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05-23-2011, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post

Top pairing: *

•I think the Swamp Devils have one of the best shutdown pairs in the draft, but I agree with overpass that his pair is a bit better.

However, I think it's just because Gerard is a better version of Coulter. I don't think Pronger is an improvement over Quackenbush at even strength. Pronger's advantages are his proven ability to QB the PP and using his size and strength in front of the net on the PK. I think it's telling that when Pronger and Niedermayer played together, Niedermayer was the top guy at even strength, but Pronger was the top guy on both special teams.

•Pronger vs M Richard is an interesting matchup because both men have the same weakness - a bad temper. If M Richard takes a dumb penalty, I lose my top player. If Pronger does something stupid, they lose their top penalty killer.

Depth defensemen:

•Tough to compare because of some of the mystery surrounding Bullet Joe Simpson. It's very clear that Bullet Joe and Babe Pratt anchor each team's depth defensemen. I'm not sure who is better. Anecdotes suggest Simpson is even better that Pratt at rushing the puck. But Pratt's physical play is much more talked about.

Bilyaletdinov and Bergman seem similar - neither was ever that close to a superstar, but both were very good defensemen for a long time. Both had their career highlights in international play - Bilya in the 81 and 84 Canada Cups, Bergman in the 72 Summit Series. Both compliment the dominant defenseman of each pair well.

I'd say that Ottawa's pair provides more offense, and NJ's provides more physical play. I'm not sure I either pair is better at positional defense, so I think the physical play of NJ's pair will make them more effective in their own zone. Seem pretty even to me overall.

•I like the Dan Boyle x factor as a guy who can play on the NJ bottom pair and move up to the second pair in offensive situations. I think having him in the lineup overcomes any offensive edge that Simpson has over Pratt.

•Ottawa's bottom pair is solid defensively and provides the size and physicality your second pair otherwise lacks.

Overall, I think NJ has a small advantage in depth defensemen because Pratt/Boyle will provide more puck movement than Simpson alone.

I realize that moving the puck isn't the purpose of Ottawa's bottom pair, but I think the small defensive edge NJ's middle pair probably has is just as important as the larger defensive edge Ottawa had on bottom pairs, considering how Manu minutes bottom pairs usually play.
A few points:

Yes, Niedermayer played tougher minutes when he and Pronger played together. On the other hand, that version of Pronger was a bit past his best years, and less mobile than he had previously been. From about 1997-98 until his knee and wrist injuries in around 2002, Pronger was possibly the best even strength defenceman the NHL has seen since Ray Bourque in his prime. He was huge, mobile, tough, skilled, was a lethal breakout passer, and was dangerous in the offensive zone as well.

Pronger, not MacInnis, played against the other teams top lines while playing in St Louis. (No, they weren't a pairing at even strength - they each played right defence on separate pairings, and played together on special teams and the occasional ES shift at the end of the period or the end of the game.)

From the AP on April 22, 1999:
Pronger also shadows the other team's best scorer, and that means a rematch with Keith Tkachuk in the first game of the Blues-Coyotes first-round playoff series tonight in Phoenix.
Pronger slowed down a little after his injuries, IMO, although he was still very effective at even strength. If he was playing behind Niedermayer...well, Niedermayer was a top-3 defenceman in the league at the time.

Not much to add on your second pairing comparison. I like my guys, but your guys are pretty good too. Good work on the Bilyaletdinov bio, I hadn't known a lot about him but he looks better than some of the 70s guys that Chidlovski loves. I preferred Bergman over some of those guys, thought they were a bit overrated.

My third pairing will get a fair amount of work. Irvin will leverage their defensive abilities with a lot of defensive zone faceoffs in particular, including second unit PK time. They'll have an impact defensively. So I don't agree that you have an advantage in depth defencemen.

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