AA Draft Semifinals: #2 Pittsburgh Pirates vs #3 Garnish Bulldogs
Coach: Gerry Cheevers
Assistant Coach: Odie Cleghorn
Josef Cerny (A) - Carey Wilson - Andrei Kovalenko
Jean-Guy Gendron (A) - Gerry Meehan (C) - Kristian Huselius
Curt Bennett- Mike Zuke -Mike Corrigan
Andrew Ladd - Matt Cullen - Ryan Callahan
Pentti Lund, Errol Thompson
Danny Markov - Rick Lanz
Marc Staal - Aaron Miller
Terry Carkner - Hannu Virta
Coach: Arne Stromberg
Martin Rucinsky-Chris Gratton-Petri Skriko
Brent Ashton-John Tucker (A)-Trent Klatt
Sergio Momesso-Darren Turcotte-Dainius Zubrus
Greg Terrion-Alan Haworth-Dave Mcilwain
Extras: Shjon Podein and Milan Michalek
John Michael Liles-Craig Muni (C)
Brian Benning-Brooks Oprik (A)
Konrad Johanssen-Steve Konroyd
Extras: Doug Halward and Marc Bergevin
PP 1: Martin Rucinsky, Chris Gratton, Petri Skriko, John Michael Liles, John Tucker
PP 2: Brent Ashton, Darren Turcotte, Dainius Zubrus, Brian Benning, Brooks Orpik
PK 1: Sergio Momesso, Trent Klatt, Brooks Orpik, Craig Muni
PK 2: Greg Terrion, Dave Mcilwain, Brian Benning, Steve Konroyd
Cheevers' bio has an SI article with a few quotes that explained his coaching style well and under Cheevers my team will forecheck aggressively with our forwards and have our defenders play a pretty conservative game. My forwards have a lot of hard-working types as a result to live up to this game plan and Virta will really be the only Pirate defender asked to carry the puck into the offensive zone.
First off, good luck to Bring Back Scuderi. He constructed a really good team once again, best of luck to him here:
Let me take a few moments to break down the series:
Forward Line 1: My #1 forward line consists of Martin Rucinsky, Chris Gratton and Petri Skriko. Rucinsky will be the playmaker here, his 5 seasons of 30 or more assists is pretty good for this level. Gratton, my #1 centre, will bring grit and size to the 1st line; Gratton, I find to be very under-appreciated. He has 568 career points in his NHL career. I expect him to provide grit and playmaking to my team. Petri Skriko will be the sniper of this line. His career was a little to short but when he played he played decent, having 4 seasons of 30 or more goals. Having 2 good playmakers on his line in Rucinsky and Gratton should only help Skriko.
BBS Forward Line 1: I like your 1st line a lot, I expect it to match up well against mine. Josef Cerny was one of the better Czech players of his era and should really be looked at in the AAA or even the MLD draft. He was a target of mine early in this draft so good pick there. Wilson's a really good playmaker who put up better numbers than you would think. Kovalenko may appear a bit lost on this line. He did put up some good numbers but had a reputation for being inconsistent.
Advantage: Garnish Reason: Kovalenko's incosistency really hurts Pittsburgh here, other than that his 1st line matches up well with mine.
Garnish Forward Line 2: I picked Ashton out of my always liking him as a player but the guy put up good numbers in his career and should do so for my team. His 4 60 point seasons should only help him here. Much like Ashton I picked Tucker as I liked him as a player when he was playing. His 4-30 Assist Seasons should go well with Ashton who had 3 seasons of 30 more goals. Finishing off this line is Trent Klatt. Klatt always had a reputation for being a good 2-way player which is why I drafted him. I think he'll provide good defense for the team along with a few offensive plays.
Pittsburgh Forward Line 2: Gendron was another target of mine coming into this draft, he was the type of player who did everything good so a solid pick for you. The day you picked Meehan I was set to pick him, myself. The guy was a good playmaker and should serve your team well as its captain. Kristian Husselius was more of a playmaker than I realized. His injury history concerns me a little but his career numbers make up for that.
Matchup Thoughts: Pittsburgh may have a slight advantage here, they do lack a game breaker but I like their line's all around capabilities a little more than mine, it depends on how Husselius gets on with his injury concerns.
Garnish Forward Line 3: I drafted Momesso for his strong defensive game, Momesso was seen as one of the key reasons behind Vancouver's surprise run to the Cup finals in 1994, I look for him to perform the same role here. Turcotte adds goal scoring to my 3rd line, he had 5 seasons of 20 or more which is pretty good from 1 of my bottom 2 lines. Rounding out this line is Dainius Zubrus. Zubrus reads as a player who does everything really good, I'm counting on him for being a playmaker for Turcotte on this line.
Pittsburgh Forward Line 3: Here's some trivia sports fans: Curt Bennett was the first American-born player to score 30 goals in a NHL season, he appears to be the goal scorer of this line. Like Turcotte he has an All Star Game appearance. Mike Zuke had 3 impressive seasons when it came to assist totals, that's pretty good for a 3rd line, he was a solid pick for you. Corrigan reads as your Sergio Momesso only with better offensive numbers. He was a versatile player, having scored 20 goals at all 3 forward positions.
Matchup Thoughts: Garnish has a slight advantage here, while Zubrus never had 40 assists in a season at any time, he does have 9 20 assist seasons. Bennett's 20 goal seasons are 2 less than Turcotte's (3 for Bennett to 5 for Turcotte). I think Corrigan's a little better than Momesso but I am happy with Momesso here.
Garnish Line 4: Terrion's niche was as a penalty killer who could score the odd goal, I expect him to play more of a defensive role on my team. Allan Haworth was my favourite find of this draft, he was a really good playmaker and a decent defensive player (The role he'll play on this team). Mccliwain was another journeyman that my team drafted. Mccliwain will be counted on solely for his defensive game here.
Pittsburgh Line 4: Ladd is another player I've always liked, the guy has everything you like in a player and should only get better. His 2 Stanley Cups in only a few seasons doesn't hurt his case either. Matt Cullen completes your centre tandem and what a tandem it is. Cullen has 4 30 assist seasons to his credit which is good for anyone at this level little lone a 4th liner. Callahan is another good pickup for you, he is known for his 2-way play which should serve him and the rest of your team well.
Matchup Thoughts: Another almost equal matchup. I give myself a slight edge because of Haworth but this battle could go either way.
Defensive Pairing 1 (Garnish): Liles is one of the better power play quarterbacks taken in the AA draft this year. He has 3 40 point seasons so far in his career and is on pace for another this season. Craig Muni will not be providing much offense but he will still provide the Bulldogs with great defensive game, he was an easy choice as my captain and seemed to be a popular choice here when I picked him.
Defensive Pairing 1 (Pittsburgh): Danny Markov had a short NHL career but while he was in the NHL, he was a solid defensive contributor. Rick Lanz was a really good offensive defenseman, similar to Liles. He has more 50 point seasons than Liles (2 to 0) but Liles has more 30 point seasons than Lanz (7 to 3).
Matchup Thoughts: Another almost equal matchup, because Liles point totals are more consistent I give the edge here to Garnish.
Defensive Pairing 2 (Garnish): When I was scouting for the AA draft I was surprised to see Brian Benning having such good point totals (7 30 point seasons), as a 2nd offensive defenseman option he should be alright. Much like Craig Muni, Brooks Orpik won't provide much offense but the guy has been a solid defenseman for Pittsburgh during his career.
Defensive Pairing 2 (Pittsburgh): Before his concussion Marc Staal looked like he was developing into a top 10 defenseman, good to see him back with the Rangers. Aaron Miller was another good defensive defenseman during his career, good pairing.
Matchup Thoughts: While I like the Staal-Miller pairing it does lack a gamebreaker, Brian Benning is probably not your traditional offensive defenseman I'll take him as a 2nd offensive defenseman option over Staal or Miller, advantage Garnish.
Defensive Pairing 3 (Garnish): Johanssen was a great 2-way defenseman, perfect for a shutdown pairing, he should pair well with Steve Konroyd, who reads as the prototypical shutdown defenseman. This pairing should serve me well.
Defensive Pairing 3 (Pittsburgh): Terry Carkner was another target for me, he was a really good shutdown defenseman, solid pick. Hannu Virta was a good offensive defenseman from Finland who saw some action in North America, good pick.
Matchup thoughts: I think Virta may get lost on a 3rd pairing especially matched up against a shutdown pairing like Johanssen and Konroyd, Carkner and Virta is a good pairing but not a shutdown one.
Goaltending (Garnish): Urpo Ylonen represented Finland at 8 World Hockey Championships and was voted the tournament's best goalie in 1970. Rick Wamsley is going to be a solid backup. He has over 200 wins in the NHL to his credit.
Goaltending (Pittsburgh): I hadn't heard of Jimmy Foster before this draft but as I read up on him now he was a solid goalie. Back when England was known as a hockey playing nation Foster was seen as their biggest star, solid pick. Wayne Stephenson reads as a consumate backup, solid pick.
Matchup Thoughts: This is another close battle between the 2 teams but I think Ylonen and Wamsley collectively are better than Foster and Stephenson due to their experience, should be a close match.
Final Thoughts: This is going to be a close series, aside from the 2nd defensive pairing lacking an offensive guy I don't see any problems with Pittsburgh's roster. Once again Scuderi picked a solid lineup, kudos to him, I look forward to Scuderi's rebuttal to this, good luck to him.
Ashton is also the only player to score 40 goals. Obviously Cerny doesn't really compare here but he's probably my best goal-scorer. Also Gendron scored most of his points pre-expansion so I couldn't use his adjusted points per season. Turcotte, Zubrus, and Zuke were thrown in at the end as they're all gonna log PP time on our second units.
Brent Ashton 12 points for 7th in '87
Errol Thompson 11 points for 6th LW in '76
Curt Bennett 3 points for 9th LW in '76
Gerry Meehan 1 point T8th for LW in '71
Kristian Huselius 2 points for T17th in '07
Dave Mcllwain 23 points for 7th
Ryan Callahan 51 points for T10th in '11, 1 point for T64th in '09
Andrew Ladd 30 points for 14th in '09
Mike Zuke 6 points for T10th in '81, 5 points for T15th in '85
Brent Ashton 5 points for T15th in '85
Alan Haworth 3 points for T17th in '86
Dainius Zubrus 3 ponts for T30th in '03
Greg Terrion 1 point for T29th in '84
Kristian Huselius 8 points for 33 in '07
Matt Cullen 3 points for T40th in '11
Marc Staal: 7pts for 13th in '11
Aaron Miller: 2pts for T19th in '02
Craig Muni: 1pt for T20th in'89, 1pt for T20th in '90
Liles: 1pt T28th in '07
J-M Liles: 1 vote for T17th in '08
Marc Staal: 1 vote for T17th in '11
I think our first lines are fairly even. Wilson and Kovalenko will be asked to work hard forechecking and Cerny should serve as a potent finisher. Kovalenko will be valuable parking himself in front of the net on the PP as well. He's definitely the line's biggest question mark though with his inconsistencies. I think Garnish's line is pretty similar. Rucinsky will serve as the primary playmaker and Skriko has a good case for the best goal-scorer in this series. However, his consistency will be the biggest issue for this line, like Kovalenko, and Pelletier particularly mentions the questions that surrounded his game.
I think Pittsburgh has a slight advantage when it comes to second lines. Tucker and Meehan were both good scoring centers and pretty neck and neck. Huselius is probably the most dynamic player here and actually has a solid record for being the only active player in either top 6. I like him over Ashton who is more of a solid scorer and compiler than dynamic scoring forward. Gendron and Klatt are both complimentary hard-working types, but I like Gendron's offensive game better here and overall I prefer my second line.
The third lines seem pretty even. Turcotte and Zuke are solid scoring centers who provide a defensive conscience. Zuke didn't produce the same amount even strength as Turcotte, but he does have two years of minor Sele votes which only he and Callahan can claim. I think my wingers are more hard-working and defensively reliable but Garnish's offensive output here is definitely greater. Corrigan and Bennett are decent scorers for their blue collar styles but Zubrus is probably the best scorer here. Momesso is big and when he's on he brings a pretty dynamic game with his size and skill. Pelletier claims Momesso always brought his physical game during the big games or playoffs so whether he can get his scoring going too should affect this line. I like my line's defensive capabilities here over Garnish but they definitely have an edge offensively.
Garnish takes a slight edge in fourth lines. Haworth with his scoring and two-way play he's the best player on line. Cullen's no slouch and valuable in a variety of ways. Mcllwain, Terrion, and Callahan are three pretty good PK guys. Ladd can fill in any role and will provide a solid forechecking presence.
Liles is definitely the best pure offensive defender here and most gifted on the PP. Muni is definitely a good player here too and while his TOI finishes aren't as high are Markov or Lanz, it's because he was on very good teams. He's probably the best defender in the series. Markov's worthy top pairing guy and a better two-way guy than Muni but that's all he has over the Bulldogs' rearguard. I think Lanz is better all around than Liles too. He logged a decent bit of PK time on his teams and Liles has never really been used in that role. I'd rather have Lanz out there for tough ES minutes than Liles and I think this difference provides a case for the Pirates pair to come out ahead here.
For the second pairs I agree, I think its almost similar to second lines. They both have solid pieces and are constructed well enough, but one lacks a clear dynamic element the other has. Staal has been a top pairing defender for the past two years and the only defender in the series with an all-star game appearance. Miller is a physical defender capable of playing in the top 4. Benning however just brings a presence that neither player on Pittsburgh's pair does. He logged good minutes himself while providing this offensive presence. Orpik and Muni are also the only defenders who have won the Cup in this series.
Our third pairs aren't similar at all, with Virta being the only offensive-minded player. Konroyd and Johanssen seem to be reliable defensively but neither are too physical. Konroyd has a very slight edge over Carker in TOI ranks but I think Terry may be more valuable due to his aggressive style. He's definitely the toughest defender in this series. Virta on the other hand wasn't too valuable defensively but he was a force offensively. His offensive game rivals Benning and Liles and with so many defensively reliable forwards filling the Pirates lines should allow Hannu to play effectively. He didn't jive much with Bowman as coach and I could see him irritating Cheevers as well but he did let some offensive guys carry the puck so Virta shouldn't be too out of place. Garnish's pair is definitely safer for a defensive zone draw but Virta and Carkner bring specific and valuable elements that round out the Pirates defensive group nicely.
I'll be collecting votes for this round starting today.
Remember to vote for the winner, number of games, and 3 stars of the series.
Results will be posted on Friday.
Please send your votes to me via PM
In a 6 game series, the Pittsburgh Pirates emerge victorious.
3 stars of the series:
also with strong showing: Martin Rucinski, Marc Staal, Gerry Meehan
Congrats to BBS on a hard fought series, this could have went anyway.
Another close series, thanks to Tony for a solid and close fought matchup
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