Author Topic: The Defensive Logjam  (Read 18978 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline herman

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 7844
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
The Defensive Logjam
« on: July 29, 2016, 04:56:03 PM »
Carrick > Marincin
I'm of the opinion that defensive structure is more teachable than offensive instincts.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 10:03:55 AM by herman »

Offline Coco-puffs

  • Rookie
  • ***
  • Posts: 883
  • TMLfans Rocks!
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2016, 05:18:58 PM »
I'm not sure I follow why you'd expose the Righty over the Lefty?  The right side is definitely our biggest question mark moving forward, so keeping Carrick over Marincin makes more sense to me all else being equal.

To be honest I think both guys are so low-ceiling that issues of left/right should be secondary to just which player you think has more of a long term future.

Which is why I qualified my statement with all else being equal.  At this point, Carrick has a higher ceiling, but more risk/uncertainty.  Marincin is who he is IMO... defensively dependable, shot suppressing 4-6 defense-man with no offense to his game.  This season will go a long way to say who has the better long term future with the team.

Offline Nik the Trik

  • Sittler Status
  • ******
  • Posts: 21723
  • Some Guy On a Message Board
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2016, 05:42:53 PM »
Carrick > Marincin
I'm of the opinion that defensive structure is more teachable than offensive instincts.

Doesn't that sort of suppose that playing defense is just a matter of structure rather than the same combination of structure, instincts and physical attributes that offense is?
Give a man the reputation of an early riser and he can sleep 'til noon
-Mark Twain

Offline Tigger

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 6368
  • You can play
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2016, 07:45:38 PM »
I'd expose Marincin due to Carrick's offense and feisty play but the margin is not very wide right now.
"My father was born shortly after the Wright Brothers" Charlie Duke

Offline herman

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 7844
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2016, 08:12:20 PM »
Carrick > Marincin
I'm of the opinion that defensive structure is more teachable than offensive instincts.

Doesn't that sort of suppose that playing defense is just a matter of structure rather than the same combination of structure, instincts and physical attributes that offense is?

It's still an opinion I'm in the process of refining, so I appreciate your take on it, as well as anyone else's thoughts or experiences playing/coaching.

Offensive defensemen get paid more. Offensive defensemen get Norris votes. The league values two way play from the backend.

My thesis is that offensive instincts (in the realm of defensemen for this discussion) are more valuable because they are less replaceable by mere coaching (positioning, structure). I don't really have numbers for these as it is in the thoughts out loud stage.

Offensive success from a defenseman means things like zone entries, quarterbacking the offence from the blue line, and putting up points. Doing those things well, from what I've seen, requires creativity and skill on top of the instincts ingrained from coached positioning and structure. Structure and positioning is really only designed to breakdown the defending structure and generate attempts.

Defensive success would be breaking up transition plays, preventing zone entries, and preventing/fouling up shots on net. A lot of that can be accomplished by just being in the right place at the right time. Of course instinct and skills come into play here. Clearly some defenders are better at naturally forcing attackers to their backhand, or matching speeds to close the gaps without getting turnstiled.

What do you guys think?

Offline caveman

  • Rookie
  • ***
  • Posts: 969
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2016, 08:56:53 PM »
the current trend is to fast offensive d-men who join the attack regularly...it's worked well for some teams...

Offline Nik the Trik

  • Sittler Status
  • ******
  • Posts: 21723
  • Some Guy On a Message Board
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2016, 03:56:23 PM »
It's still an opinion I'm in the process of refining, so I appreciate your take on it, as well as anyone else's thoughts or experiences playing/coaching.

Offensive defensemen get paid more. Offensive defensemen get Norris votes. The league values two way play from the backend.

I think that's indisputably true although it's not limited to defensemen. Putting the puck in the net, or the contributing to the puck going in the other team's net, is the rarest and most valuable skill in the league and the guys who are the best at it are the most highly valued in the league regardless of the position they play.

This is a side note but when it comes to Norris voting I think there's been a slight shift regarding a certain multi-time Norris winner where it used to be that perennial Norris winners or contenders like Bourque or Pronger or Lidstrom were, as you put it, excellent two-way defensemen now it seems to be that we're valuing one way defensemen in a way that we didn't used to. Whether or not that shift is a real reflection of a better understanding of value in terms of actually contributing to victories is unclear.

My thesis is that offensive instincts (in the realm of defensemen for this discussion) are more valuable because they are less replaceable by mere coaching (positioning, structure). I don't really have numbers for these as it is in the thoughts out loud stage.

Like I said above, I think they're more valuable because they're scarcer but I don't know if I buy that they're more teachable necessarily. We've certainly seen players come into the league and improve as defenders but we've also seen players come into the league and improve as offensive players. Usually, though, we attribute that offensive development to players physical and mental development but we attribute the defensive development to coaching. I'm not sure there's a lot of evidence for either narrative. 

Offensive success from a defenseman means things like zone entries, quarterbacking the offence from the blue line, and putting up points. Doing those things well, from what I've seen, requires creativity and skill on top of the instincts ingrained from coached positioning and structure. Structure and positioning is really only designed to breakdown the defending structure and generate attempts.

Defensive success would be breaking up transition plays, preventing zone entries, and preventing/fouling up shots on net. A lot of that can be accomplished by just being in the right place at the right time. Of course instinct and skills come into play here. Clearly some defenders are better at naturally forcing attackers to their backhand, or matching speeds to close the gaps without getting turnstiled.

What do you guys think?

I think that there are lots of offensive and defensive skills that are refined with experience. When is a good time to join a rush or the ability to effectively pinch on a play. I think those things are effectively parallels to the sort of coaching/structural concepts you're talking about. They're going to be learned at different paces and they're going to contribute to a player being on the ice for a larger percentage of goals scored on an opponent. I think the same is true of a lot of defensive things too.

A player that comes to mind as an example is Zdeno Chara. In his first four or five years in the league he produced at Marincin like levels offensively before eventually becoming one of the better offensive defensemen in the league at his best. He obviously also had a tremendous defensive refinement to the point where once Pronger fell off a little he was probably the single best defender in the game.

Obviously a coach can't teach Chara's size or strength but he still needed proper coaching and refinement to become the HOF calibre player he became in both ends. Hockey smarts develop over time and, provided they're paired with physical ability, those manifest themselves in all facets of the game.
Give a man the reputation of an early riser and he can sleep 'til noon
-Mark Twain

Offline McGarnagle

  • Veteran
  • ****
  • Posts: 1256
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2016, 07:19:40 PM »
What do you guys think?

My experiences coaching (albeit with the caveat that at a level which doesn't allow my opinion to be anything close to weighty) - is that creativity is often on display in a defensive role- in reading a play, an effective first pass, etc, etc. The only problem is that it doesn't hit the eyeballs like a play that leads directly to a goal.

Slighty OT, but I find there's still the prevailing attitude from a lot of coaches in coaching younger players that appropriate "defense" means taking no chances and chipping the puck off the glass nine out of ten times - which basically dooms a developing player to a one dimensional game. Anything but a simple play on D is glaring and inexcusable, even though forwards routinely turn the puck over in the pursuit of a scoring opportunity, and develop as a result of realizing that creativity. I remember having one of my sons move from D to forward simply to get out from under a defensive black hole of "safe" no-skill required hockey insisted upon by the coaching volunteers.

ln terms of the norris voting, I think it is weighted to offensive statistics because a) it highlights exciting players that grow the ratings and the game - rather than reward an equally dynamic but less optically sexy skillset in goal prevention/puck transition and b) I think a lot of voting community don't really do much more than look at the stat totals and mix in a few personal biases. Regardless, for the most part, the best shutdown D are often also up there in terms of offensive stats, simply because the same skillset allow them to excel in both ends of the ice.

As per Marincin vs Carrick, I couldn't even fathom which is more valuable than which - Marincin had a much longer look with the Leafs than Carrick, and looked very comfortable in the back half - and Carrick looked good with the club as well, but his best play was with the Marlies, which doesn't mean a great deal to me, anyway. I don't get the impression that Washington gave up a huge piece of their future with Carrick, or than Marincin's ceiling is above a #4, but it's good to have competition.

Offline herman

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 7844
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2016, 09:22:25 AM »
That's a good deal to mull over. Thanks, Nik and McGarnagle. I'll add thoughts as they arrive.

Offline herman

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 7844
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2016, 09:30:34 AM »
Some thoughts, now that I have an actual keyboard:
Putting the puck in the net, or the contributing to the puck going in the other team's net, is the rarest and most valuable skill in the league and the guys who are the best at it are the most highly valued in the league regardless of the position they play.

[...]

I think they're more valuable because they're scarcer but I don't know if I buy that they're more teachable necessarily. We've certainly seen players come into the league and improve as defenders but we've also seen players come into the league and improve as offensive players. Usually, though, we attribute that offensive development to players physical and mental development but we attribute the defensive development to coaching. I'm not sure there's a lot of evidence for either narrative. 

[...]

I think that there are lots of offensive and defensive skills that are refined with experience. When is a good time to join a rush or the ability to effectively pinch on a play. I think those things are effectively parallels to the sort of coaching/structural concepts you're talking about. They're going to be learned at different paces and they're going to contribute to a player being on the ice for a larger percentage of goals scored on an opponent. I think the same is true of a lot of defensive things too.

Your note about the value/rarity of offensive ability rings very true to me, as do the points I highlighted with the quote.

The narrative that is playing in my head is that offense requires creativity; there is structure and formation (ha) that can breakdown defenses, but ultimately, there is a lot of individual skill and talent required to put the puck into the net.

Defense, on the other hand, while requiring tremendous physical skills to pivot and skate backwards and spatial awareness to not get clobbered on retrievals, is like playing Not It in a game of Tag: there are a lot more win conditions and they're generally easier to achieve, largely by being in the right place a the right time, which, to my mind is the realm of coaching, (easily refined by experience).

The story that really prompted me to think that was when Holland talked about his initial struggles on the Penalty Kill, and how he admired Winnik being able to basically play all 2 minutes routinely. Winnik showed him how he positioned himself on the PK more efficiently and that was all Holland needed. Of course that is only one anecdote (that I can't find the source of) from a team with terrible special teams.

Offline herman

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 7844
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2016, 09:35:02 AM »
My experiences coaching (albeit with the caveat that at a level which doesn't allow my opinion to be anything close to weighty) - is that creativity is often on display in a defensive role- in reading a play, an effective first pass, etc, etc. The only problem is that it doesn't hit the eyeballs like a play that leads directly to a goal.

Slighty OT, but I find there's still the prevailing attitude from a lot of coaches in coaching younger players that appropriate "defense" means taking no chances and chipping the puck off the glass nine out of ten times - which basically dooms a developing player to a one dimensional game. Anything but a simple play on D is glaring and inexcusable, even though forwards routinely turn the puck over in the pursuit of a scoring opportunity, and develop as a result of realizing that creativity. I remember having one of my sons move from D to forward simply to get out from under a defensive black hole of "safe" no-skill required hockey insisted upon by the coaching volunteers.

This is a really good point. Coaching tends to overvalue safety on defense, rather than generation. The safe play is much easier, but is still a guaranteed turnover without the probability of the reward of scoring.

Watching Gardiner blossom now that he is out of Carlyle's shadow (or in spite of spending time there) has been invigorating.

Offline Frank E

  • Veteran
  • ****
  • Posts: 3279
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2016, 09:53:39 AM »
My experiences coaching (albeit with the caveat that at a level which doesn't allow my opinion to be anything close to weighty) - is that creativity is often on display in a defensive role- in reading a play, an effective first pass, etc, etc. The only problem is that it doesn't hit the eyeballs like a play that leads directly to a goal.

Slighty OT, but I find there's still the prevailing attitude from a lot of coaches in coaching younger players that appropriate "defense" means taking no chances and chipping the puck off the glass nine out of ten times - which basically dooms a developing player to a one dimensional game. Anything but a simple play on D is glaring and inexcusable, even though forwards routinely turn the puck over in the pursuit of a scoring opportunity, and develop as a result of realizing that creativity. I remember having one of my sons move from D to forward simply to get out from under a defensive black hole of "safe" no-skill required hockey insisted upon by the coaching volunteers.

This is a really good point. Coaching tends to overvalue safety on defense, rather than generation. The safe play is much easier, but is still a guaranteed turnover without the probability of the reward of scoring.

Watching Gardiner blossom now that he is out of Carlyle's shadow (or in spite of spending time there) has been invigorating.

I don't think that's a fair representation of the Gardiner and Carlyle situation.  I recall us crediting Carlyle with developing Gardiner, throwing him out there in many situations, and he got better...so much so that they gave him that long-term 5 year contract I thought prematurely. 

I know there's a fair bit of Carlyle hate around here, but I don't think he failed Gardiner.  Carlyle gave Gardiner a long rope.

Offline herman

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 7844
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2016, 10:14:32 AM »
I don't think that's a fair representation of the Gardiner and Carlyle situation.  I recall us crediting Carlyle with developing Gardiner, throwing him out there in many situations, and he got better...so much so that they gave him that long-term 5 year contract I thought prematurely. 

I know there's a fair bit of Carlyle hate around here, but I don't think he failed Gardiner.  Carlyle gave Gardiner a long rope.

I was making a (hyperbolic) blanket statement about the defensive coaching under Carlyle ('safe' plays), so you're right in calling me out for that.

Offline Misty

  • Prospect
  • *
  • Posts: 36
  • Gender: Female
  • Thanks dad
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2016, 11:09:55 AM »
Some thoughts, now that I have an actual keyboard...

On the other hand, what tends to separate the truly exceptional defencemen from the rest is (to my mind) not as coachable:

- ability to read and anticipate plays developing: positioning can be taught to give you a better chance of breaking up a play, but you still need to evaluate the situation to gauge the most likely passing lane to be ready for, etc...over time that will improve naturally with situational experience, but some people just seem to be innately better at it than other (that "hockey IQ" that scouts rave about in certain prospects)

- speed/coordination/reflexes/strength/endurance: all of which can be developed or enhanced via training programs, nutrition, repetition (specialized coaching) but all of which still seem to have underlying genetic attributes

I expect that players with exceptional abilities in most of the above are going to see those advantages reflected at both ends of the ice, though. Very hard to know where they'd be more visible, although I remember commentators constantly marveling at Lidstrom's ability to tip/deflect pucks that people tried to chip past him, or always being in just the right spot to break up a play in front of the net.

Offline WhatIfGodWasALeaf

  • All Star
  • *****
  • Posts: 6484
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2016, 02:09:48 PM »
Giordano spoke recently about how it takes a lot of players 2/300 games of actually playing in the NHL before they are able to accurately read the movement of elite forwards and predict how the plays are going to unfold. He has spoken to a lot of his peers apparently and this seems to be the general consensus for the majority of guys who don't break into the league as stars from the jump. Some guys basically figure it out and if they have the raw tools to allow them to play the game, then they can really take a jump while they can read the game in a way that will allow them to maximise their skill set. Some guys that get more than a cup of coffee in the NHL often figure out how to read the game, but don't have the particular skill set to be able to take advantage of their newfound understanding of the game.

After that it is mostly about the fundamentals, can you skate, pass and shoot at a level that will allow you to take advantage of what you see?

I thought it was an interesting take on the whole subject of "defence" being a skill.


TMLfans.ca

Re: Learning Defense
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2016, 02:09:48 PM »