Surprise: NHL Teams Like To Run Defense Like The Devils

For 20+ years, hockey fans of teams other than the NJ Devils have complained about the Devils stifling defense, complaining that it was “boring”. Well, yeah, when the Devils are routinely shutting down your team and limiting their offense, I can understand. TS. Anyhow

The decline of the shot-blocking, crease-clearing defenseman

There is perhaps no skill in hockey that is more misunderstood than shot-blocking.

It is often times seen as a key foundation to great defensive play, while players and teams that rack up large numbers of them are praised for their commitment to defense, toughness, and willigness to sacrifice for the good of the team. That is all party true. It is at times a necessary part of defensive zone play. But the teams that win the most games often find themselves blocking the fewest shots overall, an observation that often times gets misrepresented as “shot blocking doesn’t matter.” And that is not at all true.

What matters is consistently putting yourself in a position where you don’t have to block shots. If your team is constantly having to defend its own zone and consistently step in front of shots then it is probably doing a lot of other things wrong that are eventually going to hurt you, and that leads us to one of hockey’s great mythical beasts, and a role that is continuing to have less and less importance in the NHL.

This is exactly what the Devils have been doing since their rise in the early 1990’s. In all fairness, the neutral zone trap was developed by the Montreal Canadians, and exported to the Devils through all the links to those great Canadians teams. What this mean was stop the team in the neutral zone, keep them from getting deep into the offensive zone. Bottle them up. Why do you want to give teams a crack at your goal? Make them work for it. Keep things on the perimeter. Funny how so many teams now are doing the same things the Devils have been doing, eh?

Well, if you put a couple of defensemen out there whose only real skill is to collapse around the net to try and move people out or stand in front of shots, that is just one (or two) more bodies that your goalie has to try to see through. I think a lot of times goalies would prefer that unless the defensemen on the ice is going to definitely prevent the shot from getting through that they just get out of the way and allow them to do their jobs instead of creating even more traffic in front of the net.

Again, a big thing with the Devils. Marty Brodeur always preferred that the D get out of the way. Leave the shot lanes open. Funny how so many teams are emulating those oh-so-boring Devils, eh?

Of course, based on the play of the Devils over the past 6-7 years, I’d prefer the Devils emulate the Devils.

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3 Responses to “Surprise: NHL Teams Like To Run Defense Like The Devils”

  1. John says:

    NJ is one game out of last place

  2. gitarcarver says:

    NJ is one game out of last place

    John, once again you show how clueless

    The NFL works on points to determine rankings. The Devils are closer to 5 place than they are to last place.

    This is just another post were you came trolling and displayed your ignorance of the subject matter.

  3. NJ is one game out of last place

    Gotta love John. Instead of discussing the material posted, he has to be inflammatory. Probably a Rangers fan

    And, correct, GT, he probably doesn’t even understand how the NHL works. At 42 points, they probably have no chance to make the playoffs. They would have to make up 16 points, at this time, to make it into the top 3 in the Metropolitan (I hate the new names). Doubtful they can even make up enough to be a wildcard. One source gives them a .4% chance of making the Playoffs. However, they have a lot of home games in the second half, and a much better coaching situation.

    That said, they aren’t making it. But, John doesn’t understand the points system, and Carolina and Buffalo are much, much worse. He should stick with soccer.

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