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08-30-2011, 06:37 PM
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Philadelphia's Achilles Heel

Philadelphia's Top 2 Lines are going to get roughed up

Hockey is a physical sport, a sport where a large percentage of the game is spent battling for the puck "in the trenches" (in the corners, in front of the net, etc). And the ability to battle for the puck is a distinct weakness for Philadelphia's top 2 lines.

Joe Pelletier's profile of Robbie Ftorek starts with the damning phrase, "Although he was too small to make a major impact at the National Hockey League level..." Ouch. Now, small players have carved out successful careers at high level of hockey, but if I had drafted Ftorek, I'd sure want to give him protection. Philadelphia has not done this. McDougall is an offense-only player. Philadelphia is relying entirely on Red Green to provide a physical presence, and I think he's a weak one.

One vague quote about "handling the rough stuff" is perhaps enough to make Green a power-forward-lite, but next to someone like Ftorek whose size was a problem in real life, I'd want someone tougher. In fact, there is specific reason to believe that Red Green does was not an intangibles-laden player. In Green's best season by far (1924-25), he finished 5th in scoring, but only 14th in Hart voting. His linemate and brother, Shorty Green, was 8th in scoring but finished 9th in Hart voting, so obviously Shorty brought much more away from the puck than Red.

I can definitely buy Red Green as something of a physical presence and a puck winner, but I certainly don't buy him as adequate protection for a guy like Ftorek, whose size was a known issue in the NHL. I can see Eden Hall's more rough and tumble defensemen like Jack Evans and Garth Butcher throwing Ftorek around like a ragdoll and his linemates not being able to do anything about it.

Philadelphia's second line appears to lack a puck winner entirely. Backstrom's Capitals are the perfect example of a team that has the talent to dominate the regular season, but other than Ovechkin (who isn't here today), lacks the grit to do anything in the postseason. Tanti was an offensively-inclined player who would throw big hits sometimes, but I don't think was known as a guy who would battle for pucks. Charlie Sands is a good defensive conscience who is adequate offensively, but where is the grit? Who on Philadelphia's second line would dare battle in the trenches with the likes of Jack Evans?

Eden Hall, on the other hand, does not have such a problem. While McGimsie, Drozdetsky, Stastny, and Ribeiro are all strictly scorers, Mickoski and Dahlen are two of the best diggers in the draft.

"had size and also speed."
"6'1" frame was difficult to bump off the puck"
"a fine two- way worker"
"Nicholas Mickoski, the 30 year old Winnipeg digger who for three seasons was the most diligent worker on the Chicago Black Hawks, labored long and hard again last night,"

I have a whole section of Dahlen's profile on his boardwork and am not going to post it all, but I'll post some of it here:

"he used great balance and core body strength to protect the puck with his body expertly. He was extremely effective down low and in the corners and on the boards. He would then drive to the net or find an open man with a strong pass. In a different era he would have been the perfect fit to compliment the Sedin Twins."
"Ulf Dahlen, a big power forward who scored more than 300 goals in 900-plus NHL games, was the pioneer of the 10 and 2." The 10-2 is the style of footwork NHL players now use to protect the puck behind the net.
"When Ulf Dahlen goes into the corner for a loose puck, he always seems to come out with it. Considered one of the top puck-protection men in the league..."

Conclusion: Eden Hall's defensemen have the ability to force Philadelphia's scoring lines into the type of perimeter game that does not succeed in the playoffs. Eden Hall's scoring lines do not have such a problem.

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