Thread: Our defense
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10-07-2011, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MathMan View Post
Because I evaluate D-man on results rather than eyeballs and reputation; and Montreal has better players and the unit is better constructed.

Subban can outscore top competition with Hal freaking Gill as his partner. He's better than anyone the Leafs have.

Much-disliked Spacek somehow has managed to be +9 both years he was with the Habs (2nd and 1st on the team, only behind Andrei Markov once) while playing tough minutes out of position. Advanced stats tell us this didn't happen by chance. He's been a perfectly fine top-4 D-man for the entirety of his Habs career.

Gorges is also an extremely solid defensive-minded top-4 D-man who can limit scoring chances even against tough opposition.

Toronto's blueline, by contrast, is full of players longer in reputation than ability (Phaneuf, Schenn) and sorely lacking in vital puck movement skills. Individually the players are not bad, but the unit as a whole is poorly constructed. It gets a lot of praise for its size and physicality, which obviates the fact that these do not constitute defense on their own, and that the unit is very low on puck-movers.
We have one puck mover with NHL experience and that is Subban, they have one and it is Liles. We have a puck mover who is a rookie (Diaz) and they have one who is a rookie (Gardner). I would rate Phaneuf ahead of Campoli in that area. I don't consider Gorges or Spacek to be a tremendous puck moving defensemen, certainly no better than Gunnarson and probably not as good.

Maybe I am over-rating the Toronto defense here but it seems to me that it is a unit that has a reasonable balance among size, skill and toughness. I wouldn't gloat about how much superior we are in that area just yet.

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