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10-12-2012, 02:16 PM
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Weaknesses in Ken Dryden's resume

Why I had Dryden 7th of these 7 on my submitted list - he has 2 weaknesses on his resume the other 6 do not.

Until recently, I used to rank Dryden over Hall, based on playoffs. I didn't this time. Part of that is a newfound respect for Hall (who I had over Sawchuk on my list; though I'm willing to listen to arguments to the contrary). But part of it is because of two issues with Dryden's career that don't affect the other six.

1. Longevity. See Post 104. Dryden dominated the NHL for 7 seasons, but every other goalie up for consideration this round played at a fairly high level between 15-19 seasons. Count me among those who thinks Terry Sawchuk wasn't playing at an all-time great level after his first 5 seasons, but something is to be said for just keeping an NHL starter's job in a 6 team league.

2. Dryden was not as good against the European East/West game as he was against the traditional North American game.

In the Summit Series:
Ken Dryden was the top goalie of the 1970s...

However Dryden seemed to struggle against international competition, namely the Soviets. Phil Esposito once called a Ken Dryden a "damn octopus" because of his hulking size and quick arms and legs. For much of the series Dryden looked like a fish on land. He was clearly outplayed by Tretiak and at times his partner Tony Esposito.

Dryden had the unfortunate task of playing game one against the Soviets. His goaltending style was to cut down the angles by challenging the shooter and making the most of his immense size. But the Soviets used their cute offense consisting of sudden criss-crossing passes and shifty movement to make Dryden move around and lose his angles, and thus make him look silly at times. Backup Tony Esposito benefited from his bird's eye view on the bench to notice this and he was able to make adjustments to his game when he got the call in games 2 and 3, and stayed further back in his net and avoided challenging the shooter.

Dryden was stylistically the converse of Jiri Holecek. Holecek stayed deep in his net and gave the Soviets more trouble than any other goalie they faced, but stuggled in a very limited number of games against Canada.

Dryden had a 4.75 GAA in 4 games in the 1972 Summit Series and a 3.50 GAA in 2 games in the 1979 Challenge Cup (when the NHL All Stars lost 2-1 to the Soviet All Stars). He also played a fairly significant number of games for the Canadiens against touring Soviet clubs, and while he didn't play poorly, he didn't play quite up to his NHL standards. The Flyers (and Bernie Parent) tended to do better against the Soviet touring clubs than the Canadiens did.

Given the fact that from about the 1980s onward, the NHL became a combination of the traditional North/South North American game and the East/West European game, I don't think we should completely gloss over Dryden's struggles against the East/West game just because it is such a small part of his resume.

I think Dryden is without a doubt a top 10 goalie of all time, but when we are talking about the best of the best, he does have a couple of weak spots on his resume that the other 6 guys here don't have.


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