One factor that is often a constant on a successful NHL Stanley Cup winning squad, is an exceptionally skilled defenseman on the blue line.
This is not a new revelation; it is a constant that has been in place since “Rovers” were skating on teams in arenas across NHL cities nearly 100 years ago. In the last fifty years, only a few teams were lucky and skilled enough to raise Lord Stanley’s cup without the prototype offenseman on the team.
Eddie Shore, King Clancy, Red Kelly, Doug Harvey, Pat Stapleton, JC Trembley, Bobby Orr, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Denis Potvin, and Paul Coffey, Chris Pronger, and Scott Neidermayer stood out especially in the playoffs where they added a new dimension to the offense and made plays at critical points in the series.
A dominating fourth forward gave their team a edge and the cup on many well documented occasions.
The legend continues with the Detroit Redwings future hall of famer, Nick Lindstrom, and 2010 Norris Trophy winner Keith Duncan.
Only the two-time cup champion Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes, in recent memory, had no one single defenseman who displayed the exceptional talent and leadership ability that players like Orr, Potvin, Coffey, and the others showed during the playoffs.
That is not to say Philadelphia and Carolina did not have a solid defense corps.
The Flyers had Ed Van Impe, Andre DuPont, Joe and Jimmy Watson, Tom Bladon, and Barry Ashbee who all played solidly and aggressively against the offensively gifted Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres.
The Bruins had Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito while the Sabres roster included Gil Perreault and the French Connection.
The underdog Hurricanes beat a highly skilled Edmonton Oiler team with Veteran Glen Wesley, Frank Kaberle, Aaron Ward, and Oleg Tverdovsky.
As the new season approaches and training camps gets underway most general managers and coaches will be taking a close look at their defenseman.
All of them are aware of the importance of that key performer to the fortunes of their team in the regular season and the playoffs.
It is highly likely that the team with premiere defensemen such as, Nick Lindstrom, Duncan Keith, Chris Pronger, Mike Green, and Drew Doughty stand a chance of advancing far into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Let’s have a look at some of the best playoff defensemen of all time and a few who will likely make a impact soon.