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09-08-2012, 11:13 AM
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How's the thesis?
DaveG's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Raleigh NC
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Vickers was regarded as a pretty tough customer and a pretty solid two-way guy by most accounts I've read. Here's a bit that I didn't really include in the bio:

The trio proved to have that certain chemistry and the second variation of the “Bulldog line” was born. The previous version was pretty successful as well with Dave Balon at left wing. But Balon had been traded in November of 1971 (Note 2) and as many as 16 left wingers were tried on the line until Vickers came along.

Vickers also brought something to the line that Balon couldn’t: Toughness.

Although Steve wasn’t the type to go looking for a fight, he could take care of himself and be counted on to stand up for his teammates. His famous 1973 punch out of the Bruin’s Don Marcotte earned respect from the tough guys around the league as well as his coach. “Vickers is tough” said Francis. “It takes a lot to get him riled up but when he does, look out!” Ranger scout Steve Brklacich put it this way, “He doesn’t start fights, he finishes them”.

The three linemates were all excellent two-way players who were assigned to check the oppositions top line every game, a task that Vickers welcomed. “I prided myself in being a good two-way player.”
So that gives Stastny some protection with a pretty good two-way guy in Vickers and a strong defensive pivot in Ftorek for that line, backed up by a very strong defensive group.

Physicality isn't too much of a concern. The Mariners team may be a bit on the small side but they're quite fast for the most part, and there is a good bit of physicality in their own right up front to keep things under wraps.

Stelnov was the more defense oriented of the two Soviets, though both were pretty well regarded. However he stayed in Europe instead of making the trek to North America and took a couple years off hockey even before a last two year stint with CSKA Moscow before his retirement. Starikov was the older of the two, and the more offense oriented of the two. He played a few seasons over here after the fall of the Soviet Union, and did pretty well in his stints in the AHL and IHL despite not really sticking in the NHL. But given his age when he made the move (34) and the stories of how many former Soviet plays were treated when they made the move to the NHL it's not that much of a shock that he didn't stick.

But as to if they fit, I'd say yes definitely. You have to remember just how strong those Soviet teams were in the 80s, and how much depth they were working with. The two were prettymuch staples on the team, albeit as a 3rd pairing in most major tournaments, but they still played strong ice time and in the case of Starikov put up pretty respectable numbers (11 pts in 19 games in the Olympics). The Soviet depth at the time too was very solid. They had Fetisov, Kasatonov, Pervukhin, and Bilyaletdinov prettymuch throughout their careers with the team. Vasilliev in the early parts of their careers. And a lot of guys like Konstantinov, Gusarov, Dmitri Mironov, and Kravchuk that were competing for spots with them later on. So that they had the staying power that they did on the Soviet teams says a lot to me about the level of player we're talking about, even if they weren't in staring roles.

I kindof expected Ward to be perceived as the weak link in this team. But that said, look at what he's done over the past few years vs what many of his contemporaries have done and Ward's just flat as good or better. The one exception to that is Giguere who had a better post-season peak then Ward. Mostly I'm looking at post-season and international play, as that's typically a better indicator of how a goalie will do in the playoffs in a stage like this IMO. In that Ward fares exceptionally well. He carries a 6-1 post-season series record with him, a .917 save % and 2.38 post-season GAA. And those numbers actually could quite easily be better if not for an injury. Entering that series in which he was injured he was carrying a .927% and 2.22 GAA. All this despite playing behind what has arguably been one of the worst defenses in hockey for the duration of his career.

Meloche likewise has a very strong post-season resume to go with him, basically willing an underdog North Stars team to the Conference Finals and the Cup Finals. He should have no problem spelling Ward should he falter.

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