In today’s NHL, is the best defense a strong offense?
The panthers The defense is suspect at best, even with a healthy one Aaron Oakleaf. But this team is built to let its firepower lead the way. That’s what worked for Florida last regular season, as one of the best rushing teams in the league. As much as the Panthers conceded, they could pile up the goals to take a lead or generate enough offense to spark a comeback.
It was a live by the blade, die by the blade style that really worked for the team, all the way to the playoffs. Not because that strategy failed them, exactly. Rather, the team began playing with the idea of playoff hockey it should to be. While their opponents’ defensive efforts also deserve credit, Florida didn’t get a chance to show if that style would work when the stakes were higher.
This year’s Panthers team is built a little differently. The defense is weaker since then MacKenzie Weegar moved to Calgary, and there have also been changes behind the bench. But given the blue line, even when Ekblad returns, should Florida try to play a forward and hope its best defense is a strong offense?
That’s it for today NHL start asking, in general?
The idea of making offense a priority isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. The basic concept of hockey revolves around one team outscoring the other, whether by five goals or one. But it differs from the idea that defense wins championships. It’s more of a low-event mentality, one that emphasizes strong, strong defense to limit shots and scoring chances against them. For defense to win championships, a team must outlast their opponent with their defensive efforts. Teams like the 2011 Bruins and 2012 Kings that managed to win while adopting this mindset inspired others around the league, as champions always do.
However, this philosophy has holes. It’s only very useful if a team can’t get its own offense together. And in today’s game, with goals up, that’s it beautiful important
A more proactive approach is needed, but to what end? Can a team with enough firepower create even at the expense of their defense?
Coming out offensively doesn’t necessarily make a team a contender. It helps, but if they give that much or more off their backs, they’re really just a big event team. Ask the senators. Ottawa they may top the league in expected goal generation in all situations with the results being equal, but they still allow a high rate of chances and goals behind and are subsequently bottom of the standings.
The best defense tin to be a high-powered offense, but this offense also requires some defense. Perhaps the mistake is to think that each works as a separate concept.
Puck possession is often thought of as an offensive opportunity, and it is, but there’s a difference between that and just having firepower. Controlling the game requires defense i crime working together. That’s what the current model team, the current Stanley Cup winner Avalanche, had to win last summer. And that was enough to make up for the caliber of their goaltending that fell below average for much of their playoff run.
This defense isn’t just about playing at one end of the ice. Nor is it simply about controlling gaps, positioning and limiting the offensive. Defense involves the team’s full effort back in its own zone, from when it first crosses the blue line, until a team finds a way back out, and everything in between. This includes stick checks, takeaways and general puck recoveries to turn the game, as well as control plays to get out of the zone. It features a unit of five players who work together, and defensemen often step in to support their teams up the ice.
To be a dominant possession team and begin to overwhelm with scoring chances, a team must turn defensive plays into offensive sequences. But the defense doesn’t stop there. There is an essential job when a team has also control to maintain it, such as protecting the puck and maintaining the blue line to maintain offensive zone time.
It might not be the traditional defense that comes to mind most immediately, but that’s what it takes in today’s game to be a legitimate offensive force, and not just a team that finds itself on a lane between rush opportunities.
The teams that thrive on this should be the ones that find themselves at the top of the standings as the year goes on, rather than the ones that only have strengths at one end of the ice. These are the teams that will be in a good position to create scoring chances while being stingy in their own end versus those who find themselves on offense controlling the majority of the game. That should help a sustainable foundation lead to success like Colorado had last year.
In the early years of 2022-23, some teams are starting to show signs of it. The Bruins they have a strong offensive attack, and they don’t allow much behind. And that should only get better when Charlie McAvoy back to the fold
The Golden Knights, in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, are showing how well they can control the game. This is a top-five team in their expected goals-against percentage in five-on-five. The more this team takes their chances, the more dangerous they will be.
Devils fit in here too, surprisingly. The Devils lead the league in shooting, expected goal and five-on-five field goal percentage through their first stretch of games. The team is not only creating the rush after getting the pucks back, but pressing the cycle. The the devils Puck control is isolating their goaltenders as opponents can’t challenge them if they don’t have the puck in the posts. The only question is how the team keeps it up as their schedule gets tougher down the stretch.
So what about the Panthers? Once the team is healthy, Florida will need to find a way to maximize its offensive ceiling among its five-man units. Instead of just taking away assets for players who can check the “defensive” box and bring attributes that seem to be lacking, the focus should be on players who can expand offensive opportunities and change plays when the team is down to your account end The Panthers’ ability to create quality chances is so important to his success, the rest of his game just has to support him better.
Teams in today’s NHL need to be versatile, adaptable and proactive. This means thinking bigger than playing at one end of the ice as the best way to succeed. In order to drive the game and excel in the scoring, which is the key to winning games, there is an element of team defense necessary to build a sustainable offensive base. With that said, the best defense is legitimately a strong offense that is set up by dominating the possession game.
(Top photo: Kiyoshi Mio/USA Today)
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