Jacob Trouba's physicality is proof that bruising defenders remain important

The game has changed to a style predicated on quick puck movement and smooth skating. But in the postseason, having rugged defenders who can dish out huge hits to keep the opponent's honest, remains important.
Florida Panthers v New York Rangers - Game One
Florida Panthers v New York Rangers - Game One / Elsa/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

The Montreal Canadiens have had their fair share of big, rugged defenders who impact the game at both ends of the ice, but also in the trenches.

During the Habs Cinderella Stanley Cup finals run in 2021, the defence had some monsters; which allowed them to keep up physically. Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry, Joel Edmundson and Shea Weber played like beasts, logging minutes and making the opposing forward's lives a nightmare. Ultimately a lack of scoring was the bane of the Canadiens cup hopes, but their blueline was formidable.

The game has indeed become much faster, with quick transition plays in the neutral zone being a huge strength in the most successful team's repertoire. If you can't keep up, then you usually get left behind in the dust. But the new school defenders who can keep up and dish out devastating hits have become integral pieces for their teams.

Jacob Trouba, while he plays on the edge almost every game, is a perfect example of a defender who has adapted to the times. Trouba doesn't shy away from the physical play and sometimes he goes over the line. But if you cross his side coming into the zone, chances are you won't try that same thing again and fighting for space in front of the net is a whole other conversation.

Vibes of Weber run rampant through my mind watching Trouba play and it's not meant as an insult to Weber who had a brilliant career. Not that Trouba is a bad player, but Weber didn't teeter the line between legal and illegal with his hits. Anyways, Trouba commands the opposition's attention in the same way that Weber did and if you forget about him for a second, you will end up paying - either by a big body check or a slapshot ending up in the back of the net.

So, adding skill and talent up front and on the back end is crucial to be competitive. You can't forget about the importance of grit throughout the lineup. Guys like Arber Xhekaj, Jayden Struble and Michael Pezzetta, albeit in a smaller sample size, will be nice to have in the thick of playoff battles. Trouba might not be the flashiest and he may garner the most attention with his thunderous body checks, but he wears down the opposition shift after shift.

manual