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bluedevil58

Can a well-coached team win without highly skilled players?

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Can a team win on a consistent basis at the NHL level without highly skilled players?  If a team is well-coached and plays an exceptional 2-way game and does good on special teams, do they have a chance at making the playoffs on a consistent basis or does the NHL require teams to have big guns in order to win?

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I'd say it's a depth issue.  I believe that a well coached team full of average skill players with few weaknesses could consistently make the playoffs as a fringe team (sometimes in, sometimes out, but always in contention of playoffs).  The tradeoff however is that you're not going to be dominant in any one area of the game and probably wouldn't make deep runs into the playoffs.  It'll be a team that's hard to play against, but not one to be overly afraid of.

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I think if you have horses on defense and a top flight goalie, you can. Otherwise, not really. You need to put the puck in the net and teams that constantly rank near the bottom in scoring, generally miss the playoffs. Also doing well on special teams would tend to override that, but would not be consistent with a low skill team on the PP. If a team played a tight defensive game, had a very good goalie and despite low skill somehow had a great PP, then yes.

 

But, if you have a top defensive team with a top flight goalie and play some version of a trap, and pack it in defensively you can squeak in. That said teams that have a marginal goalie and defense that try this usually fail. Even if you do sneak in with the above, you rarely get very far.

 

This is not to undervalue the effect of the coach. It's just that skill matters a lot, and the deeper you go in the playoffs, and the higher you climb the ladder, the more it matters. 

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Along the lines of Rem's comments, a team that comes to mind would be the Preds when Trotz was there.  They had Sutter, Weber and Rinne, with pretty decent talent, not superstars or highly skilled guys, up front.

 

So maybe, but those teams never seemed to get past the first round when they did make the playoffs.

 

But in today's game, with so much emphasis on offense, probably not.

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Coastal, before I even got to your post I was thinking about the Predators under Trotz as well.

I would say the Blue Jackets fit that description as well, especially when Bobrovsky is on his game. They outwork most teams and I wouldn't call Johanssen, Dubinsky, or Horton (who is usually injured) superstars, never mind their defense.

Can they take the next step? Who knows but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

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They can win in the East during the regular season, but if they make the playoffs, they won't get past the second round. 

 

In the West, they're just toast (see: Edmonton Oilers).

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It depends on what you mean by "win".  If it's making the playoffs, then yes.  If it's going deep in the playoffs, I'd say no.  Half the teams in the league make the playoffs and .56 "winning percentage" gets you 92 points.  Good coaching and solid play can get to that, with some skilled players and not a loaded team.  In the playoffs, you run up against skilled teams with good coaching. 

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Another thing is depth of skill. Maybe you don't have Crosby and Malkin, but like, say the Bruins of last year, you can go 8 deep with guys putting up nearly 40 or more points upfront. Combine that with a solid defensive game an an elite goaltender and you're the best team in the East.

 

The Stanley Cup contenders nearly always go deep with talent. Yes, even our cup team went very deep with it.

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