NHL

RESCH: What's wrong with a defensive system?

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Why is Pat Burns upset with people questioning whether his defensive system is possibly hindering the ' goal-scoring? Is it that many don't realize the simple fact that everyone else doing the same thing he's doing (at least the good teams)? Wherever one works, especially in a longtime business, he/she eventually understands the foundation, the work ethic, the approach and strategy that has brought that business along. Burns is inheriting, and continuing, the ' foundation, which was in place long before he was there. It's a defensive style that won the team its first Stanley Cup. As long as Lou Lamoriello is there, he will hire people and coaches that think the same way he does. Honestly, there are always exceptions. In a decade, you could always point to two or three teams who defy the law of "defense first" winning hockey games and championships. If you're not one of them, you're dreaming to think you can win consistently without having a strong defensive system. All the winning teams are practically playing the same style of defense as the do. In their own zone, teams will collapse one or two of the top forwards down to help out. So you basically have five defending players from the top of the circle to the goal line against three attacking forwards. When I played, defense was more man-on-man, rather than the zone defense there is now. If one player could beat another player one-on-one, then he could take it to the net. But when you're playing zone, there's a safety to pick up where one guy gets beat. It's kind of like playing football or basketball. The 1-2-2, or 'The Trap', is used by practically everybody.

Goal-scorers don't grow on trees

The thing about lack of goal-scoring, which I understand as a former goaltender is, there are a few gifted players who have that natural ability to put the puck in the net. It's not something that's taught. It's something that's self-taught when players are 5-10 years old, whether it's shooting accurately or turning the body to get in a position to shoot. The are a hard-working group that needs to throw a lot of pucks at the net to score goals. They're not like the old Edmonton , nor is there a perennial 40-goal scorer on the current roster. Even a guy like , who's a gifted playmaker, is not a great finisher. And most of the other players, like , have had some big numbers at one point or other in his career. But Joe is 36 now, and he's not as dangerous as he was at 26. When was playing his best hockey, he was part of a three-man attack with the old A-line. There are some players like , and who, individually, can score 30 goals playing with whomever. Most guys need to work in combination with others. Some writers thought Burns was a little sensitive in feeling his methods were being attacked. But they were trying to get the point across that the need a sniper or two that needs to be traded for. I would say from now to the middle of February, Lamoriello will be evaluating this team's ability to score very closely. They're tied for first place, so many are probably saying, 'How bad can it be?' But I also know the goal of Lamoriello and Burns is to win a Stanley Cup and not just finish in first place or win a couple of playoff rounds. This team can compete with anyone, but I think for them to have an edge and say, 'We ARE the best team in the East', they need someone to arise from here on in to be their 30-plus goal-scorer. They still have tremendous strength on the blueline. , and can play the power play for the full two minutes if they needed to, and they're starting to make changes on the man-up where the 'D' are switching positions so they can one-time the puck, which is starting to make a difference. But constant trade talks starts to break teams down, especially when there's no production. Then again, you look at guys like the Isles' , who had been in trade rumors, but then started to pile up points. If you're hearing tons of rumors while not scoring, it tends to become distracting. The names you always see being dealt away from the are and . But how are you getting ahead by trading your most gifted goal-scorer and playmaker, especially with some of the names mentioned as the return? You don't need two average players if you're trading a gifted one. The need to go the other way and get a gifted player for two average ones. Otherwise, will the trading of your best forwards logically give the more firepower? Down the stretch, teams out of the playoffs or teams that have unrestricted free agents will be looking to do something, so we'll see what happens. Lou will probably have to wait for those types of scenarios to happen. A former National Hockey League goaltender who spent fourteen years playing and an additional six seasons as a coach and scout, Glenn ¿Chico¿ Resch brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the broadcast booth. Since 1996, he has served as analyst for New Jersey telecasts on Fox Sports Net. Chico's column appears regularly on MSGNetwork.com.
Tagged: Stars, Devils, Islanders, Penguins, Canucks, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Scott Niedermayer, Patrik Elias, Brian Rafalski, Roman Hamrlik

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