Could a defensemen heavy system work?

Watching the World Cup (and playing FIFA) recently got me thinking about where players play, and how many are dressed. In soccer, there are very many types of formations. Some have 2 strikers, some have 5 defenders, some have 5 midfielders, but what most of these formations have in common, is that they will be changed based on the personnel that is on the team. If you are playing a formation with 1 striker, and you acquire another striker, then the coach may adjust the system to the ability of the players he has on the team and work a formation with two strikers (unless the coach is set in their ways, in which case, looks like someone is playing an offensive midfield position). So this got me thinking about hockey.

What I thought about

You typically see 12 forwards dressed for 4 lines of 3, and 6 defensemen dressed for 3 lines of 2 (and then two goalies) for a total of 20 players (18 skaters). Every once in a while you may see 7 d men dressed, but this is usually only done when there is a sudden injury and this player will play forward such as we saw from both Wilson and Barrie this year, or when coaches/GMs don't want to call anyone up. What really got me thinking, is could a system work, in which only 10 forwards were dressed, and 8 defenders, but the defenders did not play forward. Rather, those extra two defenders could be specialists. Maybe defenders that overall, aren't good enough to get a roster spot, but have one because they could be amazing on the PP (Elliott and a player that AJ has said is excellent on offense, recent signing, Noreau), or they could be a PK specialist. Guenin comes to mind. Most around here know that I cannot stand Guenin because he's not a good d-man, but on the PK, he is very serviceable. So what if the Avs line up looked like this (not worried so much of the line combos, as I am about the 10 F and 8 D in the spots).


One of McLeod/Mitchell/Bordy/Winchester/Hishon

Talbot could be switched with Mitchell, but I have him there because Talbot is better defensively.


Two of Elliott/Noreau/Guenin

With 8 d-men on the bench, it would allow the bottom for to be a bit more protected, less exposed and have less ice time while being able to put them on the ice in areas where they may succeed the best.

My doubts
The biggest question that pops into my mind is "Will the forwards get tired?". The answer is, "I don't know". I don't know how well conditioned all the forwards may be. This is assuming top line gets 23 minutes, second line gets 20 and third gets 17 with the 10th forward subbing in, in situations where they help, or to give another forward a shift off.
My next area of concern, is that this could be a situation where the Avs could get into some big defensive trouble, real quick. Imagine a scenario, where the Avs have an offensive draw with the top line out there. Roy decides to take a risk, and put Noreau and Elliott out there to apply some offensive pressure. Faceoff is lost, Avs get pinned in their own end, with not very good defensive d-men, and they ice the puck. This type of situation seems like a high risk, high reward situation (which seems to go along with Roy).
Another area of concern, is will this affect line chemistry? If players need a breather, you see that 10th forward subbing in on different lines. Will that affect how cohesive those top two lines are? Same goes with d-men.
A final area of concern, at least that I can think of currently, is that if a forward gets thrown out, then the Avs are down to 9 forwards. Another gets hurt? Down to eight. Then the Avs may be in some deep shit.

Imaginary Awesomeness

This type of system could potentially, be very dangerous, hard to plan against and unpredictable. It takes those bottom pairing D, and squeezes the most out of them, in areas that they are more accomplished in. For games going into overtime, it gives more flexibility for defensive pairings in 4 on 4 play so slower/defensive players aren't used because others are tired. In this league, special teams are huge, and if a system like this gives an advantage to the PP and PK, I think it could be a useful idea, as long as it doesn't take away from even strength play too much.


I don't know if it could work. It would be a hell of a lot easier to be a successful system (really any system) if the Avs had re-signed Stastny, but that's not where we are. As I said before, I don't know how conditioned these players are. Will they get Ryan Suter syndrome and break down by the end of the season? Will they use it as a reason to work even harder? Will there be an increase in GF and if so, will that increase counteract any increase there is in GA? I have no clue, but I do know, it could be really interesting to watch.

What do you all think? is a fan community, allowing members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editors of

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