Friday, November 11, 2011

The 1-3-1 Trap: Evil or Evil Genius?

The fallout from the Flyers-Lightning stalemate-riddled game on Wednesday is still dropping all over the place. Tampa ended up winning the game 2-1 in overtime, but the repercussions of Tampa's nouveau trapping defense are being felt league wide.

The Tampa hockey writers have naturally risen to the defense of Guy Boucher and his 1-3-1 trapping defense. Winning certainly improves one's outlook on life. Tampa is currently on a 3 game winning streak and 7-3 over their last ten. The Rangers play at Tampa on December 3rd.

The Tampa defensive strategy ticked the Flyers off so much that they stayed back in their defensive zone daring Tampa to make the first move. The Versus commentators, Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Pierre McGuire also got worked up over the trap. Damian Cristodero of and the St. Petersburg Times said:

Milbury, Jones and McGuire were merciless on the Lightning, saying the team and Boucher should be embarrassed at the way they played. Jones even went as far as to say the Lightning should be "punished" in some way.

Cristodero in his story, then gets trap-meister Jacque Lemaire to strike back at all the trap detractors, Jacques Lemaire zings Versus commentators who criticized the Lightning, and Guy Boucher --
-- "I think (Boucher) has to coach the way he feels is going to win games, and that's it. The rest, you want to play a certain style that maybe doesn't fit your team and lose and then in a month you're looking for a job? What's that?"

-- "We (the Devils) played against them last year. We beat them. We played, we beat them. They are entitled to play the way they want. There's no rule to say you can't do this or can't do that."
John Fontana at Raw Charge also takes issue with painting Boucher as the bad guy, So, Tampa Bay is supposed to be the bad guy... --
So Comcast has set the media narrative, as we've seen it on Versus since the 2011 NHL Playoffs when the Tampa Bay Lightning kept surprising the big-shots of the NHL: Guy Boucher is the villain, the 1-3-1 system is evil and bad for the game of hockey. Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers "stood up" for the NHL by avoiding playing hockey at times in order to make a statement against the 1-3-1. The Flyers are heroes! ...
On the other side of this issue you have the Philly people, who see things in a very different light.

Eugene Markman / Broad Street Buzz:
Guy Boucher Is Bad For Hockey --
I don’t care if it’s effective or not, but the way Guy Boucher coaches his team is bad for hockey. He ruins the game, pure and simple. The trap nearly ruined the game a decade ago, and now he’s brought along an even slower and more boring version of it. I HATE it.

Sure, we all want our team to do whatever is necessary to win games. So if some teams use more of a defensive approach, more power to them. But there’s a right way and a wrong way. And something that makes the game of hockey slow and boring is absolutely the wrong way. Hockey’s appeal is it’s speed. Yeah, we like fighting and goals and wicked saves, but those are all secondary. The most exciting part of a game, for me, is simply when players make plays at high speeds. Whether it’s a one on one move, or some nice passing, or simply end to end rushes, that’s what makes this game so different. It’s all about flow. And Guy Boucher is simply killing it...
Travis Hughes / Broad Street Hockey:
Flyers vs. Lightning: Why the 1-3-1 trap sucks, and why it doesn't --
Tampa Bay Lightning fans are getting awfully defensive defending the boring-as-rocks defensive strategy their team employs...

For now, though? Eh, a little boring hockey every once in a while isn't the worst thing in the world. Actually good for a laugh or two.
Former NHL Ref Kerry Fraser blogging for TSN provided his view:
The Correct Assessment of the Lightning-Flyers Situation -- This is how you and I must handle this situation on the ice in that game.
i) The first time that a player abstains from advancing the puck you or I would shout at that player to move/advance the puck and if no movement results blow the whistle to conduct a face-off on the spot nearest to where play was stopped! (Rule reference: 72.1 - This would take place after no longer than 10 seconds of inactivity NOT 30 seconds.) ...
Puck Daddy also joined the discussion today:
Kerry Fraser’s problematic take on Flyers/Lightning stalemate -- Everyone and their mother has had a take on the Philadelphia Flyers' stall tactics against Guy Boucher and the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-3-1 system, but there were two recent reactions that deserve a little more attention: Those of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and former NHL referee/hair model/lightning rod of angst Kerry Fraser.

Bettman's take on his XM Home Ice radio show on Thursday, via
"Did I like it? No. Is it the most horrible thing I've ever seen on the ice? No. But I do think it has now added another agenda item to the general managers (meetings) next week. The officials whistled down play when there was no puck movement and it was appropriate."
Bettmen even worked Sean Avery into the conversation.
"I think under the circumstances they reacted appropriately," Bettman said. "It reminded me of when Sean Avery was waving his stick in front of Marty Brodeur, and they said, 'OK, we think that's unsportsmanlike conduct. We haven't seen that before, so it is unsportsmanlike but we're going to warn you and tell you if you keep it up, that's the penalty that we're going to call.' And that's what they did, and I think that's kind of what we're dealing with now.
The NY Times chimes in on the subject:
Should N.H.L. Stand Still for This? --
the impasse in the Flyers-Lightning game consumed about 6.5 percent of the game’s 62 ½ minutes, nothing like the full-game trapfests of the prelockout N.H.L.

Certainly fans don’t pay to watch teams stand still. But if the league’s managers start devising new rules, they would risk destroying the current balance between offense and defense, which has made for entertaining hockey the last six seasons...
So what do you think? Is the 1-3-1 Trap evil? Comments are invited.

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  • donuts4brains said...

    Evil. Bad. Not Good. Stop it.

  • jb said...

    This is one of those black and white issues. No gray areas regarding the trap, you're either for it or against.

    Mike thinks the Rangers are moving toward the trap. Torts looks for a one goal lead and play for worst case a tie, OT and a shootout.

    That's why Christensen is still on the team.

    This business of points for OT or shootout losses gives coaches an incentive to use it. You get more of something that rewards people.

  • Wes said...

    Its evil if the other team uses it. If we use it then its just playing smart hockey.

  • blow-me-down said...

    It's up to teams to beat the trap. I mean, why do the Flyers whine. It's their job to beat the trap. Some of the strategies advised all over the place are ridiculous, like creating new rules against 'the trap'.
    How are rules going to do anything but further drown the game in complexity? Sheesh.

    This has happened in one game. What am I missing here? Nothing, I believe.

  • Jen9400 said...

    The trap sucks.
    I call the OT point for a loss the BS point.
    I agree with Mike again about Torts and have I mentioned lately how much I despise his system?
    I thought so! :)

  • DavidL said...

    Evil, schmeevil. As a Lightning fan, I thought the Bolts played a great defensive game, being down two of their defensive stars, vs. a premier team. The trap has been played for years. The Flyers are sore losers. Let's take a vote. Would you rather see your team win 1-0, or 2-1 games, or lose 6-4, or 9-8 games. It's a no-brainer. As a matter of fact, the Lightning missed a couple easy shots that could have easily made it a 3-1 or 4-1 game in regulation. Instead of banning the trap, why doesn't the NHL get with it and change the time of goals and penalties to coincide with the TIME LEFT on the clock instead of making us all subtract the time left from 20 to figure out when goals were scored. Doesn't that make more sense? But it's King Bettman living in the dark ages.

  • jb said...

    Good point about the ass-backwards timing used in the league. It always confuses me.
    Sure the 1-3-1 trap can be beaten. A 1-3-1 zone trap is used in basketball all the time in various situations. Most good teams practice how to break it and do.

    I agree completely about not adding more rules.

    I think changing this OT-loss gets a point business would do more to open up the game than anything.