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11-29-2009, 11:13 PM
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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.

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