With a new head coach in Willie Desjardins, the Vancouver Canucks are taking a different approach in the defensive zone than they did under the last guy (who shall remain nameless because I always get in trouble from the commenters whenever I bring him up).
Flash back to last year and here’s Canucks d-man Kevin Bieksa, per The Province, explaining the zone system the last guy employed, in comparison to the system the guy before the last guy, Alain Vigneault, had Vancouver playing:
“We’re used to going at a guy hard in the corner and then the forward would come in and the other D would come in hard. But more or less we’re in a zone coverage now. So it’s being patient and taking care of your responsibilities.”
Now fast forward to the present and here’s Bieksa, per The Province, talking about the new (old?) way of doing things:
“I don’t want to draw too many comparisons to last year, but with this system we’re going to be able to engage in the battle. We’ll be able to support each other and kill the cycle so teams can’t cycle on us on the outside while we hold our position. And hopefully that will let us get out of our zone quicker.”
The objective of the last guy’s system was to protect the critical areas of the ice, like the slot. (And yes, that way of defending lends itself to blocking shots.)
The objective of the new/old system is to win the puck back ASAP and get the play going the other way.
“If you can get the puck out, you’re fresher, you can beat a guy out of your zone and you can jump into the play,” said Bieksa. “There are so many possibilities if you can get out of your zone clean without wasting time. And being more of a puck-possession team is going to allow us to get more offense and you need the defense chipping in offensively. It all starts in our own zone.”
That’s the theory anyway. We’ll see how it works out.