When a certain style flourishes in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are always repercussions felt around the league. Just look at recent history.
When the up-tempo Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006, many teams — the Rangers included — saw the merit in having their defensemen join the attack the following season. But seeing how the Rangers didn’t necessarily have the personnel at the time to fit the style — Sandis Ozolinsh, anyone? — the results were occasionally disastrous.
The next year, the smash-and-bash ’em Ducks powered their way through the Finals, and suddenly everyone felt the need to get bigger and nastier.
Now the puck-possession Red Wings are having their way with the Penguins, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s another knee-jerk reaction around the league.
Of course, this might be the most difficult team to mimic seeing how the Wings at their core are mostly just a scary collection of talent. But believe it or not, their emphasis on keeping the puck low in the zone and away from the opposition isn’t far off from what the Rangers have been attempting the last few seasons as well.
Again, the difference is the Red Wings have the two-way players who can pull the style off. The Rangers, meanwhile, were defined by sequences this season when they’d control play for minutes on end, not score, and then surrender a costly odd-man rush the other way.
How this plays into the Rangers off-season plans remains to be seen. Naturally one solution is to find some guys who can finish. The other is to make sure you find both forward and defensemen mobile enough to play at both ends of the rink.
It all sounds good in theory, of course. Grabbing hold of those players might not be as easy.