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We Need To Change our Defensive Style of Play


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#31 Forsy

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:10 AM

I just posted a few days ago about the necessity of a great defense required for winning the stanley cup. And I do believe that the team must have a more conservative defense to offset their reduced level of offensive power. However, all defense won't solve it either.

1) To focus on a good defensive system, they must have amazing transition hockey to actually produce goals somewhere. In addition, snipers who can score without complicated offensive system setups will be necessary.

2) No matter how good your defense and attack is, you will fail if you are not smarter in anticipating puck movement (faster retrieval, more blocked passes, steals, etc), and having the cunning, strength and size to win 1v1 puck battles. This has been the achilles heel of the canucks because they play too predictably. They must infuse unpredictability to all aspects of their game in order to reach the level required to win the cup (unpredictability in passing, skating, attacking, battling 1v1 downlow to get the puck away from the opponent, etc). Unless the cycle around the outside is somehow an unbeatable tactic, it is obvious that any one strategy team will eventually be shut down in the playoffs.

Edited by Forsy, 25 January 2013 - 02:14 AM.


#32 Smashian Kassian

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:10 AM

Yes they're all good skaters but not one of them are close to Ehrhoff. That guy could go end to end with ease and skate right back in position without being caught. Bieksa has been caught so many times up ice with not enough gas in the tank to get back, and Edler although a good skater, if he pinches he can't accelerate as fast back as Ehrhoff could. As for pairings, I understand Edler and Garrison may take time to gel but Tanev and Ballard have been together for over a year now, Bieksa and Hamhuis have been together since Hamhuis has been here so there are no excuses there.

I understand that injuries hampered their play against Boston, but if you watch the goals Boston scored in that series you can obviously tell how many times our defence were caught. Often by a big hit in the offensive zone or our defence getting checked and tangled up by their forwards, leading to odd-man rushes against. I haven't witnessed that many odd-man rushes against in a series before and it's because of our defencemen pinching when they really shouldn't have. We did not play a sound defensive game in that series at all, and all our pinches were exploited by Boston's fast forwards in particular, like Peverley, Marchand and Krejci who tore us apart. Their big forwards broke our small agile defencemen down, then their small guys scored on them by outskating them when they were caught out of position.

Obviously we crapped the bed against Los Angeles, but again look at the goals they scored there. Plenty of odd-man rushes against, which is the result of their coaches exploiting our defence getting caught up ice. Once again, their big bodies contained our defencemen quite well, but they had the speed up front to capitalize on our poor defensive positioning.

Simply put, this run-and-gun defence works great in the regular season when there is more open ice. Yes it succeeded all throughout 2011 but really peaked during that San Jose series - after that we were never as successful again and it's been 2 years since that success. During the playoffs however, forwards check much more closer, checking is tighter, there's less ice out there and so any mistake caused by poor positioning can lead to goals against. It's simply not how you win in the playoffs and the coaching staff have to figure that out.

Exactly, New Jersey played a sound defensive game, Florida was free-wheeling from the back-end and the solid defence triumphed. Defence wins championships, it won one against us in 2011, swept through the playoffs in 2012 and it will win another win this season.

As for those teams, St. Louis have never played that way. Do you watch their games at all? Their defence rarely jump up in the rush, but more importantly their forwards collapse back and they play a very tight all-around defensive game, from forwards to defencemen which is impressive to watch. It's a modified trap, they basically hang around until the opponent make a mistake when they pounce, but score off a very aggressive forecheck as well - very similar to how L.A won the Cup last season. I've never seen one of their defencemen leave his position and just skate end-to-end unless on the powerplay (when Peitrangelo will often skate around and pass from the half-boards).

Detroit have a MUCH better overall defensive strategy than the Canucks - their forwards play similarly to St.Louis in that they collapse back to help their defencemen, plus they never skate around as much as the Vancouver defencemen. Similarly to Ehrhoff though, when you have an excellent guy like Lidstrom on the blueline as well as Rafalski it works perfectly, but now that these guys are gone they cannot keep it up.

San Jose is a good example of what the Canucks are doing wrong. Yes, they free-wheel and their defencemen like Vlasic and Boyle are always joining the rush and going deep, but likewise they get caught. They have great regular season success because of the open ice allowing their D-men to do what they want, but come playoff time they're getting torn apart by solid defences and have never had much playoff success.

Once again - to win in the playoffs you need to play tight defence, not this rubbish wide-open offence from the defence. History has repeated these very words and it will happen again in a few months time.


Ballard is a better skater, aside from that I agree, Edler might have the same speed, but not the acceleration, and Bieksa is in the same boat as Eddie but he isn't as fast, and Hammer is the complete package of both speed and acceleration IMO, just not at the level of Hoffer.

Eddie and G-5 have only been better shortly as you say, and once they gel I think that will be better with Garrison than it ever was with Ehrhoff, Ballard and Tanev have been together and I thought they played great in the playoffs, and I thought they played great last night, and even the prior game against Oilers they played well IMO.

I don't know that what you are saying is accurate, I mean if the Bruins speed was a great advantage, with bigger guys it would only exploit our defense more, and I don't think our defense is small and fragile, I think aside from maybe Sami, Tanev and Ehrhoff everyone else brought/brings a good dose of physicality, grit, toughness and durability, exc. Don't see that as a problem. Also don't think there were many odd man rushes until the game was out of reach, at that point the team is done for and mistakes are a write off.

And against LA it was coaching, the PP failed and they picked it apart and scored shorthanded alot, that's not defensive style, that's the coaching staff not changing the PP strategy that is as clear as day, even in the series, I don't think it was pinching, look back at the goals that were short handed, not very many or none of them were cause by a bad defensive strategy, Raymond made a terrible play, Kopi sniped, Brown was left open by the center and the defensemen, in game 5 there was a pile in the crease and they scored, and Hamhuis fell, most of the goals in that series we not due to pinching, and it was our entire team that was terrible, can't pin it on just the defense.

Again, it peeked against SJ because we were healthy, and I think no matter what you judge besides goaltending that the 2012 playoffs have to be written off, I don't think that is a good way to judge any specific thing aside from coaching, goaltending and the team in general because no one was emotionally invested, no one came to play, and we were missing our best player. That's why it is much more accurate to make a judgement on the 2011 playoffs, where we came to play and were at our best, and that style worked very well until we were too unhealthy too continue.

My Point with STL and DET is that these teams are like us in that they have puck movers, and guys that can play in all situations, and they have success, that's what you need to be successful, we need to adjust our strategy a bit but we can't overhaul it, that will affect us offensively and defensively and I don't see anyway we can do that and gel in time to have a solid run.

Make changes to play less risky, not overhaul the entire thing, as that is a critical component to our success.

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#33 Smashian Kassian

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:13 AM

DP

Edited by Smashian Kassian, 25 January 2013 - 02:14 AM.

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#34 King Heffy

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:18 AM

I'd be happier with them picking their spots better. Take into account who is on the ice and what the score is.

I also see far too many d-d passes on the PP that almost end up in a breakaway.

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#35 vwnuck

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:48 AM

It doesn't matter who's in net, as we've seen against Boston, Los Angeles and even early in this season, you can be the best goalie in the league but if a defence craps the bed in front of you, you're going to let in goals.

For example, last night, Bieksa pinches, 2-on-1 and Tanguay scores on Schneider. Go back to the Edmonton game, Edler is caught pinching in one play, then gets spun around by Eberle in the next for not being back deep enough and both plays result in goals. Even look at the first game, plenty of horrible turnovers and Schneider gets shelled.

Then back to the Los Angeles series, the series-ending goal sums up what I'm talking about. A defenceman gets caught up ice, Stoll rushes in on a two-on-one in overtime and just clean beats Schneider on a shot.

It doesn't matter how good our goaltending is, if we play poorly in front of them and give up glorious chances any team will capitalize on them. Meanwhile, a couple of average-to-slightly-above-average goalies like Halak, Elliot and Harding look like the worlds best because they play behind a solid defensive team.


well i started to kinda think you had a point until i looked at the video.... you are totally wrong about the loss to the kings.. hamhuis was on his way up the ice salo went to change hamhuis got hooked by lewis. stoll stole the puck.. salo stayed back when hamhuis went down 2 on 1, kings score game over... but nice try saying it was a pinching d...

and the bieksa pinch you are wrong there... he was going to pinch to keep puck in, decided against it..but was back and had his guy... luo was just beaten by a good shot.. and it wasn't like he was joining the rush he was trying to keep the puck in the oiler end. again nice try.. oh and edler not being deep enough just shows you have never played before in you life.... what happened was edler got caught flat footed by a faster skater and got turned around it has nothing to do with being deep enough... if they followed your advise and stayed deep forwards would just come in and shoot...

and i just want to point out we went to game 7 of the stanley cup... we must have been doing something right. the only reason we lost was we blew games 3 and 4

Edited by vwnuck, 25 January 2013 - 04:04 AM.

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#36 Bodee

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:40 AM

Going back the last few seasons, AV has changed the Canucks defensive system from one of a complete trap style (especially successful in the 06-07 season) to one where defencemen jump up in the rush, take risks, pinch often and go deep in the offensive zone.

This new system worked well for us in the 2011 campaign and during the playoffs as teams weren't able to anticipate our attack and our forwards cycled perfectly back to defend when our defencemen were caught up ice in the rush.

However, this is NOT how you win a Stanley Cup in today's NHL. AV and Rick Bowness need to change our system back to a much more conservative defence, and here's why. The biggest reason it worked well in 2011 was our personel - Edler, Bieksa, Ehrhoff and Salo are all perfectly suited for that style of play, especially Ehrhoff who really lead the way. However, this style also lead to our downfall against Boston, as they exploited our smaller, faster defenders and often caught us on odd-man rushes where they would victimize us and capitalize on our mistakes.

Now look back the last 2 seasons. Boston won a Cup over us with solid, stay at home defence. Their defencemen never jumped up in the rush but always hung back which is why we couldn't score against them. Their defence didn't make many mistakes and that's how they won. Then look at Los Angeles, and even New Jersey. The only real offensive threat there was Doughty - all the other D-men sat back, played physical shutdown-hockey and that's how they won games all season and playoffs long. But it's not just a personel issue, Sutter and Julien play a very defence-first minded hockey game and that's what stymied other teams. Defence first, then offence through capitalizing on opponents mistakes, and that's what won them the Cup.

Here we are in 2013 and once again the Canucks are already being victimized for their stupid defensive system. It's been 3 games and our defencemen are being caught up ice, caught pinching at the wrong time and getting scored on for being out of position because they're trying to join the rush. Sure, we get a bunch of goals from defencemen, but more are being scored on us which will kill us come playoff time. Goaltending is not an issue on this team, and we have decent depth at forward now to score without defencemen needing to jump up in the rush. Plus, our personel are far better suited now to play solid stay-at-home defence than they were before with Garrison and a flourishing defensive stud in Tanev.

Meanwhile, the real defensive stalwarts will challenge for the Cup this season. St. Louis is coming off their 2nd shutout of the season already but it's not because of their goalie. They included a 13 and 14 save shutout which just shows how well the whole team plays defence in front of their goalie. Aside from Peitrangelo, St.Louis don't have many stars on their blueline, but it's Ken Hitchcock's defensive style of play that is winning them games and will do so in the playoffs as well. Similarly, New Jersey is playing solid defence once again despite having no stars on their back-end which just shows the importance of the defensive coaching. Minnesota have always been a great defensive team, and now with Suter to help out they will be a force come playoff time because of the lack of mistakes they make.

So in short, for us to contend in the playoffs we need to adopt a similar, defence-first mentality and scrap this "offence from the defence" idea. We don't need defencemen jumping up in the rush every shift to score from the blueline, just let them shoot and sit back. Defence first wins cups. I'd much rather watch solid positional and sound defensive hockey and win a Cup than watch nervous, end-to-end hockey and get kicked out in the 1st round again.


Spot on, I agree entirely and have been saying the same thing for a couple of years. I have also said the reason we got away with it for the last couple of years is Luongo.
However when the goals dry up and the injuries accrue in the playoffs you can't LEAVE IT ALL TO LU.

Also, I think we employ the tactic because of offensive weakness. We are not big enough up front to make space and hold the puck (other than the Twins who do it by sheer skill) so we constantly pinch.

Edited by Bodee, 25 January 2013 - 04:45 AM.

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#37 CodyHodgson's #1fan

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 06:51 AM

Agree, I've noticed (how can you not) Bieksa pinching down A LOT latley, which i love it when he does, but that right winger NEEDS TO COVER HIM
I don't know how they decide to leave hammer all alone and allow the opposing team with so many chances with odd man rushes with all the canucks deep in the offensive zone
Always will love and support Cody Hodgson, great player, great potential great character, and I don't care about those stupid rumours about the trade. And we lost him, what a dissapointment. Love you COHO, forever a canuck in my heart!

One day Luongo will raise Lord Stanley's cup.
And show all those haters that he is the amazing goalie that he is.
No matter what jersey he wears, I will always be cheering for Luongo.

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#38 ice orca

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:26 AM

It doesn't matter who's in net, as we've seen against Boston, Los Angeles and even early in this season, you can be the best goalie in the league but if a defence craps the bed in front of you, you're going to let in goals.

For example, last night, Bieksa pinches, 2-on-1 and Tanguay scores on Schneider. Go back to the Edmonton game, Edler is caught pinching in one play, then gets spun around by Eberle in the next for not being back deep enough and both plays result in goals. Even look at the first game, plenty of horrible turnovers and Schneider gets shelled.

Then back to the Los Angeles series, the series-ending goal sums up what I'm talking about. A defenceman gets caught up ice, Stoll rushes in on a two-on-one in overtime and just clean beats Schneider on a shot.

It doesn't matter how good our goaltending is, if we play poorly in front of them and give up glorious chances any team will capitalize on them. Meanwhile, a couple of average-to-slightly-above-average goalies like Halak, Elliot and Harding look like the worlds best because they play behind a solid defensive team.

Its called rust almost every game i have watched this year the offences have a foot up on the defence-goaltenders as the others have said give it a few games fo the defence to gell. Btw how is that great LA defence you always remind us of doing this year.

#39 Zack_Kassians_Elbow

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:57 AM

I suggested this in another thread. The canucks with this current line up would be better suited to play a defensive style of hockey.We have strong goaltending and defense and should play to our strengths. As of now we have no second line and can't really afford to run and gun with other offensive powerhouses. Now when booth and kes return we have some firepower and can revert back to our old system.

#40 BigRedMachine

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:03 PM

I question whether we have the personnel to really play a defensive style. AS much depth as we have at defence, we don't really have a shutdown defensive pair. And most of our forwards are offensive nondefensive-minded.

#41 timberz21

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:42 PM

Pinch, go deep and take risk is NOT a defensive system LOL. It's an offensive one.

#42 Jester13

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

I've been thinking this exact thing for a long time. Our D is too offensive. They get caught all the time and leave our goalies (plural) high and dry. +100 OP great thread and read.

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#43 thehamburglar

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:55 PM

I agree somewhat and also don't agree. We need that scoring from our backend. Have you seen our trouble scoring lately and through the SCF? Without D-men trying to add offense we'd be in even more trouble.
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#44 Ray_Cathode

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

Going back the last few seasons, AV has changed the Canucks defensive system from one of a complete trap style (especially successful in the 06-07 season) to one where defencemen jump up in the rush, take risks, pinch often and go deep in the offensive zone.

This new system worked well for us in the 2011 campaign and during the playoffs as teams weren't able to anticipate our attack and our forwards cycled perfectly back to defend when our defencemen were caught up ice in the rush.

However, this is NOT how you win a Stanley Cup in today's NHL. AV and Rick Bowness need to change our system back to a much more conservative defence, and here's why. The biggest reason it worked well in 2011 was our personel - Edler, Bieksa, Ehrhoff and Salo are all perfectly suited for that style of play, especially Ehrhoff who really lead the way. However, this style also lead to our downfall against Boston, as they exploited our smaller, faster defenders and often caught us on odd-man rushes where they would victimize us and capitalize on our mistakes.

Now look back the last 2 seasons. Boston won a Cup over us with solid, stay at home defence. Their defencemen never jumped up in the rush but always hung back which is why we couldn't score against them. Their defence didn't make many mistakes and that's how they won. Then look at Los Angeles, and even New Jersey. The only real offensive threat there was Doughty - all the other D-men sat back, played physical shutdown-hockey and that's how they won games all season and playoffs long. But it's not just a personel issue, Sutter and Julien play a very defence-first minded hockey game and that's what stymied other teams. Defence first, then offence through capitalizing on opponents mistakes, and that's what won them the Cup.

Here we are in 2013 and once again the Canucks are already being victimized for their stupid defensive system. It's been 3 games and our defencemen are being caught up ice, caught pinching at the wrong time and getting scored on for being out of position because they're trying to join the rush. Sure, we get a bunch of goals from defencemen, but more are being scored on us which will kill us come playoff time. Goaltending is not an issue on this team, and we have decent depth at forward now to score without defencemen needing to jump up in the rush. Plus, our personel are far better suited now to play solid stay-at-home defence than they were before with Garrison and a flourishing defensive stud in Tanev.

Meanwhile, the real defensive stalwarts will challenge for the Cup this season. St. Louis is coming off their 2nd shutout of the season already but it's not because of their goalie. They included a 13 and 14 save shutout which just shows how well the whole team plays defence in front of their goalie. Aside from Peitrangelo, St.Louis don't have many stars on their blueline, but it's Ken Hitchcock's defensive style of play that is winning them games and will do so in the playoffs as well. Similarly, New Jersey is playing solid defence once again despite having no stars on their back-end which just shows the importance of the defensive coaching. Minnesota have always been a great defensive team, and now with Suter to help out they will be a force come playoff time because of the lack of mistakes they make.

So in short, for us to contend in the playoffs we need to adopt a similar, defence-first mentality and scrap this "offence from the defence" idea. We don't need defencemen jumping up in the rush every shift to score from the blueline, just let them shoot and sit back. Defence first wins cups. I'd much rather watch solid positional and sound defensive hockey and win a Cup than watch nervous, end-to-end hockey and get kicked out in the 1st round again.


First of all, it was injuries and an unearned suspension that killed us against Boston - Kesler's hip after virtually carrying the team on his back through the first rounds, the injury to Hamhuis - then Edler's broken hand in the last two games - after already having a D suspended - we lost because we ran out of healthy players. Now if Kassian can turn into our version of Lucic, then we just might be able to play them again - especially with Garrison instead of Salo.

#45 Canuck Surfer

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:57 PM

Don't look now, but with Manny out today and possibly Lapierre we just might? :bigblush:
Hey, this is a good topic, it would also be worth considering if Kesler were out a longer period than we expect. As noted, we do miss Erhoff somewhat; his puck carrying style enhanced our game even if Edler scores just as much. We also miss Torres, who created a brutal fore check, with size barrelling in on defenders and punishing them. That then caused turnovers for our speed and talent to pounce on. But we really lost to Boston on physical match up problems and players breaking down under the duress which then caused tactical match up break downs. The Twins started taking defensive draws, and were out of puff for offensive ones. We need more Torres's, not less. We would have lost anyway; the same match up problems remain relevant.

You slow down the game when you feel you have less talent than your competitor, not more. This limits the opportunities where better talent exploit you, and feeds physical match ups to become more prominent. Ultimately, that's just not what we want. We're not changing styles.

:sadno:

Plus our near future includes Schroeder and Jensen, who compliment our current modus operandi.

MG just needs to continue to close the deal on more complimentary pieces like Kassian and Garrison, maybe trade a D for an Erhoff replacement!

Edited by Canuck Surfer, 25 January 2013 - 04:03 PM.


#46 clutesi

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:16 PM

I understand how defence wins, but I would rather watch exciting hockey. I'm not dropping $100 + to go to a game and watch a bunch of plugs line up across their goal line.

#47 WHFproductions

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 06:29 PM

Not saying Presidents trophy mean more then the Stanley Cup, but winning 2 in a row mean your doing something right and when you play a certain style for an 82 game season your not going to change it in the playoffs, we've been successful in the past and hopefully we're successful in the future but as long as AV and Rick Bowness are here, I doubt our defensive strategy is going to change.

#48 bossram

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:29 PM

First of all, it was injuries and an unearned suspension that killed us against Boston - Kesler's hip after virtually carrying the team on his back through the first rounds, the injury to Hamhuis - then Edler's broken hand in the last two games - after already having a D suspended - we lost because we ran out of healthy players. Now if Kassian can turn into our version of Lucic, then we just might be able to play them again - especially with Garrison instead of Salo.


I agree with this. It was never the system. The system was never the problem. At certain points we haven't had the personnel to execute the system properly due to.....injuries. We lost to Boston because we ran out of healthy bodies. It's tough to win with our system if you have weapons like Hamhuis, Samuelsson, Raymond out and Kesler, Edler, Ehrhoff, Higgins, Henrik, Bieksa, Malhotra all playing injured.

Same thing in LA. Not having a 100% Kesler severely hampers this club, as it would any team who loses a player of his calibre.

Sometimes you need some luck to win. Everyone does. Its how it goes.
What is the deal with Mike Gillis, it always seems like he's sweating...




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