Man, you guys. It's not even that I necessarily disagree. But you're just so predictably silly about this.
Yeah, no one ever takes a run at your guys when you've got a tough guy in your lineup. (Lemieux-on-Draper, McLeod-on-Kronwall.)
And yeah, a fourth line with Orr and Westgarth and McGratton on it is definitely something we should do. Then, when the offense dries up even more and opposing teams exploit that unholy clusterf*** of a "line," we can all get on Holland's case because ZOMG WE'RE NOT SERIOUS ABOUT WINNING. WHAT OTHER TEAM HAS THREE ENFORCERS AS THEIR FOURTH LINE?
Dressing a fighter, in this day and age, is pretty much a waste. I get the argument for it, and I don't totally disagree. But, if John Scott is gonna take out Loui Eriksson, he's gonna do it. If James Neal is gonna knee Brad Marchand in the head, he's gonna do it. Having an enforcer just means you get to respond after the fact and make some kind of silly "statement" that doesn't really need to be made in the first place and isn't going to do much good. (ZOMG! Our guy who gets paid to take issue with transgressions takes issue with your transgression! What a statement!) Because, honestly, in all our years of not dressing an enforcer, how many times has a guy taken a clear-cut "run" at one of our soft Euro stars and badly injured him? We're talking, what, maybe five incidents? Which is probably at or below the league average over that span of time. Because, again, enforcers don't really deter. They just make "statements" after the fact. And then it happens again, and they get to make another "statement," after the fact.
This isn't the '80s, guys. This isn't the Norris Division. There aren't 18 fights per game. Today's game is not nearly as rough-and-tumble and dirty. It's won mostly with speed and skill. Why are the Avalanche winning so much this season? Because they're fast and they can score in bunches (and their goalies have been great). We can't score to save our lives, so, if anything, we might actually need more skill. Certainly we need to be more fleet of foot.
Not that I don't think we need to get tougher. We do. But we have to be reasonable about it. It has to be a change that'll help us win more games and ultimately win a Cup. Not something to make us feel like bigger men, because, ho ho ho, now we have a face-puncher to hide behind! That's how a man takes care of business! He hides behind a hired gun! I'd rather have more overall team toughness - though, again, we need to find a way to score more. So there has to be a balance. Not saying the two - skill and toughness - are mutually exclusive. I'm saying, basically, you can't just load up on one-dimensional tough guys and think it's going to make things a whole lot better, on any front.
If it were up to me, I'd take a good look at Ott and Westgarth this summer. I'd almost never dress the latter, but I'd have him just in case things get ludicrous and an actual statement has to be made. Or I'd play him with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Because that'd be awesome. (Not being sarcastic.) As for Ott - he's a pain in the ass who's not afraid to mix it up, throw his weight around, drop the gloves. Ott and Westgarth. That might be a nice first baby step on the road to getting tougher as a team.
I think most of it actually comes down to Babcock. He needs to preach a tougher, more aggressive and intense style. We generally play with no life, no oomph. Or, we'll have little flashes of intensity, but that's it. That has to change. We, as a team, have to bring it. Every shift, every game. We have to push the pace. We have to play to win, not to "not lose." We have to win those little battles that add up over 60 minutes. We have to be engaged and electric. I'd take all that over throwing three fighters into the mix.
Edited by Dabura, 16 December 2013 - 10:13 AM.