ATD 12 Bob Cole Division Semi-Final: 2 Kimberley Dynamiters vs 3 Regina Pats
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11-30-2009, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Regina, SK
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
) - 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.
Originally Posted by
-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.
Your centers are better; no question. I am not sure if you saw it (probably not, it got lost in the pages of debate) but I named your team as one of six of 32 in the ATD that had a "second best center" better than Ratelle. Strangely enough, four of those teams were in our division. So I actually feel very good about our centers, much like I'd feel great having Sawchuk and going up against Plante. He's not the best, but he should not be a weakness.
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.
I'm really surprised to hear that Ratelle has never been a first line center before. Last ATD I got Regina to the semis with Darryl Sittler, a great player but inferior to Ratelle, as my first-liner. Ratelle is about 36th on my list of centers so it's not like he can't do the job. (on that note, this is a 32-team draft now, which loosens up the criteria for who can play what roles)
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.
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.
I would say that Ullman, especially in a second line role, doesn't need to be elevated by anyone. He's going to be the one doing all the elevating. He's one of the top second liners in the draft (in a 32-team draft, there won't be many top-100 players on second lines, and yes, Dionne might be the best)
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)
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?
They are a great line. Not only can they defend like a shutdown line, they can score like some second lines. I'm certainly not worried about your 3rd line. They were probably my biggest concern about the team when ranking for voting. Steen is a good two-way player but only really saw brief glimpses of being an elite player offensively or defensively (barely 10th in assists once, 8th in selke voting once) Nilsson is a very highly talented offensive player, but as one-dimensional as they come, and soft as butter. His playoff record is also very suspect, both numerically (29% decrease on PPG) and by reputation. The very underrated McKenney is far less flashy but a much better offensive player and, it goes without saying that he's much better defensively and in the playoffs.
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.
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.
Yes, Sakic is as god as Ratelle defensively. Overall we have more in the way of grit and two-way play in our forwards and aside from at center, I'm not sure your talent level (scoring ability) is going to make up for it.
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
complementary player, and Duff is playing that role on our
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.
I think Svehla was well-defended last round and I can refer you to those arguments for reference.
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.
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.
I would not call Fuhr a liability, no, but he's still a bottom-tier starter. (not right at the bottom, but somewhere in there) This is a playoff series, which is a good thing for Fuhr. He's known for being a good playoff goalie. At the same time, I would not want to see him get a "free pass" in the playoffs because he is Fuhr. He's still human. Here are Fuhr's save percentages in the playoffs compared to the league average in all seasons that he played 300+ minutes:
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.
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.
We will get to that
Originally Posted by
A couple of things that interested me about this series...
Ratelle and Dionne both get another chance to shake their labels as playoff chokers. Each has a good chance of doing so, with another top centre to take the pressure off.
I know Ratelle has never won the cup, but was he really a choker? as a Ranger he was the best they had and led them as far as he could. As a Bruin he ran into the tough Hab teams; not much he could do about that.
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.
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