Jim Coleman Conference Final: Minnesota Fighting Saints vs. Ak Bars Kazan
Minnesota Fighting Saints
GM: Nalyd Psycho
Head Coach: Al Arbour
Captain: Dit Clapper
Assistant Captains: Maurice Richard & Guy Carbonneau
#40 Henrik Zetterberg-#26 Peter ťastný-#9 Maurice Richard
#19 Markus Näslund-#25 Jacques Lemaire-#13 Bill Guerin
#21 Harry Westwick-#21 Guy Carbonneau-#16 Bengt-Åke Gustafsson
#22 Dennis Hextall-#15 Jaroslav Holík-#12 Ron Stewart
#4 Bill Gadsby-#5 Dit Clapper
#2 Derian Hatcher-#6 Art Duncan
#3 Frantiek Tikal-#8 Harry Mummery
#1 Hugh Lehman
#30 Tim Thomas
Spares: #14 Mattias Norström, D-#44 Barry Ashbee, D-#11 Art Gagne, RW-#7 Jason Arnott
First Power Play Unit:
Second Power Play Unit:
First Penalty Kill Unit:
Second Penalty Kill Unit:
AK BARS KAZAN
АК БАРС КАЗАНЬ
Coach: Toe Blake
Captain: Sprague Cleghorn
Alternate Captains: Zdeno Chara, Eric Desjardins, Mike Modano
#25 Dave Andreychuk - #10 Jean Ratelle - #68 Jaromir Jagr
#7 Vic Stasiuk - #9 Mike Modano (A) - #33 Zigmund Palffy
#4 Bob Davidson - #18 Walt Tkaczuk - #16 Eric Nesterenko
#26 Mats Naslund - #15 Bobby Smith - #17 Mike Foligno
#8 Johnny Wilson
#14 Barney Stanley
#12 Tom Lysiak
#3 Zdeno Chara (A) - #2 Sprague Cleghorn (C)
#5 Mike Ramsey - #37 Eric Desjardins (A)
#6 Calle Johansson - #23 Petr Svoboda
#44 Alexei Zhitnik
#1 Johnny Bower
#11 Roberto Luongo
Ratelle - Andreychuk - Jagr
Cleghorn - Desjardins
Naslund - Smith - Palffy
Chara - Modano
(Jagr will take extended shifts on PP.)
Tkaczuk - Nesterenko
Chara - Ramsey
Modano - Davidson
Cleghorn - Desjardins
other PKers: Johansson, Svoboda, Ratelle, Palffy, Smith, Davidson, Stanley, Lysiak
Well, this guarantees one team who built from the RW out will make the finals...
I'm not sure I've ever seen two more similar teams go head-to-head in the ATD.
I'd really like to see how Lehman compares to Bower. I've thought Bower is slightly overrated here for a while, but I assume he's better than Lehman. However it wouldn't surprise me if that's not the case.
Bower is overrated because his NHL resume isn't substantially better than Billy Smith's. Bower does deserve extra credit for being the dominant AHL goalie in the O6 AHL before getting a full time NHL job, but I feel like that impresses other GMs more than it does me. I definitely think a team with Bower has to expect to platoon in the regular season.
But this is the playoffs, where Bower does shine.
Two very well coached and constructed teams
I can see both first lines being vulnerable to physical play. Kazan features Jean Ratelle, who was a historically poor playoff performer in NYC before moving to Boston and performing very well in the playoffs. Was it because Boston gave the small Ratelle more physical protection? Andreychuk has very poor playoff numbers for his career. In a previous draft, I speculated it was because he wasnt very useful unless he was planted in front of the opponent's goal, and in the playoffs, he was more likely to find defensemen who could keep him out of the crease. On the other hand, Andreychuk put up pretty good numbers the two playoffs next to super-Gilmour, and he does have Jagr here.
Minnesota'a potential problem with physical play is completely different. All 3 players on their top line can handle themselves, though only the Rocket could be called a power player. The problem is that the Rocket might be a little too eager to handle things himself and get roped into bad penalties if played roughly. On the other hand, Sprague Cleghorn might be even more vulnerable to bad penalties.
I would love to see a detailed comparison of second lines. Markus Naslund vs Palffy, Modano vs Lemaire, and Guerin vs Stasiuk seem like very natural comparisons
I think Desjardins is probably the best dman on either second pair, but Ramsey is probably the worst. Kazan's bottom pairing does not impress me at all.
Johansson impresses me, Svoboda does not.
Johansson does not impress me. Zero relevant finishes in Norris/AS voting, and 4 decent offensive seasons of 51, 55, 65, 52 to 2nd place isn't impressing me.
Their on ice numbers indicate that they very well could have been performing at the same level. And let's face it, neither of them were ever a top-5 defenseman in the league, so no one should have given them any all-star votes (except 1998 when Numminen was a popular borderline candidate) so is it wise to put too much weight on votes that weren't really defensible?
Where as Hugh Lehman was the PCHA (A vastly superior league to the 1950's AHL) best goalie for eleven out of thirteen years.
Another question is, why did Gump Worsley beat out Bower for the Rangers starting job after Rayner retired? Worsley took over in 52-53, but then Bower got the job for 53-54. But then Worsley reclaimed it in 54-55. Bower's numbers in 52-53 were better than Worsley's in either 52-53 or 54-55. This is a mystery I would love to see solved.
How much of Bower's success was a product of Toronto's defence? Six of his seasons, he had another goalie play significant minutes.
Bower: 42 gp, 2.60 gaa & .571 win%
Don Simmons: 28 gp, 2.46 gaa & .652 win%
Bower: 51 gp, 2.11 gaa & .600 win%
Don Simmons: 21 gp, 3.17 gaa & .500 win%
Bower: 34 gp, 2.38 gaa & .500 win%
Terry Sawchuk: 36 gp, 2.56 gaa & .566 win%
Bower: 35 gp, 2.25 gaa & .643 win%
Terry Sawchuk: 27 gp, 3.16 gaa & .476 win%
Bruce Gamble: 10 gp, 2.51 gaa & .714 win%
Bower: 27 gp, 2.64 gaa & .571 win%
Terry Sawchuk: 28 gp, 2.81 gaa & .750 win%
Bruce Gamble: 23 gp, 3.39 gaa & .333 win%
Bower: 43 gp, 2.25 gaa & .437 win%
Bruce Gamble: 41 gp, 2.32 gaa & .594 win%
From this we can tell a few things:
1. Bower was the most consistent of the goalies.
2. Toronto did have a defence that probably benefited goalies.
What we can't tell:
Who played against top teams.
Is it possible to directly compare Bower and Lehman? No. Is there reason to believe there is a significant gap between Bower and Lehman? No.
I don't think Richard's physical player and penalties will be a problem. Remember, there are outside factors that led to a lot of his suspensions and problems:
1. He played on small teams with few tough players.
2. He faced constant prejudicial slurring during games.
3. League authorities refused to give him protection and the benefit of the doubt versus thugs.
All three of those factors should not come into play. Will he take penalties? Of course, will some of them be frustrating? Yes. But will he take so many it's a detriment? Absolutely not.
Isn't there a lot of evidence to suggest that Bower's defense was spectacularly overrated based on shots against totals?
Shots against does not equal quality shots against.
which team has home ice advantage?
main matchup i want is cleghorn and chara against richard and stastny. ramsey and desjardins against naslund and lemaire. at home, davidson will shadow richard as he did in reality. davidson was a physical agitator and he and richard often went to the penalty box together.
i do not mind jagr's line playing against any of minnesota's lines, but i would prefer jagr to avoid gadsby and clapper.
although minnesota's d-men are very big, i think they are also relatively slow. although jagr famously struggled with the big, slow behemoth hal gill,
richard vs davidson
davidson's shadowing of richard is a fairly large part of my bio, but i will write more in depth about it.
montreal were easily the best team in '44, 45 and '46, whereas TML were mediocre. richard seems to have had less success vs TML than other teams. richard scored 7p (5g, 2a) in his last 2 games vs TML late in '44, and davidson seems to have been used to shadow him only starting in the '44 playoffs. in '45, newspapers often mentioned habs' and richard's "jinx," b/c they struggled, especially in toronto. i have not found anything about davidson shadowing richard after '45.
tommy gorman, GM of habs, said in december of 1944 that interference and obstruction of richard was very excessive, and said that TML were the worst offenders. i read a report or column, i think by dink carroll, that said davidson wrapped his arms around richard toward the end of a game, but officials missed it.
richard's scoring vs TML from '44-'46 (including playoffs) was uneven. richard tended to explode at home, and scored much more at home than on road.
vs TML, '44-'46
home: 26g, 10a, 36p in 20 games :amazed:
road: 8g, 4a, 12p in 19 games
2 playoff series in '44 and '45 are perfect examples of this uneven scoring. richard had games of 5g, 2+3, and 4+1 at home, but his highest output on road was 1g.
weak condition of the NHL almost certainly is an important part of the explanation. depth players during WW2 were generally weak. broda also missed '44-'46.
my bio of davidson quotes a '44 report in montreal gazette:
how good was gadsby's D?
there has been some debate about this in last couple of years. gadsby's offensive ability and physicality are well known, but his D is not as well established. gadsby was apparently a rusher for most of his career, and his D seems to have peaked toward the end of his career when he played conservatively.
in gadsby's era, it was common to use only 4 d-men, and star d-men usually played more than 30 minutes. it seems strange to me that his teams would have had such poor defensive performance if gadsby was very good offensively, defensively and physically.
i mentioned this in last ATD:
muzz patrick also said their internal stats show that andy hebenton was effective in a checking role.
this bit from a column by doug vaughan makes me a bit suspicious:
a post by overpass:
i see 2 main explanations of that.
1. gadsby got scored on very much and was not very effective in controlling play.
2. gadsby's teams had truly terrible coaching and depth, despite the small number of teams and smaller rosters, which i think casts doubt on the quality of the O6.
in support of #2 are lloyd percival's measurements of skating and shooting speeds. according to percival's numbers, fastest players were much faster than league average, meaning below average players were extremely slow compared to hull or orr.
i generally do not like that kind of thinking, but '70s would be the period when protection of enforcers would be most useful.
andreychuk's career playoff numbers are skewed by his later career.
age 33 and after: 31p in 75 games ...... (.41p per game)
before age 33: 66p in 87 games ...... (.76p per game)
'97-'01 especially skews his numbers: 11p in 41 games. andreychuk had less TOI in that period and spent most of it with NJD.
rest of career: 86p in 121 games
it seems to me that richard appears more on the PIM's leaderboard, even though cleghorn played against a smaller number of players. players generally played 50-60 minutes, and there were usually fewer teams. cleghorn was basically competing with 20-30 players in PIM, and richard with about 80-90.
when toe blake was habs' coach, he tried to punch an official, but missed. :D
modano is better offensively than lemaire and guerin a bit better than stasiuk.
nalyd may disagree about lemaire. the reason i put modano above of lemaire is that lemaire was usually not his team's offensive catalyst. he usually played with a better or equal offensive player (lafleur, f mahovlich, cournoyer).
modano was almost always the offensive driver of his team.
in defensive play, i think my players are better at each position, with the possible exception of guerin/stasiuk.
lemaire was a good defensive player, but i think his reputation has been exaggerated b/c of his coaching career. lemaire did not PK much, and as far as i know, was generally not used in a checking role. award and AS voting thread says lemaire got a total of 1 vote for selke in his career ('78).
i read a newspaper article in last ATD in which bowman publicly criticized lemaire's defensive play (i am nearly certain it was in early '70s), but sometimes bowman did those sort of things for motivation.
modano was one of the top checking C's in the NHL on a very good defensive team for about 7 seasons, was a primary PKer on a strong PK and had a great selke record (i have said before that i think it underrates him, though, b/c of splitting votes with lehtinen). modano was average defensively early in his career, though.
i cannot understand how guerin got 2nd AS RW in '02. outside the top 20 in scoring, minus player, not the driver of his team's offense, not a complete player, well below several other RW's in scoring. :huh:
no idea why he was picked above bertuzzi.
AHLHOF site says bower was 1st AS 5 times and 2nd AS once, and that mayer was 1st AS 3 times and 2nd AS twice.
based on AHLHOF profiles, i think bower's 5 first AS's is also a record.
mayer broke his jaw in '59, when bower was already TML's starter, and TML reached the finals.
bower's lower GAA but often lower win % probably means he played stronger teams, unless he was very unlucky with goal support. bower certainly benefited from his team's D, but that is normal. i don't see much reason to think he was a product of his team.
in '61, bower was runner up for the hart. in each of '62, '64, '65 and '68, bower got more votes for hart than any teammate. his votes other than in '61 were very low, though, so they do not mean much more than that he was not a product of his team.
i cited this earlier:
is there any other time when a non-elite goalie consistently had such strong sv% numbers?
and bower did not just have nice regular season numbers. he was the primary goalie for a dynasty.
sturminator has found that lehman struggled on long shots, and especially screened shots. http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...11&postcount=4 this must be an important part of my plan.
andreychuk was a great slot man, and is very big. stasiuk, foligno, smith, and all my 3rd liners also played near the net. 3rd liners generally did not have good hands, though. tkaczuk was a good playmaker, but his shot was below average.
i also think minnesota's d-men will help screen lehman. they may be the biggest d-corps in ATD history, and are not the most mobile.
andreychuk's role on PP should be very important. minnesota has several heavily penalized players (richard, hatcher, gadsby, hextall, mummery), so there should be a good amount of time for special teams.
it would be dishonest to claim that long shots or screened shots were a fatal weakness of lehman. it is easier to find reports of him stopping long shots than allowing them. but they were a weakness, and not only when they went directly into the net. if lehman struggled to track long shots and screened shots, he would be unprepared for them even when he had made saves, which would reduce his control of rebounds.
although several of my F's were unphysical, every skater in ATD willingly went to the net for rebounds and loose pucks. minnesota's d-men as a group should be effective in protecting the middle of the ice, but that would also tend to obscure lehman's vision.
lehman's playoff career was not as stellar as his regular season career, in which he dominated PCHA. lehman reached 8 stanley cup finals, winning only 1. first 2 were with relatively weak teams, so i am thinking he should not be blamed for those losses.
a search shows that lehman allowed bad goals on long shots in at least 3 very important series (game 5 in '18, 2g in game 3 in '21 and game 4 vs ottawa in '23). i also found a bad goal on a long shot in '14 regular season.
i think b/c of the different rules of passing, NHL probably used more long shots than PCHA. PCHA was based more on combination, whereas NHL was more defensive. NHL teams generally played a defensive style, and opponents very often took long shots from outside the wall of players.
but that cannot be the only explanation, b/c long shots were not uncommon in PCHA. dunderdale scored on lehman with a long shot in '14.
based on regular season points, Ak Bars Kazan have home ice advantage.
As far as Gadsby's defense, I've never really found anything about his positional game as far as his stick work or poke checking ability or anything like that, but I know he was noted as a great shot blocker. I know that in mine and arrbez's mini bio last year that was noted.
My honest guess is that he was a better version of Rob Blake defensively. He would go out of his way for a big hit (he was definitely noted as a big hitter) but was also a strong shot blocker, which makes me think he's an average defensive player at ES, but a strong PKer.
I think Gadsby was clearly sacrificing D for O when he was putting up big numbers for the Rangers - he almost had to - who else was going to score? I think he showed in Detroit that he could play fine D when he wasn't needed to lead the offense, but then his numbers dipped quite a bit
Edit: but just to be clear, those numbers were slightly better than Doug Harvey and way ahead of everyone else but Kelly
1. Nik Jr. The quotes from Patrick have to be taken with a grain of salt, as you said, he actively disliked marquee players, Gadsby being one of his few marquee guys. So if his praise is rare and backhanded, that's on Patrick, not Gadsby.
2. There is no doubt that the O6 era's depth is either a) overblown or b) screwy. The combination of Montreal and Toronto having an unfair recruiting advantage combined with the fact that many farm teams operated independently of NHL teams and required compensation for player movement meant that some teams were ridiculously stacked, while others were shallow. And it meant that players were buried in the minors when they should not have been, which lead to players being in the NHL that were not as good as players in the minors. And Gadsby's Hawks and Rangers were definitely on the side of shallow and utilizing less than optimal players.
3. Coaching matters. The Hawks and Rangers had a variety of very poor coaches during Gadsby's days who would not utilize him in the best ways. When he went to a team that was not poorly managed in Detroit. (Although Detroit was not a superbly managed team, especially relative to Montreal.) He was able to be an elite defensive defenceman while also being an elite offensive defenceman. As TDMM said, his offence did take a clear step back, but, only Red Kelly and Pierre Pilote, probably two of the top ten offensive defencemen of all time were superior offensively to Gadsby. So he was still more than effective offensively. Like Yzerman, a 20% scale back in offence paid huge dividends. And Al Arbour is a man known to expect a strong defensive performance from every member of his teams. So I am positive the Minnesota Fighting Saints would see the Gadsby that got praise as one of the best defensive defencemen of the 1960's, only with a bit less mileage on his body.
4. vecens, one thing I've noticed when people question Gadsby's defence is that there is an implicit comparison to the Nik Lidstrom school of defencemen. Yes, Gadsby doesn't play like Lidstrom. But is Lidstrom the only way to be an effective even strength defensive defenceman? Scott Stevens doesn't play like Lidstrom, problem? My theory is that what makes Gadsby hard to understand is that there is no comparison in the modern NHL. Gadsby was a man of great pride and work ethic to go along with his great skill. He never gave less than 100% and paid no mind to his own safety. There are depth players who play that way now, but how many people who have the skill to earn 6 million+ play with the relentlessness that could end their career and cost themself millions? None. Imagine if Erik Karlsson played like he was Willie Mitchell in his own end, and you'd start to see Bill Gadsby. On offence he played like he was a franchise player, on defence he played like he was a bad shift away from being out of a job. There just isn't a point of reference for that nowadays. (Note: While Gadsby was often hurt and played like his body didn't matter, he had epic tier longevity, 2nd player to 20 seasons, 2nd to 1000 games played.)
5. This may be pointless sentiment, but when I told my dad that people questioned Gadsby's defensive ability, he laughed. (For the record, he was a Hawks and Bruins fan and not old enough to see Gadsby as a Hawk.)
6. Read my bio for some quotes about his defensive ability.
He was a very good defensive defenseman later in his career as he proved, but isnt this in many ways similar to a Scott Stevens situation, who having looked back on it would have been a MUCH stronger comparison than Blake. Gadsby produced great offense early in his career, then was worse later in his career as his defense got stronger as he focused on it more. Which Gadsby do you get here? I think it's somewhere in between. Gadsby was never bad on defense, but he clearly got much better as he aged and his offense went down. So basically what I'm saying you get here is above-average everything (read: both offense and defense) with Gadsby, but not a master at anything.
Re: the criticism that Gadsby didn't improve his teams when he was traded - one possible response is "Which Original 6 players did have a large immediate impact when changing teams?" It could be that teams were deeper and the average team was stronger pre-expansion, so it was harder for one player to make a difference.
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