Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Let me tell you guys a story...

Not long ago, a very familiar hockey team was entering its season with many questions hanging over its shoulders. Many thought this team's best days were behind it and few believed the season to come would see the team improve. Nonetheless, bolstered by its recent addition of one of the league's best goaltenders, the team decided that a focus on strong defensive play was it's best chance at sucess. This approach paid off, and despite a lackluster offensive year from its captain and star player, and the fact that it was in the bottom third of league scoring, this team had a pretty damn good season, finishing with over 100 points and winning its division before being knocked out in the playoffs by the Anaheim Ducks.

The next season, however, the team began to take its offensive defficiencies to heart. Despite the fact that its defensive style was paying off the team decided they needed more scoring and traded one of its main defencemen for a fairly prominent forward as well as adding a few other minor offensive names through additional trades. The team's offence certainly improved, and they finished the season in the top-10 in league scoring. Regardless of this, however, the team's record worsened considerably. Instead of 3d they finished 8th in their conference, barely squeaking into the playoffs and making a quick exit once they got there.

As many of you may have realised by now(either through blazing inteligence or because there's a picture of Darryl Sutter at the bottom of this post), I'm not describing the 06/07 Canucks and making my prediction for what will happern with them next year. I'm describing the Calgary Flames' last two seasons. I'm doing this because, in my own long-winded and kind of douchebagy way, I'm trying to make two points:

1. Holy shit the 05/06 Flames and 06/07 Canucks' seasons were similar.

and, more importantly

2. When your team's able to win consistently through defense, having a bad offense may not be a flaw, but rather the price you pay for your solid defensive play. The object of hockey isn't to score goals, it's to win hockey games. If you can win every game 2-1 then who cares that you're averaging 2 goals per game as a team and you're last in the league in scoring. Whatever you have going it's working, and trying to tinker with a winning formula just because you're not scoring so much may end up doing more harm than good.

Look what happerned to the Flames. They excelled at the defensive side of the game and despite their mediocre offense they were one of the best teams in the league. Then they decided that they weren't scoring enough, so they'd better trade some of their defense for some scoring and instead of improving they ended up damn near missing the playoffs.

It's easy to look at the stat sheet and go "Hey we're third in the league in goals allowed, but our offence is 22nd. If only we could score some goals we'd be unstoppable", without keeping in mind that if you change things around to try and score more goals it's pretty damn likely that you'll be allowing more goals too, and the end result may not necessarily be more wins for your team. So, to get to the final point of my post, let's hope that Dave Nonis keeps the Calgary Flames in mind before he goes off trading Ohlund or someone else in search of more scoring.

And, since I couldn't think of any other picture to go with this post, here's a shot of Daryll Sutter. For extra effect you can pretend he's saying "Nooooooooo! I knew bringing in Tanguay and Husselius would do more harm than good!" or some such thing.

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