Setting Up The Play: Hatin’ On The Dump And Chase

 

 

I’m going to come right out and say it: I despise the “Dump and Chase”.

Long the play style of highly physical teams, the dump and chase is exactly what it sounds like-dump the puck into the opponent’s zone once you’ve gained possession and go in hard after it. It’s been termed as a style that’s “hard to play against”, mostly because it creates such a physical game. All of this is well and good, but I have a couple of problems with it. (To be clear, I don’t mean this in the sense of getting rid of the puck when you need to change-but there are ways to keep possession and still get fresh legs out there, which are obviously preferable.)  

First of all, the thing is that in today’s NHL, speed, not physicality, trumps all. Just 8 years ago the rules of the game were wildly different and allowed a hard hitting, less skilled team to use this style of play and actually win with it-see Flames, Calgary circa 2004. My second main problem with it is that we know possession helps you win games. It’s been demonstrated time and time again that possession leads to shots directed at the net, which lead to scoring chances, which lead to goals, which lead to wins. Ergo, the less possession a team has, the more likely it is to lose.

The principle point of this system is to give the puck up and hope that you’re fast enough to get to it before the other team does. This is a moronic idea to base a system on, even if you have the speed to regain possession of the puck most of the time. Think about it: is it easier to keep something you already have or chase after something you don’t? The answer is obviously the first one. Not only do you control the pace and direction of the play when you have possession of the puck, you’re also going to save energy; since the puck always moves faster than a skater.

It’s easiest to think of it this way: every second your team has the puck is another second the other team doesn’t, which means that they don’t have the opportunity to score. It seems to me that the point of this system is to give away the puck in order to get it back again. That doesn’t seem very efficient or smart.

Lastly: injuries. We see players get hurt or checked weirdly every single game when there’s a rush to the puck on the end boards. While it usually isn’t the team dumping the puck in that ends up with injuries, the chances for penalties go way up when an opponent’s back is facing you and you’re trying to get possession. You just end up with some ugly situations. While I will fully admit that a severe injury or penalty is rare, it’s best not to risk it.

Bottom line, it’s easier to keep possession of the puck then it is to chase it and that will help you win more games. If you have the speed to always chase after the puck, you have the speed to keep the puck away from the other team. If you don’t have the skill and speed needed to keep the other team at bay, then it’s definitely going to be more challenging to get that biscuit back.