Bob Cole Divisional Semifinals: Chicago vs. Philadelphia
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04-20-2012, 08:13 PM
Hawkey Town 18
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Chicago, IL
My thoughts on this matchup...
First one lineup change (sort of)...Quackenbush will be the regular on the #2 PK unit...Philly's second PP unit is too good to go with Green (although he may see some time at F on the PK).
This one is pretty easy...Holecek is an average to slightly below average starter and Barrasso is a low-end starter. This will be an advantage for Philly. I would like to mention that one thing Barrasso gets criticized for is inconsistency...I feel that I have put Barrasso in about as favorable of a situation as he could be in, which should help bring the "good Barrasso" out. Here are some of the things I think will help:
1. He is on an offense oriented team which is the situation where he played best.
2. None of his defensemen are elite puck rushers where you would always want them with the puck, so he should be able to take advantage of his great puck handling ability.
3. He had a solid backup in the regular season to prevent him from being overworked/injured, which were issues he had in real life.
4. His backup is not a big game goalie at all (see CC 1981
). We all know Barrasso had issues with his backups at times...this should help him from feeling threatened, because he knows his coach will be calling his name when it's go time.
5. He has a great goaltending coach (See his bio for more info).
To be clear, I'm not saying any of this puts him on Holecek's level. Goaltending is still an easy advantage to Philly. Our opinions of players always have a little bit of a range to them which can vary depending on a number of factors...I'm hoping the things mentioned above will bring the voters' opinions of Barrasso towards the higher end of whatever range their opinon of Barrasso is.
This is another easy one...Tommy Ivan is at worst a Top 10 coach in the ATD, and Lindy Ruff is a low-end head coach. Between that and having home ice advantage Chicago should be able to frequently get the matchups they want.
One other thing to mention, which Billy touched on briefly, is that you will get better performances out of some of Chicago's best players with a player's coach like Ivan...Both Howie Morenz and Frank Fredrickson had trouble with coaches that tried to reign them in, fight them on certain things, etc. Ivan is not that guy at all, he lets his players be creative, and should really maximize the production of those two in particular.
IMO one of only 3 players who has a legit shot at being named the greatest player of all time...he deserves his own section here.
The game plan against Howe is to have the Quackenbush-Johnson shutdown pairing out there against him whenever possible. IMO...this is one of the better shutdown pairings in the ATD, and their defensive styles compliment each other well with Quackenbush being the Lidstrom-esque positional/stick guy and Johnson being the big physical guy. Ching Johnson is one of the few players who might actually be stronger than Gordie Howe (impossible to know, but he will have a slight size advantage). Check out Johnson's bio to see how he absolutely loved playing a physical game. It appears that he was at his best when the game got rough.
The second piece of the Howe plan is that either the Morenz line or the Mosdell line will be out against him at all times. Both of these lines have LW's that can be used to check Howe. Marty Pavelich is likely a borderline top 5 defensive LWer who had success shadowing Rocket Richard. Noble has less defensive prowess than Pavelich, but brings a very physical game. Both are great skaters. These two guys will try to limit the amount of time Howe gets the puck, and when he does have it, slow him down to help our defensemen.
Another thing that should be mentioned is that I don't think Philly's 1st line puts Howe in the best situation to really get the most out of him. Howe is the only physical presence on the line and will need to stick up for Paul Kariya when my defense starts pounding him. Also, Nieuwendyk is only a small plus defensively...don't think he was ever going up against the other team's best (for sure not in Calgary where it would've been Gilmour or Dallas where it would've been Modano/Carbs). When up against a line that is a threat offensively Howe will have to help out with defensive responsibilites. These extra duties for Howe will diminish Howe's offensive effectiveness some (he will still be a huge threat). He certainly was not relied on to help out in these areas in real life as much as he will be here.
One last thing that should be noted is that we have size and physicality on all of our defense pairings which will help if Howe ever happens to be out against them instead of the Quackenbush-Johnson pairing.
Forward Line Matchups
Again, I would like to say how the LW-LW, C-C, RW-RW comparisons that Billy does really leave out a lot when discussing lines, like who play what role, how players will work together, etc.
I think my 1st line actually wins the matchup against Philly's when you look at how they will play each other. Chicago's first line is a much better two-way line with 2 players that are good defensively in Morenz and Noble. I know Gordie Howe is better offensively than Morenz, but I think Neiuwendyk will have a harder time checking Morenz than Noble does on Howe. Morenz is A LOT faster than Nieuwendyk, and Morenz's linemates will be able to keep up with him. Backed up by a solid shutdown pairing that can get them the puck, I think Philly is in trouble when my team gets possession and transitions with all that speed. There isn't a ton of difference between Martinec and Kariya...similar players in similar roles...Martinec handles a physical opponent better than Kariya, but any differences here aren't really going to make or break anything.
It should be mentioned that Joe Nieuwendyk's even strength goal scoring is not as good as his Top 10 finishes indicate...In the years he finishes 5, 5, 7, 7, 9 in total goal scoring he was only 9, 10, 16, 36, 62 in even strength goal scoring.
Philly basically went with more of a 3rd scoring line instead of a checking line. I want my 2nd line out there as much as possible against that 3rd line. They are simply not good enough defensively to handle such a high powered offensive line like mine. Graves appears to be a fine defensive player, but Bill Cook is an elite power forward. Graves will more than have his hands full with him, and really isn't getting much help from his linemates. Fredrickson-Cook should be a lethal combo, with Fredrickson's playmaking setting up Cook who is an elite goal scorer. Hay is a balanced player that plays creatively, so he should fit in nicely on offense. I think a team like mine with 2 lines that are very strong offensive threats is the worst-case scenario for how Philly is set up, and this matchup will be the payoff.
My 3rd line is a straight shutdown line...It will always be out there against one of Philly's top 2 lines. If the first lines are matched against eachother, as I said above, they will mostly be seeing Philly's second line. Pavelich is an elite defensive LW, and while Dye isn't the best player on this line, he is the line's finisher. Mosdell is another great shutdown-defensive player who Montreal sent out to face their opponents' top lines. Pie MacKenzie is a plus defensively, but not as good as the other two. However, he is great at being a pest brings a good physical game. He will be instructed to pound on the injury-prone Moore as will my defensemen. We are hoping to wear down Moore as the series goes on...he already faced some heavy hitters in round 1 (Eddie Shore, Red Horner, Lionel Conacher, and Rick Tocchet). With the support of a solid defensive pairings we think that this line will be effective against Philly's 2nd. This probably goes without saying, but we are not expecting much offensive production here.
4th lines won't see much ice time, but I think mine is better put together than Philly's, and are a threat to score if they are out against each other. Smith is the goal scorer, Weight the playmaker, and MacGregor the defensive conscience. Smith and Weight bring enough grit. Kenny Wharram seems out of place on a 4th line. He is an offensive player, but I don't think Linden is good enough offensively for them to produce much.
A few words on Tommy Smith...
One of the best 4th liners in the draft and a great goal scorer. Ian Fyffe makes a convincing case that he was the best player on the Cup winning Quebec Bulldogs over Joe Malone (Malone would obviously pass him later). Dreakmur's consolidated stats give him a 1st, 2nd, 3rd in points and 1st, 1st, 2nd in goals. Those stats only go back to 1912, before which Smith led four different leagues in both goals and points a total of 5 times.
Since Billy is breaking up his top defensemen the pairings are a little tougher to compare. I think the pairings on both teams are put together well in terms of partner chemistry. As far as personnel goes, I think I have the better squad, and here's a crude look at where each guy might fall... Salming is slightly above Quackenbush as a below average #1, as a high-end #2 Johnson is slightly above Goodfellow (probably more than Salming's edge, but the #1 is more important, so we're about even at this point). Ross is an average to above average #3, while Goldham, Boivin, Reise, and Green are slightly above average to high end #4's. I would call Dallas Smith an above average #6, and I think Larson and Enngblom are average #6's.
We are about even in terms of the top two D, but my defensive depth from there on is much better. I think Ted Green is an important player on my team. He has a pretty good offensive game, and the fact that he can play on a 2nd pairing gives Ivan the ability to put out a very offensive pair of Ross-Green when a goal is needed that won't be a liability defensively.
When it comes to the playoffs many people assume that the entire third pairing doesn't get a lot of minutes, but in fact many of the more successful playoff teams since the lockout give the 5th defenseman significant minutes with just the 6th remaining on the bench a lot...CAR 2006 5th D only played 2min/game less than 4th...PIT in 2008 and 2009, 4th and 5th D played about the same amount...CHI 2010 5th D played only 1 minute/game less than 4th. With Green being such a good #5 we will implement this strategy.
I disagree with Billy's assessment of the PP units going by position, which is especially irrelevant on the PP. If you just go by strongest to weakest player it goes Howe over Morenz, Cook over Kariya, and Martinec over Nieuwendyk. I agree that Salming is the best Dman on either unit, and Philly holds the advantage on the blueline. I think these two units are close (Nieuwendyk is a good PP player).
It all becomes a lot less relevant when you look at who each unit will be facing...My 1st PK unit is much better than Philly's. I think I hold the edge at both the forward and defense positions. Pavelich and Mosdell are solid 1st unit PKers while Stanfield-Primeau seem more like 2nd unit guys. Salming is a good PKer, but Smith is below average for 1st unit. Johnson-Goldham are big tough guys that will make life miserable for whoever is in front of the net...Goldham is known as one of the best shot blockers ever.
As far as 1st unit special teams go...Chicago has the edge, as the PP's are close, but the Chicago unit will be facing a much easier opponent.
The 2nd units are closer, with an edge to Philly. I agree that the PP unit of Philly is easily better than mine, it's probably one of the best 2nd units in the draft, while I'd call ours just average. As stated above, I think Billy is underrating the offense of Smith. Here is a further look at Ted Green an the PP that I posted in the Lineup Assassination Thread...
2nd Ted Green's PP ability may look worse at first glance than it really is because of his team situation. Here's a breakdown...
1962: No significant PP time
1963: No significant PP time
1964: 8th on team in PP pts, 3rd among Dmen
1965: 3rd on team in PP pts, 1st among Dmen
1966: 5th on team in PP pts, 2nd among Dmen
1967: 4th on team in PP pts, 2nd among Dmen (behind Orr)
1968: 6th on team in PP pts, 2nd among Dmen (behind Orr)
1969: 5th on team in PP pts, 2nd among Dmen (behind Orr)
1970: Did Not Play
1971: No significant PP time
1972: No significant PP time
1973 onward he's in the WHA which I don't have numbers for
Some things to think about...
1. No defenseman in history is going to be getting PP time over Bobby Orr, and Green was right behind him for 3 years.
2.In 1971 and 1972 Orr was the only defenseman with significant PP time...all the other players were forwards, so it looks like Boston was going with 4 forwards + Orr on their PP.
3. 6 full WHA seasons are unaccounted for.
Once again, I think Chicago has an advantage on the 2nd PK units, though not nearly as large as on the 1st. On the backend, Quackenbush is the best defensive player on either unit and gets the edge over Goodfellow. I'd call Reise and Engblom about even. I don't know why you think we will have trouble in front. Both of my guys aren't real physical, but they aren't small either where they can get pushed around. They aren't great crease clearers, but certainly not a liability. Up front I think the advantage is mine again...MacGregor was a PK mainstay and it's proven by his 4 Top 10's in SH goals. If you don't think Noble's play as a defenseman translate to him playing forward they certainly work here where he is actively focusing on defense only. I think Chicago's PK unit is clearly better than Philly's, but not enough to overcome the advantage Philly has on the PP units.
Overall, I think special teams are an advantage to Chicago, with their 1st unit edge being larger than Philly's 2nd unit edge. The 1st units also see more ice time and are therefore should be weighted more heavily.
I have to leave right now, so I'm going to stop here. This is the bulk of my analysis. I will add a little more tomorrow...
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