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11-24-2012, 05:23 PM
Czech Your Math
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Originally Posted by overpass View Post
Bobby Hull and Chico Maki were Esposito's linemates in each of his three full seasons in Chicago, so he was on line 1A or 1B.
That was closer to what I thought, although his being on the second PP unit sort of muddles things a bit.

Originally Posted by overpass View Post
Esposito was a strong even strength scorer in Chicago, whether because of his play or because of Hull's. Here are his ranks in league even strength points by season, along with his linemates.

1964-65: 4 (Hull, Maki)
1965-66: 9 (Hull, Maki)
1966-67: 3 (Hull, Maki)

1967-68: 7 (Hodge, Williams)
1968-69: 1 (Hodge, Murphy)
1969-70: 4 (Hodge, Cashman/Carleton)
1970-71: 1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1971-72: 2 (Cashman, Hodge)
1972-73: t-1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1973-74: 1 (Hodge, Cashman)
1974-75: t-5 (Hodge, Marcotte/Cashman)

1975-76: t-64 (Hickey/Gilbert/Middleton/Vickers)
1976-77: t-36 (Hodge, Newman/Goldsworthy/Murdoch)
1977-78: t-56 (Newman/Hickey/Greschner/Murdoch/Heaslip/DeBlois)
1978-79: t-28 (Murdoch/Maloney/Talafous/Duguay/Vickers/DeBlois)
1979-80: t-44 (Maloney, Murdoch/Talafous/Duguay)

We can also look at the share of Esposito's ES points that Bobby Orr was involved with.

1967-68: 3/54 6%
1968-69: 13/82 16%
1969-70: 12/56 21%
1970-71: 19/99 19%
1971-72: 23/77 30%
1972-73: 18/80 23%
1973-74: 33/99 33%
1974-75: 22/68 32%

And also look at Boston's GF/GA ratio while Esposito was on the ice at ES vs off the ice.

1968 1.37 1.20
1969 1.99 1.12
1970 1.64 1.26
1971 2.17 1.81
1972 1.88 1.39
1973 1.14 1.49
1974 1.57 1.61
1975 1.29 1.46

It all points to Esposito being a strong ES player even in Chicago and peaking around 1970, then steadily declining at ES from around 1972 on and becoming more and more reliant on Orr, and finally struggling in New York with a revolving door of linemates. While on the PP he wasn't given a chance in Chicago, and excelled in Boston and New York.

I would agree with your bolded sentence - Esposito's value was more situation-dependent than is usual for great players.
Thanks for posting that info. It helps, although it's still difficult to fairly examine his career, due to him playing his prime years ('65-'75) with Hull & Orr. Expansion makes it especially tough, since he was on a stacked team that was clearly superior to the majority of teams. It looks to me like:

pre-NHL: Very good numbers, but not good enough to suggest he was nearly as productive as he became.

Chicago: Strong ES numbers, but Hull was basically driving the bus, so it's tough to say just how good he was then (esp. with his weaker playoff numbers and being traded).

early Boston ('68-'71): This is the only period in his prime where he appears to have been driving the bus, particularly in '68 & '69, or at least sharing the load with Orr. His ES on/off data is solid, but Orr's are still stronger even in those first two seasons. His superior team in league of mostly inferior teams still makes it difficult to fully assess just how great he was during this period, but it's the most favorable period for him.

later Boston ('72-'75): While still a great offensive player, as you said, he became more reliant on Orr and the PP to keep his numbers in the stratosphere. He seems a defensive liability at this point and was probably fortunate to be in such a good situation.

Rangers: He still puts up some solid seasons, esp. given his age and the team's (lack of) quality. It's the large, immediate decrease in production upon leaving Boston that seems to confirm that his later years in Boston were in large part a product of circumstance.

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