ATD2012 Red Fisher Conference Finals: Pittsburgh Keystones vs. Inglewood Jacks
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05-12-2012, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Originally Posted by
Does either team have a plan to stop the other team's big gun?
I think Cecil Hart and Inglewood wants to goad Pittsburgh into a run-and-gun speed game. Not only is the Watson-Gretzky-Kurri-Leetch-Johnson unit terrifying all over the ice in transition, but I think Inglewood's second line is better suited for a speed game than Pittsburgh's second line.
I think Hap Day wants Pittsburgh to slow things down a little.
Pittsburgh's second line excels in a slower paced cycling game, and Inglewood's D could be vulnerable against the cycle. I think Pittsburgh's first line could play it either way, but they will be overwhelmed if they try to trade chances with Gretzky. Is this the series that forces Bobby Orr to play more conservatively, or do you just let him go?
As always I'll be looking to match Orr's unit with my opponent's top unit. I imagine Orr will have to play it a bit safer against Gretzky, but his superlative skating should help keep him involved offensively. I'll be leaning on Richard as well to help Orr with this. For Bobby's defense being an afterthought, I feel pretty comfortable in his ability to matchup here.
Furthermore, will Gretzky be Gretzky when he's dealing with the only other player to have a peak that arguably surpasses his own? Probably, but he'll have a much harder time establishing the seemingly constant possession that negated his defensive concerns up against Bobby Orr.
To support this, I'm leaning on the numbers Overpass considered during the first round of 2009's HoH Top 100 project.
- on-ice even-strength goals for, adjusted for scoring level.
- on-ice even-strength goals against, adjusted for scoring level.
- on-ice goal ratio (ESGF/ESGA)
- off-ice goal ratio of player's team (ESGF/ESGA)
- even-strength plus-minus, adjusted for scoring level
- even-strength plus-minus, adjusted for scoring level and team strength
While Gretzky is the greatest even-strength scorer of all time, Orr exerted a greater influence on the game. Both had an amazing seven year run, transforming good teams into all-time great teams. However, Orr has a significant edge in goal prevention. Also, Gretzky's teams were a little better without him than Orr's were without him.
Quality of Competition
I don't think the NHL was particularly strong when Orr or Gretzky starred (early 70s and early 80s), but it was certainly weaker in Orr's time, due to the WHA draining talent, the fact that Europeans hadn't come over as much, and expansion still causing the league to be imbalanced. In fact, depending on how heavily you weight this, it could give Gretzky the edge in all other categories.
I won't go in-depth here - most will agree that while Orr was excellent, Gretzky was probably better.
Overall I see Orr as being better in their primes at even-strength and on special teams, with the caveat that quality of competition narrows the gap. Gretzky's edge in the playoffs and in post-prime play narrows it further, but I still have Orr first - simply the greatest player ever, IMO.
As this particular post is most concerned with how Gretzky and Orr match up ES-wise, I separated Overpass's conclusions on their special teams production.
Top power play scorers of 1969-1975
(assists estimated using on-ice data)
The top non-Boston players of this time scored 60-65% of Orr's points on the PP. Orr was outscored by his teammate Esposito on the power play. However, I think that Orr was the more important player on the power play, and I think most would agree.
Top power play scorers of 1982-1988
(assist data from Hockey Summary Project)
Gretzky was less dominant on the PP than Orr (and Lemieux), as his top contemporaries scored 70-90% of his totals on the PP.
Orr's Bruins and Gretzky's Oilers were both among the best at this, by being average to above average at goal prevention and being extremely dangerous on the counterattack. I'd put Orr ahead here also based on reputation and the few games I've seen.
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