complaining and just beat it.

Even Crosby wouldn't whine like Pronger was.



Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:48 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

this is retarded. of course it's up to philly to advance or not advance the puck. it's a 1-3-1 so instead of your greedwhore forwards sitting at the opposite blueline and or hanging out circling in the nuetral zone, maybe a forward needs to come back, switch off with a d-man and stack one side of the ice. 


gee i mean perhaps the lightning just didn't respect the skating abilty and breakout ability of a pronger and co. 


let's see... what rank is philly's offense again?


right. adjust. don't complain.  



Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:30 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

In no way should the defense EVER be made to force the action.  The defense reacts to offense and stops them from scoring. 
So, dcrum, I see you're repeating the same futile argument you were making on the other thread. 
So, the defense exclusively reacts to offense and stops them from scoring?  Who says all they can do is react?  Where is that written?  And if what you refer to as the defense does "react", why didn't the Lightning "react" by coming out and forcing the Flyers out of their tactic? 
Don't the Lightning want to score themselves?  And how do they hope to do that against a team that refuses to bite against the Lightning's system? 

Philly is COMPLETELY at fault here.
Sorry, but you can't put the whole blame on the Flyers, or even more than half of it.  
If you don't like the Flyers' tactic, you as the opponent can force them to abandon it any time you want.  Until then, why don't you stop whining?



Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:06 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

This was funny.  If teams like Tampay want to play like that and not entertain their own fans, then two can play that game.


Good old fashioned Mexican Standoff



Since: Nov 15, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:20 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

Pronger thinks that they embarrassed TB?  How?  Essentially, Philly was saying that TB was too good for them to play against.  Or at the very least, Philly coaches admitted that Boucher outthought them.  TB played the same system against Boston last year in the playoffs, and Boston seemed to do ok.  Just like any system, there is a weakness to it that can be exploited.  By doing nothing, Philly was basically saying that they couldnt figure it out.  They were proving a point?  What, that they were going to throw the extra point away that they coulda had if they won?  Every team should play that system against them then. 



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:57 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

Hey BroBob - The game has been played this way since it began. Dont make stupid comments if you don't have a clue about the sport.




Since: Nov 10, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:46 pm
 

It's a trap: Tampa Bay's system under attack

One more reason to not watch hockey



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