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04-07-2012, 12:54 AM
Miller Time
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Originally Posted by Talks to Goalposts View Post
I basically agree with all of this. St. Louis is the kind of team Montreal was in a position to be to start this season if Markov was in the lineup and they can get there again.

I know your not the fondest of microstats but by those measurements Montreal's and St. Louis's forwards were pretty similar then. The linchpin being the a strong two-way centerman at the top of the lineup (Backes in St. Louis, Plekanec in Montreal) that allowed a system based on forward depth to work. Big reason Montreal dominated 5 on 5 to start the year (Subban being pretty comparable to Petroangelo being another).

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole score like a first line but they don't defend like one. In this respect they resemble Krejci's line in Boston. They can be the sword but they'll need the "shield" to go with it (Bergeron in the Boston analogy, Backes line in the St. Louis one). A two way line that matches against opponents best players and comes out at least even.

Montreal has the skeleton of such a unit in place, the leading two-way player in Plekanec and a stud two-way defender to back them up in Subban. A common denominator of great two-way forwards in the league is having a strong two-way pairing behind them (Datsyuk has Lidstrom, Kopitar has Doughty, Bergeron has Chara, Kesler has Hamhius-Bieksa etc.). Gionta's a fine defensive winger as well. Its the third player they are missing currently because Bourque hasn't shown he can be that guy in the slightest. Kostitsyn and Cammaleri were less than ideal in that role but far better than him. Throwing Gomez's cap at Parise and he coming in to do that job would be the ideal solution of course.

Of course if you can find a couple of pure offense wingers to go with Desharnias, Pacioretty and Cole would be ideal players to put with Plekanec themselves, which might end up being easier finds than wingers that can bring it on both ends of the rink.

On the defense. Subban-Gorges is imminently capable of being a top pairing. Emelin-Diaz is a fine third one. Markov is a great start to a second. So finding a decent top 4 for Markov would leave them sitting pretty. If you can't manage that, I think Emelin can grow into that role pretty soon so a quality veteran 5 like what Spacek provided in 10-11 would probably be good enough (someone big would be nice but fundamental defense is probably the quality to look for).
just to clarify... I'm actually very "fond" of micro stats... it's just that I hate the one-track thinking that postulates statistical analysis as a clearly superior way to evaluate an environment as dynamic and "unknown" as a team sport. imo they are a necessary complement to any competent hockey ops team, but the notion of relying solely/primarily on them is wrong... that is wrong IF you have quality people in the right places.

agree very much with your breakdown.

I think the pleks line can go either way... adding a better defensive player to him/gionta and deploying them as a "match-up" line is one possibility, but I'd almost prefer to see us give pleks a great offensive compliment (Pleks is the kind of player who can perfectly complement a "star" winger, but who isn't quite dynamic enough to really highlight a more one-dimensional player like gionta -or cammy/kost imo) which would be just as/or more effective at "unleashing" the Maxpac/dd/cole line...
they had a great season this year despite for the most part being the primary focus for the opposition "shut-down" groups.
if Pleks line was just as dangerous (or more), by default it would lead to tougher match ups for the opposition, thus opening up "space" for DD's line.

I also think that Eller can/will be able to take on greater defensive responsibilities next year, which is why i like the idea of an Eller/Leblanc/Gionta line... Gionta being solid defensively and dangerous offensively would be a nice complement to Eller, and Leblanc will have one more offseason of training under his belt (from all indications, he's a dilligent/dedicated athlete) and he's already shown signs of being the kind of player who can/will be defensively responsible with enough skill to win puck battles and be useful in the offensive zone.

add all of that up, and that's my optimism for a very solid top-9 emerging from the nucleus we have IF we can make 1 key addition...

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