WILMINGTON ‘ It’s spoken about as though it’s legend: the vaunted Tampa Bay 1-3- 1. It’s the key to Guy Boucher‘s success, and the reason why the Lightning are in the Eastern Conference finals. It can make opposing teams crumble ‘ just ask the Capitals. It sure is something.
But, um, what is it?
Since it seems it will be a matter of days before the Lightning and Bruins actually meet in the conference finals, there’s plenty of time to explain.
The 1-3-1 is a neutral zone scheme employed by the Lightning, and it seems to be a variation of the popular ‘trap’ system. Teams that play a trap style put one man on the puck, backed by essentially two guys behind him, and two defensemen back. Think of it as a 1-2-2 for the sake of understanding the differences.
In the 1-3-1, there is only one man hanging back, with three guys between the guy playing the puck and the last defenseman. For a fantastically in-depth look at Tampa’s 1-3-1, check out this lesson from the Japer’s Rink blog in DC .
The purpose of the 1-3-1 is to push the play toward the boards. If the first guy can do that, the three skaters in front of the man back (or ‘free safety’ as the blog likens it to), can make it very difficult for the team bringing it through the neutral zone to find seams. If turnovers can be created as a result, suddenly the team bringing the puck through the neutral zone is in big trouble.
‘If you get caught flat-footed I think you are playing into their strength,’ Claude Julien  said after Monday’s practice. ‘If you create turnovers you are obviously going to pay for it so those are two of the main things you have to be careful about when they play that system.
‘When I say we saw Montreal sit back, but I think they sit back even more. And they are even deeper so the one thing they do is once they turn that puck over they counter quickly. It’s going to be really important that we minimize those and obviously you have to create some speed through the neutral zone because standing still you’re a dead duck.’
We’ll have more on the 1-3-1 and which Bruin could be instrumental in the 1-3-1.