ATD 12 Bob Cole Division Semi-Final: 1 Medicine Hat Tigers vs. 4 Cairo Desert Dogs
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12-01-2009, 07:04 PM
God Bless Canada
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Bentley reunion
Both teams have excellent, well-built defences, but I see one very substantial edge: at the No. 1 defenceman spot. And that's huge.
Potvin's a superstar. He can carry a team while playing 30 minutes a night. He's the one guy, on either team, who can truly dominate every aspect of the game. Every skill area, every facet, every zone, every area of the ice. A rare breed in that he was, at once, a guy who was an elite offensive and defensive defenceman. And he did it all while playing a strong, physical brand of hockey, and bringing great leadership.
That's huge. Against the skill that the Dogs have, Potvin's the counterpunch. He's the biggest difference-maker in the series, the unquestionable best player. When we were looking at the No. 11 pick, it was Potvin or Mikita. Mikita was hard to pass up. But Potvin and Bentley, or Mikita and Gadsby to start a team? I'd go with Potvin and Bentley.
(I thought of moving Carlyle up to the first pairing in place of Ragulin, but at the end of the day, chemistry won out. Potvin and Rags know what to expect from each other. We're going to go with the guys who got us to this point).
Cairo doesn't have a true No. 1, or even an elite No. 2, someone like a Boucher or a Pronovost. I really like Goodfellow, but he's a very good No. 2. Not a great No. 2. He's not Butch Bouchard, or Carl Brewer, or Marcel Pronovost.
One of the reasons why I've felt that Blake and Fleury will have troubles in the battles along the boards and in front of the net is the size of our defence. Carlyle's the smallest defenceman we have at 5'10, but he's got the naturally stocky, Ray Bourque-like build at 200 pounds. Our defencemen really specialize in the trenches - it's a trait I want in my blue-liners. Guys with good skill and mobility (Ragulin's the only one lacking in speed, but he did survive playing the international game thanks to his size and outstanding anticipation) who can take care of the front of the net and win the battles. I've always viewed winning battles along the boards and in the corners as an art form - maybe the most underrated aspect of the game. (Thank God the league hasn't bastardized it by trying to create a stat for it).
I don't think the Cairo second line will work. It's not a personnel thing; Fleury's good enough to be a first line winger in a 32-team ATD, I have no qualms with Weiland as a second liner. (And I don't have time on national junior A trade deadline No. 1 night to debate Harris's place). But Fleury's going to have a really hard time winning battles. As I said in previous posts, when we had Fleury in ATD 11, we made sure we drafted a big power winger to play puck-winner on that line, because I didn't think Fleury could be the primary puck-winner on a line. And there isn't a guy who can play in front of the net. I don't think they'll generate the chances that their skill level indicates they should, and the chances they do generate, Smith will see.
There have been questions about Sutter's place on the second line. I, for one, haven't questioned Sutter's standing as a second line winger since ATD 7. He's just so friggin' good as a complimentary two-way winger. Such a great player along the boards, and great as an in-tight scorer. I think he's the best of the six Sutter's. And he set the mould for the Sutter's. Lach can win the battles, but that's not what we want him to do. We want to let him focus on being a brilliant two-way player. Let Sutter worry about the corner battles, with Lach there to offer support when necessary.
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