I think this is a pretty accurate description of the Neutral Zone Trap. Over the years we have watched a lot of teams that ran a 1-2-2 or a 1-4 and they were God awful teams to watch play hockey. The first team that comes to mind are the Wild and Devils teams that were coach by Jacques Lemaire, these teams were absolutely brutal teams to watch play hockey.
Blue Seat Blogs --- Some of the more conservative teams will trap once they have the lead. Other teams will trap at the end of each period regardless of the score. More moderate teams will trap when they do not get the puck in deep enough to work their aggressive forecheck. And finally, even those “north/south” puck pursuit teams will still trap when they are simply changing lines. Well the smart ones do anyway.
The point is the trap has evolved, but for some reason people’s perception of it hasn’t. So when I read that Zach Parise would be better off on a non-trapping team, or that the league should make more rules to undermine the trap’s effectiveness, I just laugh. People still aren’t getting it.
The game has changed and it is becoming increasingly difficult to paint players or coaches and their respective systems with broad strokes. So whether you’re the Bruins playing a 1-4, or the Devils playing a 1-2-2, or the Lightning playing a 1-3-1, a lot of it is all just hyperbole. The truth is the days of clogging up the neutral zone for the entire game may be over, but variations of these formations live on and they are not going anywhere anytime soon.
That being said, every team play the trap from time-to- time, I have seen the Fighting Sioux when they are up in a game late, employ the Neutral Zone Trap with great success.
Cornell head coach Mike Schafer employs this tactic as a regular game plan and they play it perfectly; a few years ago his team played UND won a grind it out 1-0 game and Cornell was badly outshot 28-15. The Big Red took the lead 1-0 in third period and then lined at the blue line and chipped the puck out of the zone. Personally, I am glad that I don’t have to watch that kind of hockey on a regular basis.
The best way to beat the trap is to enter the neutral zone with speed and get past the defenders. Also, another way to be a trap team is to get the lead forcing them to abandon their team game plan.
I don’t think we will ever see the end of the “trap” in modern hockey. Playing smart defensive hockey is a good recipe for victory and there are times that it is appropriate. Again, there is no reason to pinch a lot when your team has the lead and the best offensive opportunities come with active forwards off of the fore check of the defenseman.