Welcome to the newest edition of “Point/Counterpoint,” where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes present both sides of one particular issue with their own unique view and flair.
This week, Kevin C and…Kevin C… debate the more effective style of play, puck possession or dump and chase.
The Hobbit is coming out soon and I recently saw Andy Serkis on Colbert, and I thought, “I’m going to debate with myself; Gollum versus Smeagol style”. So I hope you’re prepared for some absurdity as I take on my alter ego from my college roller hockey days….Lloyd.
Point – Lloyd: Puck possession is everything in hockey.
So maybe this is just the roller hockey player in me because I grew up my entire life playing the sport, and played it in college as well. Yes, roller hockey is a real sport, and it’s far more competitive and prevalent than you probably realize.
For the life of me, sometimes I can’t understand why the puck possession dynamics of roller hockey aren’t more prevalent in ice hockey, and in this case the NHL. Go check out an AIHL (American Inline Hockey League) or PIHA (Professiona Inline Hockey Association) game and you’ll see a game that is entirely about puck possession.
It’s a simple concept really; if you have the puck, the other team doesn’t, and you’re completely dictating play. The Detroit Red Wings play, in my opinion, the biggest puck possession game in the NHL. In recent history, it really isn’t close. There’s got to be something to it as Detroit has made 21 straight playoff appearances. Only recently have teams begun to take that approach themselves.
I mean, why in God’s name after gaining the red line, with 4 or 5 players in front of you, do you throw it deep and give up possession? If the opposing team’s backcheckers are tight on you, you can turn the puck back to your D, retreat, and get your line change, all while keeping possession.
It’s simple, control the puck and you control play. Ice Hockey needs to take a page out of roller hockey’s book.
Counterpoint – Kevin C: Dump and chase is superior and roller hockey is not a sport.
Are you really doing this? You’re trying to compare roller hockey, a sport with 4 skaters, no offsides, and no icing, to ice hockey? It’s not even a valid comparison, as they truly aren’t comparable. They are entirely different games.
You can’t keep possession like you do in roller because if you fall under pressure, you can’t just rid yourself of the puck. You’re risking icing. Not to mention that roller hockey does not include body checking, so you’re not exactly under the same amount of pressure as you are in ice hockey.
Puck possession had its time, and they were the Soviets, and then a group of college kids beat them in Lake Placid and that was that.
The Red Wings are an exception to the rule. If you want to succeed in ice hockey, you keep it simple. You get the puck deep, you forecheck hard, you bang bodies, and force the opposing team to rush a pass. Cause turnovers and capitalize on them and you don’t need the puck the entire game.
For what it’s worth, I’ll add a personal comment on the subject. Being a serious roller hockey player my entire life, I really do find it silly that ice hockey players so vehemently berate the sport. As I said above, they really aren’t even comparable. They really, and truly are entirely different games.
That said, I do believe that ice hockey could take a few things from the roller hockey game; puck possession being one of them.