Conference #1 Final Discussion Thread: New Jersey Devils vs. Calgary Cowboys

God Bless Canada
12-18-2006, 01:55 PM
The New Jersey Devils will face the Calgary Cowboys in the Red Fischer Conference Final. Both teams are coming off of demanding seven-game series. The No. 1-ranked Devils rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the No. 2-seeded Boston Bruins. Calgary defeated the Edmonton Oilers in what was a close series throughout.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Coach: Lester Patrick
Captain: Joe Sakic
Alternates: Henri Richard, Bert Olmstead

Forwards:
John Tonelli - Joe Sakic (C) - Cam Neely
Bert Olmstead (A) - Henri Richard (A) - Vaclav Nedomansky
Doug Mohns - Bobby Holik - Bryan Hextall, Sr.
Craig Ramsay - Don Luce - Ed Westfall
Mickey MacKay

Defensemen:
Eddie Shore - "Black Jack" Stewart
Bill White - Alexei Kasatonov
Ott Heller - Vladimir Lutchenko
Lester Patrick

Goaltenders:
Martin Brodeur
Al Rollins
Hap Holmes

CALGARY COWBOYS
Coach: Punch Imlach
Captain: Mark Messier
Alternate Captains: Igor Larionov, Ivan Hlinka

Vladimir Krutov - Igor Larionov - Sergei Makarov
Keith Tkachuk - Mark Messier - Theo Fleury
John LeClair - Eric Lindros - Frank McGee
Jiri Holik - Ivan Hlinka - Martin St. Louis
Ken Linseman

Frantisek Pospisil - Rob Blake
Steve Smith - Zdeno Chara
Sandis Ozolinsh - Ulf Samuelsson
Sergei Gonchar

Jacques Plante
Tony Esposito
Kirk McLean

God Bless Canada
12-18-2006, 06:39 PM
GOALTENDING: Calgary. It's definitely Calgary's biggest edge. Plante-Esposito is the premier 1-2 punch left in the draft, and Plante's the only goalie left over that I would rate in the top five. (He's my pick for No. 1). I'd also take Tony O ahead of Roy Worters, but since Elvi picked him so soon, he'd better have a great back-up. As stated in previous recaps, Brodeur is the perfect goalie to play behind this team.

DEFENCE: New Jersey. If Calgary has the big edge in goal, New Jersey has the big edge in defence, not only on the blue line, but in terms of overall defensive play. The defence is one of the best, if not the best, in terms of defensive play. Calgary has a solid defence with guys like Chara, Ulf, Smith and Blake. New Jersey has a definite edge when you consider that they have two strong checking line, and fabulous two-way forwards like Sakic, Richard, Neely, Olmstead and Tonelli. Calgary's one definite weakness is they don't have a true checking line - they do have some fine defensive players - but they lack a line that can shut down a scoring line.

OFFENCE: Calgary. Calgary has four lines that could be classified as scoring lines, while New Jersey has two, but I wouldn't classify this as a big edge. Calgary has the KLM Line. They have arguably the best-built second line in the draft, and the Legion of Doom on the third line. The fourth line is very capable offensively. Gonchar and Ozolinsch provide a strong puck-moving presence from the defence. New Jersey does have likely the best third line RW in the draft in Bryan Hextall, and Mohns can keep up with him. Likely the No. 3 RW in the pre-Original 6 NHL, after Conacher and Cook. Neither team has a particularly offensive defence, but they do have some solid puck-movers.

COACHING: New Jersey. This isn't a slight against Imlach. He's arguably one of the top 10 coaches of all-time. A whip-cracker and a tactician, but if the team's winning (like Calgary is) they'll put up with his tactics. But Patrick was a master strategist, an innovator and somebody who always thought the game at another level. And if something happens to Brodeur...

GRIT: New Jersey. Toughest call of the series. Both teams are loaded with gritty, physical players up front and on the blue line. I give the edge to New Jersey because they have grit spread out across all four lines and all three defence pairings. Calgary has grit over the bottom three lines, but you aren't going to get that from the KLM line or Hlinka. The only forwards for New Jersey won't wouldn't be classified as gritty are Sakic, Richard and Nedomansky, and Sakic and Richard are excellent defensive players.

INTANGIBLES: New Jersey. Another very tough call. Calgary has the edge in terms of chemistry, but at this point in the season, chemistry will be less of a factor. When it comes to leadership and players I'd want in a playoff situation, especially a Game 7 situation, I like New Jersey more. Richard may be the best intangible player left in the playoffs. Guys like Sakic, Neely, Tonelli, Olmstead, Ramsay, Hextall, the list goes on and on. And in a Game 7 situation, there isn't a defenceman, ever, that I'd rather have than Eddie Shore. But any team with guys like Messier, Larionov, Fleury, St. Louis, Holik, Smith, Chara and Samuelsson will have a healthy helping of intangibles.

MONSTER MATCHUP: New Jersey's Buffalo line versus Calgary's second line. Call it a hunch, but I think Calgary's best hope for victory up front lies in their second line. Messier and Fleury were among the best clutch players of their generation. Expect to see a lot of those two out against Ramsay and Luce as the series progresses. Holik-Luce-Hextall will take care of the KLM.

Frightened Inmate #2
12-29-2006, 11:56 AM
Goaltending - Cowboys. Best goaltender left in the draft as well as likely the best backup.

Defense - Devils. Has always been the weakness of the Cowboys that they don't have a great puck moving defenseman. Don't really have a checking line despite having solid defensive players throughout their lineup.

Offense - Cowboys. More offensive potential throughout the lineup than the Devils and being able to roll the lines has worked out very well for the Cowboys in the past as which line does a checking line focus on without getting beaten by another line. The real wildcard in the Devils lineup is Hextall and how well he will adapt.

Coaching - Draw. This is the hardest one to judge overall because I don't know Patrick at all and what I read focuses on his innovations to the game and have nothing to do with coaching.

Grit - Cowboys. I really have a hard line deciding between the two but the size of the Cowboys, particularly their defense has lead me to this decision. Plus looking at Ulf in a seven game series is bound to have a negative impact on Neely

Intangables - Devils. Messier/Larionov/McGee make this a very close battle but I feel as though the intangables and the leadership on the Devils roster is just barely greater than that of the Cowboys.

BM67
12-29-2006, 07:36 PM
Hey if you want to put Sandis and Ulf out against my #1 line feel free. No checking line, and Ozo against Tonelli - Sakic - Neely, that might just win the series for me right there.

I think your guys need to watch out for Shore and Stewart much more than my guys do Ulf.

CapsChemist
12-30-2006, 03:19 AM
I have a question. What constitutes a player as gritty?

Nalyd Psycho
12-30-2006, 05:23 AM
I think your guys need to watch out for Shore and Stewart much more than my guys do Ulf.

Yeah, anyone nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts" is not someone you want to be tangling with. Ulf is nasty, but Shore was almost charged with manslaughter for his on ice conduct.

BM67
12-30-2006, 09:03 AM
I have a question. What constitutes a player as gritty?
A gritty player is willing to give or take a hit, dig in the corners, crash the net, and drop the gloves when needed. - BM67

Grit is... having the intestinal fortitude to fight through checks and hits and grind in the corners and sacrifice. - Evil Sather

Frightened Inmate #2
12-30-2006, 11:39 AM
Hey if you want to put Sandis and Ulf out against my #1 line feel free. No checking line, and Ozo against Tonelli - Sakic - Neely, that might just win the series for me right there.

I think your guys need to watch out for Shore and Stewart much more than my guys do Ulf.


Well Ulf would see some time on the ice with Neely and I am sure that he would make the most of it and get Neely more focused on physical retribution rather than scoring goals which would further highlight the Devils greatest weakness, which is scoring goals. There is a nice crop of players but when Bobby Holik is a third line center there is a good chance that your team will be battling to win the 2-1 3-2 games... and this is coming from someone who is a big Bobby Holik fan. Offense is going to be in sparce supply on your team and time will tell if your players will be able to get the puck past Plante enough for them to win the series.

Shore, I love him and I will never say anything bad about him (other than the fact he was a dirty son of a .....) but I don't know how he would handle something he would never have seen before in the KLM line or whether he would resort to cheapshot tactics, putting him in the box or possibly suspended. There is a fine line between being an imposing physical force and being wreckless which can hurt a team, I see Shore as one of the players who has crossed that line in the past.

The real question of the series is whether old one eye can break out or whether Shore will blind him.

BM67
12-30-2006, 12:29 PM
Foster Hewitt on the Soviets in 72: They say there's nothing new in the world - so perhaps we should look back to the style of the old New York Rangers. That's the style the Soviets play so effectively - precision passing and smart team play.

KLM wouldn't exactly be "new" to Shore, besides he's already had a full season to see it. Personally I'm not that worried about them. Larionov is possibly the worst faceoff man in the series, and the line has very little in the way of physical play or defense. They will offer enough offensive freedom to my team to offset any offensive advantage they have on talent.

As for Holik, he put up some decent numbers during the dead puck era while being a 2nd and 3rd liner, so I know he can produce from that role. Can you say the same for Lindros? He's a better player, but is he a better 3rd liner?

My team is much better suited to rolling 4 lines, as most of my guys played much of their careers off of the #1 line. Richard was always behind Beliveau. Sakic had Forsberg to share the #1 role. Tonelli was behind Gillies and put up 100 points when he wasn't. Neither Luce or Holik were ever the #1 center, but Holik led NJ in scoring and Luce was Buffalo's team MVP. It's much the same for most of my forwards, except for my top 3 RWs.

Frightened Inmate #2
12-30-2006, 01:41 PM
My team is much better suited to rolling 4 lines, as most of my guys played much of their careers off of the #1 line. Richard was always behind Beliveau. Sakic had Forsberg to share the #1 role. Tonelli was behind Gillies and put up 100 points when he wasn't. Neither Luce or Holik were ever the #1 center, but Holik led NJ in scoring and Luce was Buffalo's team MVP. It's much the same for most of my forwards, except for my top 3 RWs.

So you are saying that your forwards were good when they didn't have to face the oppositions best checkers or defensive pairings? Well I would counter that and state that my players have shown the ability to perform at a high level while being the key players that the other team focuses on. That impresses me much more than very good players who are on the second line. I would say that the clear advantage on the forward ranks as well as between the pipes for the cowboys and whether that will be enough to overcome the advantage the the Devils have on the backend?

BM67
12-30-2006, 04:02 PM
It's not so much about facing the top checkers of the other team, but about ice time. Messier and Lindros are used to getting 22 minutes plus a game and being on the #1 PP unit. Now they are on the #2 PP unit and getting 15-17 minutes or so.

Lafleur wasn't on the #1 line for 3 years to start his career and put up 50-65 points. Then he gets on the #1 line and boom, 120-135 points.

Messier played behind Gretzky, so he will not have a problem being #2, unless he thinks he should be #1. How will Lindros react to being the #3? We all have seen the messy unhappy Lindros soap opera, and the Messier in Vancouver disaster, so we know what could happen. I'll give the benefit of the doubt and say it wont blow up, but I'm not so sure that you will get the production you are hoping for.

Oh and back to the checking. Richard and Luce certainly weren't facing the top checkers of the other teams, because they were facing the other teams top lines, and they were still putting up their share of points.

Your players will be facing tight checking and reduced ice time, while being called on the hopefully contain my scorers. While many of my guys will be working at their regular role, while facing less checking, simply because you don't have it.

shawnmullin
12-31-2006, 11:24 AM
Personally I'd say as good as Plante and Esposito are, I'm not willing to concede a _big_ edge to Calgary over Martin Brodeur. The guy has won 3 Stanley Cups, a gold medal and a World Cup. He's one of the greatest goalies of all time, especially when the games really matter.

This is not remotely a shot on Plante who I would say is a better option, but boy it's closer in my mind than a few of you seem to think.

Calgary has a lot of depth up front, but to me the key to this series will be that they don't have any forward line that can match up with and shut down either of New Jersey's top two lines. When you guy with gunners like that up front you should have one of the best defensive cores in the league, and they don't.

New Jersey's checking forwads and superior defense stand out enough to me for this to be a Devils win, I'd say in 6 games.

Frightened Inmate #2
12-31-2006, 03:02 PM
Personally I'd say as good as Plante and Esposito are, I'm not willing to concede a _big_ edge to Calgary over Martin Brodeur. The guy has won 3 Stanley Cups, a gold medal and a World Cup. He's one of the greatest goalies of all time, especially when the games really matter.

This is not remotely a shot on Plante who I would say is a better option, but boy it's closer in my mind than a few of you seem to think.


I really do love Brodeur as a goaltender and he is worthy of being a starting goaltender but when he is placed up against a goaltender who is arguably the best goaltender of all time there is no question as to who I would rather have on my team. I think of Brodeur as being a #5-10/12 goaltender of all time but I see Plante as a #1/2 goaltender of all time.



Calgary has a lot of depth up front, but to me the key to this series will be that they don't have any forward line that can match up with and shut down either of New Jersey's top two lines. When you guy with gunners like that up front you should have one of the best defensive cores in the league, and they don't.


While I don't think that the Cowboys have an all-star defense corps I do see them has having a sufficient defensive corps to deal with situations that arise in their own end. With the exception of Ozolinch and Gonchar (who will be used as Powerplay specialists) every defenseman I have on my team is big and is able to take the body and deal with the play in their own end and the Plante factor should be able to make up for any miscues on the part of the defense.

New Jersey's checking forwads and superior defense stand out enough to me for this to be a Devils win, I'd say in 6 games.

I see the offensive advantage as being able to push this series to seven games but I do agree with yourself as to who is going to win the series, the defensive advantage is likely to great to overcome (is that okay to say as voting is already done)/