ATD 12 Bob Cole Division Semi-Final: 2 Kimberley Dynamiters vs 3 Regina Pats
GM: Mr Bugg
Head Coach: Pete Green
Assistant Coach: John Muckler
Sid Smith - Joe Sakic - Larry Aurie
Brian Bellows - Marcel Dionne - Reggie Leach
Thomas Steen - Kent Nilsson - Hakan Loob
Johnny Gottselig - Dave Poulin - Mario Tremblay
Johnny Wilson - Duane Sutter
Ray Bourque - Rob Blake
Kevin Lowe - Adam Foote
George Owen - Bill Hajt
F: Morris Lukowich, Jason Spezza, Russ Courtnall
D: Normand Rochefort, Rick Green
G: Earl Robinson
GMs: seventieslord & jareklajkosz
Coach: Anatoly Tarasov
Gord Roberts - Jean Ratelle - Boris Mikhailov
Dick Duff - Norm Ullman - Bernie Morris
Craig Ramsay - Don McKenney - Tony Leswick
Ernie Russell - Eric Staal - Eddie Oatman
Peter McNab - Boris Mayorov
Paul Coffey - Hap Day
Lester Patrick - Robert Svehla
Frank Patrick - James Patrick
F: Fred Scanlan, Pierre Mondou, Fred Whitcroft
D: Jack Ruttan, Kimmo Timonen
G: Pete Peeters
Wow, really happy to advance to the semis here, and congrats to Kimberley on the first round victory as well. Looking forward to a great series debate!
Absolutely! Congratulations to Regina; this will be a fun series.
I've got some time on my hands, so to kick things off:
-This is really the match-up I wanted. I'm not saying this to denigrate you and seventies' team; I just like a free-flowing game and we're sure to see that what with great skaters like Ratelle and Coffey. However, Ratelle, Ullman, Ramsay and a number of others are also known for good defensive hockey.
-Having said that, I do feel a wide-open series plays to my team's strength. The key to Kimberley's win over Hartford was the duo of Sakic/Dionne and Ray Bourque. Those strengths still hold true in this series, with the added advantages of my overall defense and play from the wings.
Regina's lineup is built on value picks. I'm tickled to see guys like Roberts, Duff and Staal take on more important roles, but can a team be built entirely out of them?
The most obvious example of this is the first line. I can buy Jean Ratelle as a first-line center in certain scenarios, the most obvious being him as the defensive conscious to two wingers that are top-20 offensively all-time, but fall for other reasons.
However, to put him with a bona fide but lower-tier first line RW in Mikhailov and a complimentary power winger in Roberts is not that situation. Going back to ATD 6, Ratelle has never been a first-line center- this includes drafts of varying sizes, of course, but I think it's telling. This isn't even a case of a WWI era player gradually gaining respect with research. Ratelle's name is mentioned every time one talks about the 60s/70s or a big, graceful center. But the results show us that beyond surface compliments about his style or longevity, he's not an elite player capable of driving results by himself in an ATD best-on-best context.
The same critique applies to the second line. Dick Duff's a guy I rate higher than most, but in an ATD, he's a complimentary winger to... well, a player like my second line center, Marcel Dionne. Duff isn't going to elevate Ullman's all that much because Ullman already does all of the little things right. Rather, he would benefit the most from a set of wingers that bring an elite, divergent skillset. Morris was a steal where you got him and was an elite player in his era, but he's not that player.
Ramsay-McKenney-Leswick is definitely among the top checking units in the Draft, but they're going to have to see substantial ice-time. Do you really trust Eric Staal to check Dionne or even the Steen-Nilsson-Loob line? If you can't, can they out-score either one of the deadliest international trios Tre Konor ever had or my second line?
A strong team defense is only one-part the way towards shutting down a run-and-gun offense. Your team needs to be able to score to win, and even if this unit can find time away from checking Sakic, Leach and Dionne to get the puck going in the other direction, I think my defense and goalie can handle them. That doesn't even mention the defensive contributions of my forwards. Sakic's every bit as good as Ratelle defensively, Aurie and Smith were no slouches in digging or playing sound positional hockey, and I've got a terrific checking line.
As in last series, there really isn't much of a comparison to be made. Regina's defense is definitely better than Hartford's, but some things remain the same: Bourque's the best defender on either side and it's not even a horserace, our #2s are about equal individually but suffer when the whole pairing is considered (I'm not worried about Bourque's defense) and your top four contains a player I never thought I'd see in that role.
The advantage here is obvious, but Fuhr is absolutely not a liability. As such, while I'm not worried about having to turn back the tide of Regina's 'offense', Plante's going to see a lot of work. He's going to need to be the MVP again to win.
How Regina Can Win
They have to score goals. That's simple- they just can't keep them out and expect a victory. If seventies and jarel can prove their team is capable of opening up the offense enough to a) not become liabilities b) out-score my forwards c) penetrate my defense and goaltender, it becomes an easier road. But can they? I believe Kimberley is simply a better version of what they aimed to build, and they'll simply be out-classed if they try to go for a wide-open style of hockey.
No offense, but you entirely missed the point of our team. We never built a team to play around a balls to the walls offensive game. We built a team that has a strong commitment to team defense and a quick transition game that relies on speed and passing. Also, I find your evaluations of Roberts and Mikhailov somewhat inaccurate. Roberts is an accomplished offensive player that we showed also had a strong physical dimension to his game. Here are his stat finishes:
- Top-10 in goals 7 times (1st*, 2nd*, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd*, 8th, 9th) *-PCHA
- Top-10 in assists 3 times (2nd, 4th, 10th)
- Top-10 in points 7 times (2nd*, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd*, 5th*, 6th, 10th) *-PCHA
As for Mikhailov:
- Soviet League All-star (1969, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979)
- Soviet League MVP (1978, 1979)
- Top-5 in Soviet MVP Voting 8 times (1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th)
- Top-6 in Soviet League Scoring in 14 of 15 seasons from 1966-1980 (1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th)
- 429 goals, 223 assists, 652 points in 572 Soviet League Games
That is a very dominant offensive record for Mikhailov. On top of that, he was basically the Russian version of Tony Leswick. He started his career out as a checker and there is no mention of him ever sacrificing defensive responsibilities for offense. On top of that, he was a very physical player. He loved to play in front of the net and in the corners. Scoring goals from the slot, much like Phil Esposito, was his bread and butter, and he usually succeeded. He, like Tony Leswick, was also a very mouthy player, often flinging insults to get opponents off their game. If you do plan to play your checking line against our first line, I think your checking line will have a lot to deal with here, especially Steen. Can he handle Mikhailov, mentally and physically? We'll see.
I'm not too worried about the Sakic line, because we have what I believe to be the best two-way third line in the entire draft. Not only are all 3 guys excellent defensively, but the aforementioned Leswick was very tough and his checking assignments usually consisted of guys like Gordie Howe (before Detroit acquired Leswick) and Maurice Richard, so Sid Smith, with no disrespect intended, won't be a terribly huge issue for Leswick to deal with. McKenney was noted as a very good defensive player, and Ramsay is.. Ramsay. I think your wingers on the top line will be effectively neutralized most of the time. Can Sakic do it all by himself? His best success came when Peter Forsberg was playing with him, I believe, but I don't think either of them faced a chechking unit quite like this one.
That brings me to your second line. While Dionne was a very accomplished regular season performer, how will he do in this series? We'll have no problem matching our 2nd line against yours. Norm Ullman and Dick Duff were both very effective defensive players that will match up well to Dionne and Leach, especially physically. I'm not sure that Dionne was ever noted for being a tough guy at all, so Ullman has an inherent advantage in checking him here. As for Leach, Dick Duff should have a similar effect on him as Ullman will have on Dionne. Was Leach physical at all? Even if he was, Duff will be able to at least match that, and still be able to defend against him effectively. I like that your team employs run and gun offense, but I feel you've met an opponent that won't need to win against you in an offensive slugfest, because we have two lines that will be excellent in checking your best lines. And when we do get the puck, we have excellent puck moving defenders on every single pair to get the puck up ice, especially Lester Patrick and Paul Coffey. I see this as a serious issue on your defense corps. Our team has the tools to move the puck out of the zone quickly and efficiently - does yours? Bourque is a given and the first pair is fantastic. I do have questions about the other two pairs.
And then there is the goaltending, of course. Grant Fuhr will absolutely not be a liability here for you, but this is Jacques Plante you need to get the puck past. You believe that we need to match your run and gun offense while not becoming a liability as we do so. I think the exact opposite. We have players that combine excellent defensive play with physicality that will be able to defend against your players effectively, and when they retrieve the puck, they will be able to leave the zone quickly and efficiently. The second D pairing with Foote will especially be exploited because of his lack of speed. I think Regina's strong passing and skating skills throughout combined with the team defense will see us through this series, and that's before Jacques Plante is considered. Last series he apparently had to be the MVP, and this series we will make it a point to prove that is not necessarily the case. Scoring comparisons to follow.
To my eyes, Regina has a better checking line that NJ did... or at least a faster one, which is key against Sakic. But they also don't have Scott Stevens on defense.
A couple of things that interested me about this series...
To me the question is if Kimberley's lines 2&3 can handle another team with strong defensive presence up front, with better defense corps and Plante. Beating Cheevers is one thing, beating Plante though? On the flipside, Regina ain't exactly strong on offense. But with Plante and overall defensive approach, that shouldn't be the decisive factor.
Considering I am your opponent and you are here to try to beat me (and jarek), it was a fair evaluation, no more slanted than it really needed to be (or could be :D) - this post will probably be the bulk of my series argument because the series will be shorter and Mr. Bugg isn't as talkative as our last opponent.
As you can probably tell, I am much higher on Ullman than I am on Ratelle, and for the second straight draft I have my best center on the second line to spread out the talent. (this is why I refer to Ratelle as my "2nd best" center - most teams will have a better player than Ratelle on line 1 but not many have a better 1-2 punch)
Ratelle is a player who can and should gain more respect with research, though. At this point I think over 2/3 of the ATD participants are not old enough to have seen him play regularly, and there may only be 2-3 who saw him play in his prime, so it's not like he's Adam Oates, whose career should be an open-and-shut case. He's generally known as a big, graceful playmaking center who was sportsmanlike and very well-respected, and my bio captured that well. But his skating and defensive play, two things you credited him for, are underrated; they're not things I usually hear other ATD participants say about Ratelle.
But mostly, his goal scoring talent is something that gets lost in all that as well. He could only really be considered an elite (top-5) goal scorer one year, but according to my research, his three top-10 seasons are matched by only 137 other players, his five top-15 seasons are matched by just 115, and his seven top-20 seasons are matched by just 86 others. An all-time great goalscorer, not quite. But a guy who, when judged on his longevity and consistency in burying the biscuit, compares pretty well to guys like Joe Sakic, Milt Schmidt, and Dino Ciccarelli. Many other guys known for being "primarily" playmakers just didn't have his goalscoring skill:
Clarke: twice top-15, one more top-20.
Oates: barely 20th once.
Gilmour: once top-10, never top-20 again.
Francis: Never close to top-20.
Federko: Once top-15, never top-20 again.
Joe Primeau: barely 20th once.
Forsberg, Weight, Chapman: Never top-20.
Aside from Ratelle, my concern is that you underrate Mikhailov. This guy plays in the dirty, mucky areas of the ice and scores big goals. He's all heart and is a born leader. If you look at the HOH top-100 list (a very fine list indeed) it will show you that Mikhailov is definitely not just a lower-tier top-line RW, he's in the top-1/3 - Depending on your thoughts on Kurri, Bathgate, Makarov, and Hull, Mikhailov is the 9th-13th-best RW, and after those names there is a massive dropoff to guys like Cournoyer, Iginla, Bure, Selanne, Neely, and Maltsev.
Second, I would say that Ullman is a rare player that doesn't "need" anything particular around him.* He does so much well that he is the guy who "makes up" for the deficiencies of other players and can go well with just about anyone.
However, if you are one who believes that there are types of players that would benefit Ullman the most, I would argue that, although Morris isn't "that player", as you said, Morris and Duff together are "that player". Between them they have everything a great hockey player should have, like Ullman. You take the talent of Morris and add the little things Duff does, with a nice blend of everything in-between, and you have a very balanced second line that should not have problems.
(*if there is something that Ullman lacks, it is a great playoff resume. He had four excellent playoffs, leading in points twice and has a decent career PPG average but never won the cup; Morris and especially Duff bring big-game, clutch and winning experience that can only help)
Loob is the one I would consider to be the greatest threat. Although he, too, sees a 26% drop in PPG in the playoffs, he's proven to be more able to handle the playoff grind than Nilsson. Still, if we match up third lines and it's Ramsay on Loob, you may as well put a blanket over his head because it's an elite shutdown LW against a RW who, in the grand scheme of things, is likely not a top-64 offensive RW. You stacked your third line with offensive talent, but so did Regina, and they have so many more skills to go along with that offensive talent.
We don't plan on giving them too much icetime, but they will get more than most 3rd lines because they are that good, and Tarasov loves to roll 4 lines.
Aurie is a great all-around player. What can you tell me about Sid Smith's non-scoring skills? He's a two-time Lady Byng winner with 94 career PIMs. I know this doesn't have to mean he was not gritty or good defensively (see Bucyk, Mikita, Boucher, Keon) but I'd like to see something to substantiate that. Until then, I think your 1st line could get really pushed around by either one of our top-2 lines, especially the first. Aurie is the toughest of the three, but he is also tiny by any era's standard.
Which brings me to Aurie. I get that his role is as a glue guy for this line, but when you look at all the criticism we took when we picked Duff for the first line glue guy role (and still undeservedly take for having him on the 2nd line), it's surprising how little flak you've taken for having Aurie up there. A quick comparison of the two:
Aurie exploded to lead the league in goals on year, but aside from that, the two are identical goalscorers. Both twice top-10 and five times top-20. Aurie is the more acomplished playmaker, with three top-10s. (Before moving on from offense, consider Aurie's competition in the 1930s versus Duff's in the 1960s. Night and day. The 30s, for whatever reason, were a bit sketchy for forwards )Duff's toughness for a little guy and corner work are legendary. Aurie was good at that stuff, but probably not at Duff's level. Duff was a playoff monster; Aurie has very little playoff experience, though he performed well and won a cup. Overall, I would take Duff over Aurie any day. I think the other GMs agree. Aurie has been selected at 342 on average in the 4 drafts before this; Duff was taken 299th on average, and only once was selected after Aurie. Then, with that all said, consider that Aurie is your first line complementary player, and Duff is playing that role on our second line.
Theres no doubt that Bourque is better than Coffey. Fully agree. I'm a huge Bourque fan. No sense in arguing that. I think our #2s are fairly equal as well. As pairings, though, I'm not sure. I would call them equal. Day and Coffey are a perfect complementary pair, but I fail to see what Bourque and Blake "do" for eachother.
1982: .852, .883, -31
1984: .910, .899, +21
1985: .895, .882, +13
1986: .897, .895, +2
1987: .908, .899, +9
1988: .883, .869, +14
1989: .894, .893, +1
1991: .896, .896, 0
1993: .875, .896, -21
1997: .929, .919, +10
1998: .906, .910, -4
1999: .898, .918, -20
In 12 playoffs, Fuhr had:
- 3 brutal years (15+ points below average)
- 0 merely "bad" years (5-15 points below average)
- 4 average years (within 5 points of average)
- 4 good years (5-15 points up)
- 1 excellent year (15+ points up)
Plante also had 12 playoffs with 300 or more minutes. In those 12, he had:
- 0 brutal years (15+ points below average)
- 3 merely "bad" years (5-15 points below average)
- 2 average years (within 5 points of average)
- 1 good year (5-15 points up)
- 6 excellent years (15+ points up) (16, 33, 28, 33, 38, 30 points up)
So yes, we can call Fuhr a good clutch goalie, but compared to Plante he is still over his head.
His drop from regular season to playoff PPG is 20%. That's not the greatest but still acceptable. Dionne's 30% drop is simply unacceptable. Joe Thornton, for example, the most modern criticized playoff flop, is currently sitting at -32%. Nilsson, who was called The Magic Man for all the wrong reasons, was -29%.
Percentages aside, I would say Ratelle's .80 PPG from 1967-1981, is pretty even to Dionne's .91PPG from 1976-1987, perhaps a tad better.
Ratelle's PPG during his span was 38th in the NHL among players in the top-100 in points (31+) This is of course skewed by a number of inferior players who got to pile up points in expansion division rounds. (MacAdam, Drouin, Goldsworthy, Goring, Pappin, for example) Only nine players had more points and PPG.
In Dionne's span, he is 31st in PPG, with a total of 25 players ahead of him in both points and PPG.
In any case, their individual playoff records are about equal, with Ratelle of course having twice the experience, more trips to the finals, and better performance relative to expectations, which is important too.
Forget the #2 and #3 rankings. Regina should and will win this series, for a number of reasons:
- Kimberly's first line lacks a big, physical presence. Aurie won't cut it. Sakic and Smith are both small and lack physicality. Mkhailov and Roberts, on the other hand, flank big Ratelle well, with more size and physicality.
- If Dick Duff was going to be out of place on a second line, Larry Aurie is way out of place on a first line. Duff is a better player than Aurie.
- Bellows/Dionne/Leach, although containing the best 2nd line center in the draft, is a very weak line defensively and doesn't match up well to our Duff/Ullman/Morris line. Duff and Ullman in particular are very good skaters who are excellent defensively and along the boards. Will Kimberly's second line ever win a battle?
- First and Second line centers, an area in which Kimberly would expect to have a massive edge in almost any series, is not a massive edge here. Sakic and Dionne are better than Ratelle and Ullman, but not so much that it is a mismatch. Dionne's 30% drop in points-per-game in the playoffs also helps to equalize the matchups.
- Kimberly has one of the better 4th lines in the draft, but Regina's is even better. Eric Staal is big, fast, physical, and has led the playoffs in points. Oatman is tough, gritty, and an amazing leader, not to mention a very good playmaker. Ernie Russell has led the playoffs in scoring on two occasions and was the top scorer of a dynasty. Only Gottselig for Kimberly was ever a semi-elite player. Poulin and Tremblay were role players. Our guys can play roles too; they are just better players.
- Kimberly put together a third scoring line, but so did Regina, and theirs can play defense better than almost any other third line.
- I think Kimberly's third scoring line is going to get eaten alive in a playoff matchup. I don't think it is even as good as our 4th line. Staal hasn't accomplished as much offensively as Nilsson has yet, but does everything else better, especially in the playoffs, where Nilsson does little to nothing. Loob was a good offensive player, but not really a "top-20" kind of guy, aside from one season. Oatman was a PCHA assist leader who was very frequently top-5 in goals and assists in both the NHA and PCHA, was renowned as a star, and has grit and leadership from 32 years of pro hockey experience that will be a major benefit in the playoffs. Ernie Russell is a very deserving HHOFer and one of the best players of his generation. He has a wealth of postseason experience and likely a ton of grit, based on his PIMs. Steen was good, but not Ernie Russell good. These players also tend to see their scoring drop considerably in the playoffs. (29% for Nilsson, 22% for Loob, Steen's 9% is ok, but he's -29 in 49 games where +/- was recorded)
- Regina has an elite offensive presence on every defensive pairing. Kimberly has two, and they are both on the first pairing. Blake is more of a "big PP shot" guy, leaving Bourque to be the only good puck-lugger on the team. He can play a ton of minutes, but not all 60.
- Grant Fuhr is a very good playoff goaltender, but Jacques Plante is an outstanding playoff goaltender. the two achieved similar levels of team success, but I have shown that Plante's individual numbers in the playoffs had a lot more to do with his team's success than Fuhr's did.
- Mr. Bugg, to his credit, did a great job of showing us something about Pete Green we never knew before using team-based statistics. Which is good, because all we ever knew was that he won some cups with the Sens. But, he is no Anatoly Tarasov. Tarasov is a friggin' genius, responsible for the success of an entire hockey nation.
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