The Guy Boucher 1-3-1 trap has been a daunting task for many teams. His Ottawa Senators survived series against better teams, Boston and the New York Rangers to get to the Eastern Conference Final.
In 2011, Boucher’s Tampa Bay lightning rallied from 3 games to 1 against the Penguins to win their first round series. The system is designed to envelope the opposing team in the neutral zone, negate the opponents speed, and allow bigger defensemen like Marc Methot to pound the opposing forwards.
It’s a Trap!
First–let’s get this off the table–it’s not really a 1-3-1 “forecheck”, at least as you and I use the term. Boucher’s system is not aggressive. You won’t see an Ottawa jail break into the Penguins zone. Let us call it what it truly is–A Trap!
While Boucher has tinkered with the system over the years, he claimed before Game 1, “I’ve done the same thing everywhere.”
How to Beat It
Boucher’s system eventually fell apart in Tampa as players became unhappy with it’s offensive stifling qualities, and it’s backside weakness. In other words, teams must remain uber patient and protect a flaw in the system–the weakside is often left exposed as the team over pursues.
At least one Penguins defenseman agrees:
Thanks for asking–Yes.
Look for weakside D to crash or pinch at every chance. https://t.co/2JnvyGNeWT
— Dan Kingerski (@Budmoonshine) May 13, 2017
The Penguins defense will be key. They’ll need to make good decisions when to pinch and when stay back to protect against neutral zone turnovers. You’ll see Justin Schultz and Chad Ruhwedel carry the puck into the zone more than the previous two series combined.
Also–the Penguins wingers will need to be on their game in the corners. Wingers like Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary will need to race into the zone and win puck battles. Phil Kessel wouldn’t hurt his team by participating in a few puck battles, as well.
The Penguins will need to employ a chip-n-chase style in order to turn their forecheck on the Senators and turn the tables.
Patience will be a huge key. Chip-n-chase is typically effective in creating offensive pressure 1 in 3 times. That means 2 in 3 failures. The Pens will need to keep at it until they crack the Senators.
The New York Rangers didn’t lack goals or offense against the Senators. The Blue Shirts scored 4 or more goals, four times. The Rangers simply lacked discipline to keep the lead. The Penguins figure to have an easier time.
The Penguins should win this match-up and the series, somewhat easily.
Pens in 6, only because I haven’t the stones to say 5.