Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beyond the 1-3-1: Other NHL team defensive systems

What's the difference between a hockey
puck and Mike Richards? The Flyers will
honor a no-movement policy for the puck.
The latest NHL controversy surfaced during Wednesday night's action. Although in fairness, "action" probably isn't the right word.

Early in a game between the Lightning and Flyers, Tampa Bay settled into their patented 1-3-1 defensive system which sees all five skaters take up passive positions in the neutral zone to break up an incoming attack. The Flyers responded by refusing to advance the puck - their defencemen simply held the puck in their own zone.

The result, predictably, was a farce. The game ground to a halt, the officials were forced to repeatedly blow the play dead, and the fans who thought they had paid to see an entertaining game made sure everyone involved knew that they weren't happy. Now there's talk that the league needs to outlaw Tampa Bay's system.

But why single out the Lightning? After all, they're not the only team that employs a specific defensive system. In fact, these days most teams have their own unique ways of keeping the puck out of their net.

Here are just a few of the team-specific defensive systems currently in use around the NHL.

Boston Bruins - Attacking forwards are met in the neutral zone by a winger who attempts to use lateral pressure to direct them towards the far boards as they cross the blueline, at which point Zdeno Chara unhinges his jaw and devours them.

Columbus Blue Jackets - Winger Rick Nash forechecks deep to apply pressure, then follows the defencemen around for the rest of the shift frantically begging them to convince their general manager to trade for him.

Nashville Predators - As soon as opposing players break into the offensive zone against Pekka Rinne, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber casually skate to the bench and let Mr. Moneybags back there handle it.

Calgary Flames - Opposing players entering the attacking zone are told of the details of the Dion Phaneuf for Matt Stajan trade, and then spend the rest of the game standing around trying to figure out how that ever seemed like it would be a good idea.

Winnipeg Jets - They always make sure to give the other team that one controller where the pass button gets stuck ever since somebody spilled a beer on it.

Phoenix Coyotes - Moment before the opening faceoff, Paul Bissonnette logs on to his Twitter account and retweets some random fan because it's their birthday; for the rest of the game, the other team is distracted by their overwhelming desire to grab him by the shoulders and scream that hockey players really need to stop doing that.

New Jersey Devils - Opposing forwards breaking in on Martin Brodeur are funnelled along the side wall towards a time machine programmed for 2004.

Toronto Maple Leafs - Are experimenting with a brand new never-before-tried system called "Prevent goals by not letting players on the other team elbow our only decent goaltender in the head and ruin our entire season".

Detroit Red Wings - Opposing forwards are periodically told "Hey, you know that Nicklas Lidstrom is on the ice, right?" at which point they immediately give up and go home.

Ottawa Senators - Players entering the offensive zone momentarily observe the level of effort being exerted by Sergei Gonchar, at which point they assume the play must have already been blown dead and they just didn't hear it.

Los Angeles Kings - Have recently found that politely asking Jonathan Quick not to allow any goals that game usually works.

Montreal Canadiens - Don't really have a system; just assume the other team will be tired out from having to constantly skate around the dozens of injured Montreal players that inevitably clutter the ice by the end of every game.


  1. Ouch, I took a hard hit with that Montreal one... Sign me up for the team!

  2. "let Mr. Moneybags back there handle it"

    Ohhhh...It's funny because it's true.

  3. I remember the 5-0-1 defense being very popular in the '80s.

  4. I was expecting something for Nikolai Khabibulin. Shame. Oh well. This was pretty fantastic.

  5. I snorted on the Ottawa one. Good thing I was not drinking anything at the time!

  6. Great post as usual, but I was expecting something today that would be a tribute to the 2nd best Leaf ever (after Wendel), Doug Gilmour, as he enters the HHOF! Hope that is coming!

  7. Its a great plan by the Coyotes because you will have to wait until the end of the game to even find Biz Nasty considering he is a healthy scratch most games.

  8. Nashville: Hilarious.
    Phoenix: Funny cause it's true.
    Toronto: Ouch!

  9. as a habs fan that one hurt because it's true... but funny none the less

  10. I just love the canadiens system!

  11. Hey, the Canadiens DO have a system -- its called Jacques Martin's patented "a two-goal lead is insurmountable so we can stop trying to score."

  12. The ones that made me laugh the most were easily Detroit and Ottawa. I would give up too if I heard Lidstrom was on the ice!!

  13. once again the caption is the best line