Whoever said the best defense is a good offense probably didn’t have Kyle Klubertanz, Davis Drewiske and Brendan Smith in mind.
The Wisconsin defense, led by senior captain Drewiske, senior assistant captain Klubertanz and freshman Smith, combined for five goals and two assists over the weekend and have proven to be a dominant second line of scorers, something that was sorely lacking last season.
Just six games into the season, UW defensemen have accounted for 10 of the Badgers’ 28 total goals, the same number Wisconsin defensemen had all of last season.
While head coach Mike Eaves has certainly put more emphasis on defensemen attacking the zone, much credit can be placed on the skill and energy provided by freshman defensemen Smith, Cody Goloubef and Ryan McDonagh. As a whole, the defense, which also includes sophomore Jamie McBain, has scored seven of the Badgers’ last nine goals, including three of four in the Saturday night’s Wisconsin victory.
Each of those six players have at least one goal and one assist, led by Klubertanz, who has four goals and four assists, and Smith, with one and five. Though he is certainly pleased with the defense’s success as a unit, Klubertanz — whose four goals in four consecutive games this season already ties his career high — recognizes that it takes a whole team to score.
“Since day one, the coaching staff talked to this D, we want to get up in the play more and try to help out offensively,” Klubertanz said. “The forwards are doing a great job of finding us when we jump in the play. That’s a tribute to them. If they don’t get us the puck, we can’t do anything. They’ve been doing a great job of getting us the puck.”
Despite the offensive success of the defense so far this season, statistics can be deceiving. By scoring more goals, defensemen have to take more chances trying to keep the puck in the zone. This can have both positive and negative results, particularly with less experienced players.
“It’s a double-edged sword in that yes, we want them up in the rush,” head coach Mike Eaves said Saturday night. “[Assistant coach Mark Osiecki] wants them there, we preach that, to try to be intelligent how we get up in the rush. “