Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/15/12 at 02:45 PM ET
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The senior adviser to the Chicago Blackhawks can trace it back to the 1979 playoffs when he was coaching the powerful Montreal Canadiens. Roger Neilson, the innovative head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, saw his team swept by the Habs in the previous year and wanted to avoid a repeat.
The Canadiens relied on their Big Three defencemen, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe, to control the puck along the offensive blue line and get it to highly skilled forwards like Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire.
The key to success, Neilson figured, was to forget the traditional defensive game of having your wingers cover the defenceman on each point. He wanted them closer to the net, or down low, as the coaches say, checking the Canadiens forwards hard so the puck never made it back to the point.
“That’s kind of the theory they try to do now,” Bowman said Tuesday morning. “There’s two guys out at the point and if you think about it, the defensive team has five guys nearer the puck and the other team has only three. They’ve got three forwards and the two defencemen are out on the blue line.”
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