Ultimately, it comes down to puck possession. Great defense is what gets you there. Great defense is more than just d-zone coverage. It's the transition game, the first passes. Great offense comes from great defense. Great defense doesn't come from great offense.
The Kings are so good defensively because they don't spend any time in their zone. Their defensemen know how to manage the puck once they regain possession. If they have the puck and they're not forechecking or cycling in the o-zone, they're pushing the play up the ice, away from Quick (who, yes, does benefit greatly from all this). That means they're not embarking on African safaris deep within their zone every 40 seconds like we are. They're spending a lot of time on the attack, because they're spending little time in their zone. They're spending little time in their zone because they "defend" well. They move the puck out of their zone and through neutral ice well.
Arguably the best top three we've ever had is Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall. Three offense-minded, puck-moving, possession-savvy veteran defensemen. Lidstrom and Rafalski especially - they knew how to take care of business in their own end and put us on the attack with brilliant breakouts, a quick-strike transition. And that's saying nothing of their work in the o-zone. They were spectacular quarterberbacks, and they could bomb it from the points.
We miss the old Mule. We miss Z and D in their prime. But, more than anyone else, we miss Lidstrom and Rafalski, and the luxury of being able to play Kronwall on the second pairing. (I'd also take Stuart over Quincey.) I mean, think about it. Our forward corps isn't bad, even with the injuries we've had. It's actually quite good. It should've been scoring at a much better clip. What went wrong? Was it beause we just needed one more top-sixer? Was it because we didn't have Thomas Vanek? Would Vanek have been the difference? Doubtful.
What we need is a veteran top-four defensemen who, above all else, does good things with the puck.
- frankgrimes likes this