Defense - Is it Really About the System or the Talent?

Defense is more than just the level of skill in the guys playing. It is a system. Then I started thinking about other teams that have good defense...
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  1. Kamiccolo

    Kamiccolo Proud Leafs and Hurricanes fan

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    So what put me on this thought train was actually talking with some Ducks fans about Gibson and how he has really been their MVP. I made the point that if their defense was so good, why do they need their goalie to stand on his head night in and night out? The point was made that the talent is irrelevant. Particularly, it was this comment that got me thinking (Hope it is ok that I quote you @HanSolo ):

    https://hfboards.mandatory.com/threads/john-gibson-41-save-shutout.2553005/page-2

    "It's because a defense is more than just the level of skill in the guys playing on the blueline. The problem isn't that Anaheim's young blueliners aren't as good as people think. The problem is Carlyle's defensive systems are stuck in the past and he doesn't hold his forwards accountable for half assed defensive efforts."

    I cut the quote off here because this is the relevant part. Defense is more than just the level of skill in the guys playing. It is a system. Then I started thinking about other teams that have good defense but don't see the results

    Calgary - In the bottom half of the league for GA last season despite having several very good D.
    Carolina - Again, in the bottom half of the league despite good D.
    Tampa Bay - Stacked blueline with a really solid goalie, yet middle of the pack defensive team
    Colombus - Only 2 less goals against than Toronto despite having a Vezina goalie and a stacked young blue line

    Then I started thinking about the opposite

    Vegas - I really don't think their D is that amazing. Yet they were a top 10 defensive team last year
    Dallas - A team known for being really poor defensively got a defensive coach and the defensive issues went away

    Even some other teams who had the least GA had goalies who faced a TON of shots against like the Jets for example.

    So my question is - HOW much is the game about how TALENTED the defense is, and how much is about the SYSTEM in place? With Forwards, they are either good or they are not. It is very easy to see their talents and abilities. I don't feel defense is the same way. Using Toronto as an example, their forwards blow the zone right away and when you watch a team like Boston, their forwards play way deeper in the zone and give puck support to the defense.

    How does this impact our perception of talent? Are we more biased to say that a team has a better defense when in reality, they play a system that actually supports the D? How do we differentiate the difference between talent and system?

    I feel the ultimate example of this is Dallas.

    2016 - 2017: 2nd worst in GA
    2017-2018 7th BEST in GA

    How does a team with nearly the same players go for such a wide swing in results? The difference appears to be all in the system the coach uses. For example, how does a D go from a really poor defensive team where they looked poor, and then in a new system look like a much better system?

    Does anyone have data on high scoring chances against? I am curious to see if this data lines up with GA, or if it shows these teams with good defense but poor GA/SA as the better defensive teams? OR does it match what we see with GA?
     
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  2. Strakanator

    Strakanator Registered User

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    Defense in this new era is mostly about having really fast forwards that pressure the puck everywhere on the ice. Quick puck pressure in all zones causes turnovers. Having fast defensemen to scoop up turnovers helps also.

    I bet a team of the fastest skilled guys in the league could finish first with no real defensive system... If you win all the races and challenge the puck constantly, you don’t need a system.

    The league is still transitioning, but looks completely different than 3 years ago. Most NHL teams still have multiple slower players signed to contracts. The GMs reacted years after everyone saw the dramatic changes in the league.

    Now speed rules, and all the slower players are being pushed out if the league. Positioning is secondary. If you pressure the puck quickly, and win most of the races, you win hockey games in the new NHL.

    Once all the slow players are pushed out, we will likely see a major re-emphasis on systems, as the teams/players will be more equal speed-wise.
     
  3. JoeThorntonsRooster

    JoeThorntonsRooster There is no anti-Leafs bias on HFBoards

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    It’s some of both but the 2015-2016 Penguins show that it sure has a hell of a lot to do with the system and that you can get by with less than elite personnel.
     
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  4. maacoshark

    maacoshark Registered User

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    I agree. Its more about the system. You could throw all the best players in the world together and they might not win if the system wasnt any good.
     
  5. lwvs84

    lwvs84 Registered User

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    Purely from a team defense standpoint, I think a system can overcome lack of talent (to a degree) but a lack of system can still leave the goalie all alone. Talent seems more important for scoring goals than keeping the puck out of the net since the defense always has an extra man (the goalie) backing them up. To be truly successful, you need both... but you can mask a lot of problems with a good system.
     
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  6. Apotheosis

    Apotheosis Registered User

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    System more than talent, but both of them compound each other in to making them better.
     
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  7. ijuka

    ijuka Registered User

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    It's largely about the system. Much more so than offense. A lot of it is that defense is simpler and more intuitive in general, it's a lot more learnable. For offense however, if you aren't a special talent, you're not really going to "get it" in the same manner. Many of the less talented players tend to be good at defense, simply because they've learned to work hard over the years and with hard work, defense can be almost perfected, while offense cannot.
     
  8. Hattrick Kane

    Hattrick Kane Registered User

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    System is the most important, but don’t discount what a top 5 dman can do in a well implemented system.
     
  9. PuckItUp27

    PuckItUp27 Registered User

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    The Isles have pretty medicore defensemen however played ZERO system under Dead Weight last year and allowed the most goals along with having the worst PK in the league.

    So far under Troz we have allowed 5 Gs in 3 games and are 8/8 on the PK.

    Small sample size but I have always felt good defense is more about the system than talent.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  10. X66

    X66 Registered User

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    It's both, but system more.
     
  11. BAM

    BAM Registered User

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    Having 6 mobile d-men that can all skate very well and transition the puck to the forwards in as little time as possible is the new NHL, Vegas showed it. You don't need a bunch of Norris candidates to have a good defense, it's all about how the forwards puck hound and the d-men transitioning the puck out of their zone. The best defense is the one where you rarely have to spend time in your own zone.
     
  12. Strait2thecup

    Strait2thecup Registered User

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    Use the islanders as a case study this season
     
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  13. paragon

    paragon Registered User

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    It's about system and not just for defense, but also offense.

    Look at Ovechkin under Hunter barely getting 30 goals vs Ovechkin under Oates winning the Rocket. Look at Crosby and the Penguins under Mike Johnston versus Mike Sullivan. Panthers playing for Gallant were better on both ends of the ice and now look at Vegas outperforming their roster on paper. Look at Vancouver between 2013-2016. 2013-2014 they were 28th in goals for with Vigneault. He was fired and they hire Tortorella and most importantly Mike Sullivan as an assistant coach. Next season they were 6th in goals for and then they were fired and they go back to 29th in goals for. Minnesota was a middle of the pack offensive team with Yeo and with Boudreau they finished second in the league. Look at Dustin Browns points with Sutter: 29, 27, 27, 28, 36 and then Sutter was fired and John Stevens hired, back to 61 points.

    Toronto's offensive stat lines could look a whole lot different with another coach. Roy managed to make MacKinnon look like a 50 point player. Make no mistake, there are coaches able to stifle even Matthews.
     
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  14. SotasicA

    SotasicA Registered User

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    Defense has always been a team effort and a system that everyone follows helps defense more than offense.

    For the most part you can always tell who is the most talented player. But a system especially helps the worst players on your team. If they buy into the system, and work as a cog, they will look like decent hockey players. It's like a step stool.

    The measuring stick of a defensive system could be the worst d-man, the #6-#7 guy. Around the league those guys are roughly the same level of talent. But on some teams the bottom pair guy looks like crap, and on others the same player can be a legit NHLer. There are no truly "bad" players in the NHL. Some coaches just have a good system, and the players execute it well. Even a marginal NHL player can do well.
     
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  15. ESH

    ESH Registered User

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    Obviously the system is important. It’s the players who have to play in it though. It seems silly to discount the players’ abilities because they play in a certain defensive system. The “system” isn’t making defensive plays for the players; they still have to stop the other team from scoring themselves.
     
  16. nb2928

    nb2928 Registered User

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    You need talent to run an efficient championship system. Without talent, you're not gonna get a good system.
     
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  17. my name is Bob

    my name is Bob Registered User

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    System 100%.


    See, trotz(Washington or NYi) and see Calgary.
     
  18. migi

    migi Registered User

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    For me last season I had Hawks Dmen better than Vegas. And what happened.

    Team effort which comes with the system. Hawks had so freaking good team defence in 2015.
     
  19. Bounces R Way

    Bounces R Way Feaster's Beasters

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    Despite what people seem to believe I'm not so sure there's really such a wide variety of systems in the NHL. There are differences yes, some even pretty noticeable, but I think it's more about how well those systems fit the talent you do have and how well that talent buys in to said systems that ultimately decides whether you have success or not.
     
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  20. Monsieur Gustave H

    Monsieur Gustave H Coming Home

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    I think it's about that elite #1 that cups just seem to follow around, then system, then depth. System includes forwards.
     
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  21. bigtim1988

    bigtim1988 YES! YES! YES! YES!

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    more about the system, and the coaches that employ said system.

    I think certain coaches are better at getting their players to play their system, while others aren't that effective.
     
  22. GreatGonzo

    GreatGonzo Registered Derp

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    You need the right type of players to
    Make a solid defensive system work regardless. Not every team can be a power house shut down style, you need players from top to bottom that are willing and ready to be within a system where they have a job, and to excel at that job.

    A team with a solid system in place can beat any team full of All Stars or just have elite talent overall. Teams like Florida and Buffalo in the late 90s proved this, while recent teams like Vegas showed all of us that with the right system, work ethic, and drive....you can beat anyone.
     
  23. Canada Drai

    Canada Drai Dwemer Remix

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    Scoring is going to stay pretty high this year IMO because of the attacking attitude of both offensive and defensive players. Goaltenders are going to be left out to dry, in a monsoon.

    It makes sense if teams are trending towards the passing, breakout defensemen teams will score more but also be scored on more as those types of players tend to be weaker defensively unless they are some of the top players.
     
  24. Future GOAT

    Future GOAT Large double-double and a box of Timbits™.

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    A combination of both.
     
  25. HappyGilmourr

    HappyGilmourr Registered User

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    When Warren Buffet invests in a company he doesn't look at the value of the stock first; but the systems of the company he is buying.

    I think this system thing is the key to life. I'm obsessed with systems. Especially after I burned a $100,000 on start ups with poor systems lol

    But yes. Systems is a huge component, with the right mix of talent of course. You need the right players to buy in to your system as well.
     

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