Stanley Cup and Canadian Olympic team champion coach Mike Babcock describes what it takes to win at the highest level in commenting on his team's second consecutive Gold Medal run:
- "Great defense means you play defense fast and you have the puck all of the time."
There is more to good defense, but in the modern game, perhaps nothing quite as important as speedy blue liners who maintain puck possession - because they go get the puck and don't give it up with sloppy play, turnovers, and excessive dumb penalties.
Clearly, Babcock's assertion above - made in response to questions about how dominant the Canadians were defensively, and what were the keys to their great defensive play in ensuring Team Canada successfully defending its 2010 Gold Medal victory last weekend in Sochi - represents some of his core beliefs, values embodied by his teams - and perhaps never more so than in the person of recently retired Red Wing great Nick Lidstrom.
What bothers me about McPhee and his tenure in Washington is his failings at finding, acquiring, and developing defensive players who would make a defensive-minded coach like Babcock grin. I think Carlson mostly makes the grade, and George deserves credit for drafting him. But Alzner, as solid as he is, really isn't speedy - and not very physical, issues that subtract from his ability to excel at puck possession.
And with Green's tough year, where his scoring has been very lacking here in the 13-14 regular season, we really don't have all that much else on D - here, in the kiddie corps players shuffling between Washington and Hershey, and in the organization writ large. Orlov, a former 2nd rounder, seems to have the most potential among the bunch.
What do others think? Do McPhee and Oates ultimately have to go (and likely Ovie in a trade, probably to some loaded team where he'll get a Cup late in his career) for the Capitals to put together a defensive minded club like Babcock has coached - both in Detroit and with Team Canada? Are others, like me, fed up with the regular season run and gun antics of Ovie and company that largely get shut down in the postseason given fewer power plays in playoff hockey?
Would like to know others thoughts on this.