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11-25-2009, 02:49 PM
  #4
overpass
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I think Grand Rapids and Renfrew are both fairly well balanced teams. I don't see much to attack on Grand Rapids. My plan is to keep the scoring chances close and then Hasek can make the difference.

While I'm not sure this is the best way to compare teams, I'll compare units against units because it's easy.

First lines
Kharlamov-Fedorov-Gilbert vs Bucyk-Apps-Recchi

Your top line is solid. Apps is just terrific. Bucyk and Recchi have some similarities – both were good even-strength scorers in their younger days and then reinvented themselves as power play stars in their 30s. Neither is anything special on a #1 ATD line at even strength, but both can support Apps well.

Kharlamov is a game-breaking offensive talent, especially freed from Tarasov’s system. Fedorov will provide excellent defensive play and transition, supporting Kharlamov perfectly, and he has the speed and skill to keep up offensively. Fedorov will also thrive as the unquestioned #1 centre – his best season came in 1993-94 when Yzerman missed time, and he always resented being used as the jack-of-all-trades by Bowman while Yzerman got the #1 centre minutes. Here he’s the man at centre, with the minutes and the linemates to thrive. He's also known for bringing it in the playoffs. Rod Gilbert is a fine complement, with his speed and finishing ability. While none of these three are classic physical players, none are shrinking violets either. They'll beat you with speed and skill.

Second lines

Elias-Crosby-Palffy vs Howe-Foyston-Hossa

Foyston and Crosby are both the focal points of their lines, and both have played well in the playoffs as team leaders. I think Crosby’s playoff accomplishments are a little more impressive coming in a far deeper era for talent, but Foyston does have a longevity edge.

Your second line is very solid defensively, but mine isn’t too bad either.

I question Hossa’s scoring ability at even strength to play on an ATD 2nd line. All of his big scoring seasons since 2003-04 have included a ton of points on the power play. He’s never been a top-10 scorer at even strength, and is significantly worse than Palffy as an even strength scorer.

In contrast, Elias is at his best at even strength. His even strength scoring numbers are solid, and his plus-minus is excellent. Howe is hard to compare, but as I see it his main selling points are his versatility and durability. I’ve read that he played big minutes in all situations, which speaks to his all-around play, but in the context of your team he won’t have nearly as much opportunity to put up points.

Third line
Carbonneau is a great start for a third line. I like Ellis as well. Davidson seems a little scoring challenged to be a top-9 forward.

My third line wingers, Bourne and Armstrong, were both great playoff scorers on dynasties. Armstrong actually led the 62-64 Leafs in playoff scoring, and Bourne was third in forward scoring on the Isles, behind only Bossy and Trottier. Primeau doesn’t have the same playoff credentials, but he’s playing as a #3 centre instead of the #1 role he played for much of his career. He’s in a role similar to the one he played for Team Canada in 98 or for Philadelphia in 03/04, and he’s in a position to do well.

None of my 3rd line forwards are top-end defensive players, but all are good to very good, and they all have great size. Bourne’s a phenomenal skater, Primeau can cover a lot of ground quickly, and Armstrong is a fair skater – he gets a bad rap for his late-career play after multiple knee injuries.

Faceoffs are also a strength of my line. Primeau was an elite faceoff man through his career, and he can be aggressive knowing that Bourne will step in if he’s thrown out of the circle. Carbonneau is also excellent, but having Bourne available may give Renfrew an edge.

Fourth line
I like my fourth line, but there’s not much difference here, IMO. I think Shadrin can step into a 2nd or 3rd line role easily if necessary, but fourth lines rarely make the difference.

Power Play - Grand Rapids
Bucyk-Apps-Foyston-Cameron-Park and Recchi-Howe-Hossa-Laperriere-Johansson

vs

Howe-Fedorov-Ramsey-Kasatonov-Hasek, Bourne-Shadrin-Griffis-Numminen-Hasek, and Primeau, Armstrong, Elias, Gagne, and Egan will also see time depending on who is fresh and who is in the box.

I have to admit you have a terrific power play. I noted that Bucyk, Recchi, and Hossa were all more PP than ES scorers at their best, and that's to your benefit on the PP. I think you are lacking a dangerous point shot on the second unit - Laperriere was taken off the Montreal 1st unit early in his career because he didn't have a quick release on his shot.

However, I think I have an excellent penalty kill to match up with your power play. Hasek is the best penalty killer on either team. Howe and Fedorov are a terrific combination of smarts, skill, and speed at the forward position. Ramsey, Kasatonov, and Griffis have great defensive skill, size, and strength to keep the front of the net clear. Bourne, Shadrin, Primeau, Armstrong, Elias, and Gagne can also kill penalties, with Bourne and Shadrin as the second forward pair, so I'll always have fresh legs out there. Shadrin is most famous in Russia for an epic 2-minute 5-on-3 penalty kill against Czechoslovakia, and should do well here also.

Power Play - Renfrew
Kharlamov-Primeau-Crosby-Howe-Fedorov
Gilbert-Nolan-Palffy-Griffis-Egan

vs

Carbonneau-Ellis-Ludwig-Laperriere-Vezina
Howe-Davidson-Park-Seiling-Vezina
Apps-Hossa-Johansson-Cameron-Vezina.

Some may have questions about Primeau on my first unit. I’ll say in his defence that Scotty Bowman played him on Detroit’s first unit in the 1995 playoffs, on a team with a ton of talent. He was there for exactly the same role – to win faceoffs and create havoc in front of the net, clearing room for his highly skilled teammates to work. Bowman said later that Detroit lost the final when Primeau went down to injury, because his ability to win faceoffs and give them puck possession on the power play was so vital.

Howe and Fedorov are both great skaters and will allow Renfrew to gain the zone easily. They won't allow many shorthanded chances against, and Fedorov’s big shot is dangerous from the point. Kharlamov and Crosby have the high-end skill to break down the defence and create chances.

Nolan is taking faceoffs on the second unit. He should do fine - he has taken over 3000 faceoffs over the last decade since the NHL tracked them, a third of them while shorthanded (which are more difficult to win), and has won 49%. Palffy and Gilbert will be the main creators on the second unit, Egan brings his shot which was the hardest of his time, and Griffis will be strong in skating the puck up and moving the puck.

Your team, like mine, is deep in penalty killers, which will help keep fresh legs out there. Carbonneau is excellent, Ludwig is probably at his best here, but it's not a top PK without a top goaltender.

Conclusion
Clearly the voters thought Grand Rapids had a better group of skaters than Renfrew, going by the regular season. I can't say that Renfrew's skaters are better, but I think they are very close. With guys who step it up in the playoffs like Fedorov, Crosby, Armstrong, and Bourne, and with Hasek in goal, I think we should win this.

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