In his final interview before training camp opens, Anaheim head coach David Quinn hints on game strategy for the upcoming season and beyond.
Over the last several seasons, the NHL has seen a steady rise in their offensive statistics, a climb the league has been pushing for years. Gone are the prototypical fourth liners and the lesser skilled players, opening the ice surface and allowing for elite forwards such as Connor McDavid to run wild.
The Ducks plan to go in a different direction.
While most GM's looked to stockpile offensive minded players at the 2020 BEARD Entry Draft, the Anaheim Ducks went for defense.
“All you have to do is look at our first three picks in the draft. Jake Sanderson. Tyler Kleven. Brock Faber. You can’t miss at what direction we want to go,” said Ducks head coach David Quinn.
“Defense has to be the priority for any team looking to make an elongated appearance in the grueling Stanley Cup playoffs. The nature of the game come postseason time make defensive systems paramount for a team’s success. The organizations that can best eliminate their opposition's top-flight forwards ultimately have the most success.”
Defensive prowess leading to postseason success is nothing new in the NHL. Just look at the New Jersey Devils, who won the Cup in 2000 and 2003. Those Devils squads were notorious for their defensive trap, which made fans miserable but also led to unprecedented success. The Devils allowed just 1.70 goals per game during the 2000 playoffs and followed that up with a 1.71 total in 2003.
“Frustrating opponents offensively has always been the way to Lord Stanley in the NHL," continued Quinn. "It's a sentiment that has been put to the test with rising goal totals around the league. Defense wins championships, and no matter how talented a team is up front, good schematics and defensive play will upend them every time.”
When asked to be more specific in his game plan for the season, Quinn refused to answer. But he did say one thing that hinted the Ducks would be more physical than in the past.
“I’ve already had discussions with newly acquired Cal Clutterbuck about teaching our young players the proper way of checking in today’s game.”
During a break, we called Cal Clutterbuck over and asked him about his assignment.
“I already named my newbies," said a smiling Clutterbuck. "Soon the fans will be calling them the Crunch Bunch. In the seasons to come it would be nice to hear echoes of 'Defense! Defense! Defense!' coming from a packed Honda Center.”