The Detroit Red Wings are an incredibly talented team with the league's best defenseman, Nicklas Lidstrom. They have the scoring power, the shutdown defense, and two veteran goaltenders in Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood.
The team should be able to play wide open, exciting hockey.
But they don't—and that's why they can't be allowed to win the Cup this year.
Detroit plays a puck possession game. Simply put, they don't allow the other team to possess the puck. They don't take big slap-shots from the point because it could bounce off of a leg and onto an opposing player's stick.
They don't make cross-ice passes because even well executed passes can be picked off, or the receiving player could miss the puck.
It's a BORING way to play the game.
I love to watch good, defensive hockey with big hits, or wide open in-your-face offense. Heck, I don't even mind watching New Jersey play the trap for the last 20 minutes of a 1-0 hockey game.
What I hate is a game in which there are almost NO shots taken on the goalies. Here are some recent examples:
Game 1: Dallas at Detroit—Dallas amassed only 21 shots on goal, below their season and playoff average.
Game 2 : Dallas at Detroit—Dallas managed only 18 shots. Detroit put 34 pucks on net, but half were to the torso of Marty Turco. Such saves are easy and usually let the goalie freeze the puck.
Game 3 : Detroit at Dallas—Dallas held to only 18 shots on goal again. The two teams fired only 39 shots.
I could go back further, but I don't see the need.
The threat doesn't lie with Detroit, oh no. They're just the catalyst. Nearly every year the Stanley Cup winning team is emulated the next season.
Tampa Bay won with three talented speedy forwards. The next season teams focused on a "money line" of speedy skaters and small, quick players with breakout years (a la Daniel Briere).
Anaheim won the 2007 Stanley Cup with strength and a hard checking style. This season, the Philadelphia Flyers returned to the days of the "Broadstreet Bullies." They amassed the most suspensions in the League. Fighting numbers have even elevated as a result of the Ducks' gritty play.
So, if Detroit wins with their "take no chances, but strike when we're sure to get a goal" style, chances are history will repeat itself. Next season teams will be trying to emulate the puck possession game.
In short, Detroit's puck possession game is good for their chances of winning, but bad for fans of the game of hockey.
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