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Morning Line- Steve Yzerman

“I want to be the team with the puck, and when you have the puck, it’s hard to hit guys. I don’t see physical teams or teams taking runs at us as an issue at all. This league is not about running guys anymore. And the word heavy — that’s the word of the day in the NHL, heavy and light. Our guys play hard. I’m more worried about our special teams, honestly, then about playing heavy teams.’’

-Steve Yzerman, GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has more from Yzerman regarding the Bolts season.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: steve+yzerman

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I think there’s some truth to this - the idea of “heavy” gets overrated and guys like Tatar and Nyquist - who certainly aren’t heavy - can succeed through tenacity. The one thing I’ll say is that Yzerman’s Lightning haven’t had to play seven against Boston or LA. I think playing a series against a “heavy” team might demonstrate to Yzerman that there’s a little more to it than ripping it up during the regular season with a somewhat “light” team.

That said, I think as the league evolves, speed and skill will continue to root out the emphasis on heavy players.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 01/22/15 at 10:17 AM ET

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Have to agree with the previous comment.

From a Tampa fan’s perspective, and as much as I love and respect Stevie Y, (analytically- defined) success may not be predicated on being “heavy” anymore, but that doesn’t mean that desperate teams who have it in their DNA (Philthy?) to do so aren’t going to come out and try to push you around and (sometimes) maim you, on any given night - Or, at least regress to doing so, when called upon to “simplify” their game.

It’s another “tool in their toolbox” - One which Tampa is lacking, perhaps by reason of it being an acquired “blind spot”.

And that speaks to balance - One lacking on a Lightning team that can’t seem to get out of their own way when it comes to the sugar-overload (of diabetic seizure proportions) embodied by their “finesse” style of puck-movement.

Teams lacking “heavy” as a leveling attribute tend to become polarized toward “dangle”; to the point of an almost impotent self-indulgence in the process (puck-possession) that loses sight of its’ ultimate purpose (scoring goals.)

Besides, the Bolts further contribute to their own woes in this regard (not specifically by being undersized or “soft” - though they are those things, to varying degrees - but) because they have an ineffectual powerplay (see above: self-indulgence.)

If “heavy” teams aren’t made to pay the price (on the scoreboard) for suffering an over-reliance on “heavy” then they will continue to engage in borderline play to their advantage, and the argument supporting “heavy” among those of a certain mindset, will continue to have traction..

Finally, in a league now driven by an emerging (though somewhat skewed) paradigm that relies almost exclusively on offensively-driven proxies, there has yet to be developed a balance that effectively incorporates defensive metrics, and that’s where “heavy” perhaps still retains its’ rightful place in the game - In the paint, in the corners, along the low-boards - Playing the man. “Heavy” counts a great deal, when playing the man. It speaks to a greater degree of control; absent puck-possession. What do teams do to successfully regain the puck?

Ultimately, fast-transition and puck-possession have been proven highly desirable in the successes they embody - They all but define today’s emerging game. But, not to the degree (yet) that can lay waste to the adage that defense secures championships, and possession-driven teams are still more successful, when supported by (a healthy balance of) “heavy”.

Ask any Stanley Cup winning coach.

Posted by icehound on 01/22/15 at 11:58 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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