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Kings coach Sutter says teams don’t defend, they possess the puck

Mar 10, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

Darryl Sutter Getty Images

When it comes to Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter, he’s usually viewed as a coach who will opt to have his team defend the puck at all costs, even at possible detriment to his offense.

In speaking about new acquisition Marian Gaborik with Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, he turns that notion on its ear with his thoughts on what he feels the NHL is like now.

“The game’s changed. They think there’s defending in today’s game. Nah, it’s how much you have the puck. Teams that play around in their own zone they they’re defending but they’re generally getting scored on or taking face-offs and they need a goalie to stand on his head if that’s the way they play,” said Sutter.

We won’t go digging into advanced statistics and scare you away with numbers, but it boils down to a basic thought that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock got known for when they won the Stanley Cup in 2008. If you have the puck, the other team won’t and that means they can’t score.

Seems like a simple plan, but it’s one that works and when it’s played to perfection it’s a stifling, dominating way to play hockey. Just look at Team Canada in the Olympics who ran Babcock’s ideal kind of game to the letter.

So next time you think a team is being “trapped” to death or they’re “sitting on a lead” they might just be playing keep-away and making you pull your hair out just the same.

  1. tfilarski - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    what’s that saying? the best defense is a good offense?

  2. runhigh24 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    That 2008 Red Wings team might have been the best of the cap era. Teams would spend their entire shift chasing the puck, only to get it and immediately have to dump it and change. Rinse and repeat.

  3. Wineshard - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Please don’t let hockey turn into soccer. That is why a SMALLER ice surface is better IMO – less opportunity to play keep away.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Are you saying that because of the scoring? Scoring doesn’t always equal excitement, but Dead Puck guarantees the the lack of it.

  4. jpelle82 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    every team tries to do it. some are obviously better than others. even 10 years ago you didnt see the kind of posession play you do now. i dont mind it as much as i used to, i used to yell at the tv telling them to get it in the zone or move the damn puck. i appreciate a calculated retreat, good line change, and then a good entry into the zone vs a dump and change giveaway every other shift. teams were just surrendering possession because they needed a line change way too much, especially with a lead. makes no sense to keep dumping it in and giving it up over and over just because you have a lead. you can kill more time by pulling it back into your zone, making a couple passes, and then moving it back out than if you send one guy in on a forecheck dump-in while every one else changes. percentages are lower that you get the puck back that way until the other team has already gained your zone. thats why its so important to have a couple fleet footed puck movers on your blue line, they have to be able to escape if pressured.

  5. joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Wow! We go round and round. We haven’t learned anything new here. Go back to the six team era when the teams that had the most success were the ones who were strong offensively and played well when they didn’t have the puck. Not an original concept by any means.

    No matter how much offensive talent a team has they still need to be able to shutdown the opposition. Strong neutral zone and d zone play by all 5 players and a very good goalie. How much freaken talent is wasted today with the chip and chase? Long passes from your own zone to a player “having coffee” at the opposing blue line to touch pass the puck deep and fore-check. We’re not in the most entertaining era because the removal of the red line has given way to the chip and chase.

    • jpelle82 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      i dont think anyone wants the two line pass back in play

      • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        Yeah! I don’t think so either. But we’ve taken away some creativity from the players/teams who use it. It’s pretty boring, and defies the notion of puck possession and the idea that your offense is the best defense.

      • jpelle82 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        i think the intention of the 2 line rule elimination during the 04-05 lockout considerations was to make the game faster and more exciting. the teams and coaches have just evolved with it though, rather than gaining the red to dump it, teams just station a winger on the opp blue line to chip it in. you still see plenty of icings because they miss the chip and i think that evens out with the number of times a team was called for 2 line passes (which wasnt any more often than icing in my opinion). its a wash as far as whistles and def zone faceoffs go in my opinion. i’d be interested to see an actual number on how many breakaways were gained with the rule change but i dont know if those numbers would ever be available if they were tracked. with a lot of things in life, people in general will just adapt to the rule and still find a way to play how they want to within the restrictions placed on them.

  6. comeonnowguys - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    In other (not) breaking news: The team with more hits usually doesn’t have the puck. The team that has the puck has a better chance of scoring.

    I think we may have found one of the cornerstones of the Kings’ offensive struggles.

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      The Kings are also the best possession team in the league. They manage to hit a ton while also having the puck more than the other team. They’ve just had very bad puck luck, much like in 2012.

      • blomfeld - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        “They’ve just had very bad puck luck, much like in 2012” ?

        Listen Guitar Dude, two significant events happened in 2012:

        1) the world did ‘not’ end as predicted by the Mayans

        2) we Kings ‘stormed’ to supreme victory smashing everyone in the process !

        The bottom line is E=MC2 and there’s no getting away from it. You have a rink size from 1865 coupled with a ‘modern day’ player whose size, speed and strength is growing ‘exponentially’ from year to year. LOL ! … virtually ‘anyone’ in the NHL today could take a Howie Morenz or Eddie Shore from yesteryear and snap them in two like a match stick ! What we have today is essentially a ‘pinball’ game where ‘5 on 5’ puck possession rarely exceeds 3 seconds … and even that’s pushing it. As my friend Stransky says … “any finite body absorbing ever-increasing inputs of energy, ultimately creates stress which ultimately leads to a point of critical mass breakdown”. So in going forward, either the NHL … 1) increases rink dimensions … or 2) reduces player’s caloric intake with mandated ‘prison-styled’ diets !

      • jpelle82 - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        been a long time since such rational thought has warranted a thumbs up from me blom. looks like you’re having yourself a monday, keep on keeping on sir

      • blomfeld - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        Comrade Labelle … the sun’s shining here and I’m off to the golf course shortly ! :)

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