Messier vs. Esposito
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11-26-2012, 05:13 PM
Czech Your Math
Join Date: Jan 2006
Originally Posted by
A couple of other things here. The 1973 playoffs are a small window but Esposito got knocked out in Game 2 against the Rangers. The Bruins lost the series in 5 games. Orr had 2 points in 5 games which is hardly Orr-like. Does anyone think that maybe Esposito did have a lot more impact than you tend to let on? Boston won the Cup in 1972, Esposito gets knocked out early in 1973, no Bruin player surpasses 3 points in the postseason and the next year a healthy Esposito is back for a run to the final. Coincidence? I don't think it was.
I know what you are saying, "well the Bruins had two other first round exits in 1971 and 1975. Yes they did, but both of those series went the distance with Esposito in there (1975 was a best of three) and statistically the Bruins were better too. In 1975 Orr had 6 points in 3 games and Esposito had 5 points. In 1971 Orr had 12 points in 7 games and Esposito had 10 points in 7 games and the series went the distance. The one time Esposito is in a hospital bed the entire team stops scoring (1973) and they lose the series in 5 games.
I think there's a lot of evidence on both sides. A lot of it is open to interpretation. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. The problem is that "middle" is a huge area. On one side is the Espo who broke records, led Canada in the Summit Series, and who did pretty well in the limited time when Orr was injured in Boston. On the other side is the Espo who didn't outshine lesser stars in Juniors, had similar numbers in the minors to some players of similar ages that were career minor leaguers or only had brief mediocre NHL careers due to expansion, didn't stand out statistically (while centering Hull at ES) from early 30s Mohns & Wharram, suddenly increased his production by leaps and bounds in Boston, peaked at an unusually late age (esp. for a goal scorer), had much worse ES data than Orr (not much shame in that) and relatively weak in general after '71, and suddenly dropped like a rock as soon as he left Boston.
I'm really not sure where to place him, because the range is just so large and the conditions during his peak/prime were so atypical and extreme in his favor (team strength, league disparity, historically weak competition). I do think a lot of it was a perfect storm, but I also know that not just any player can shatter records, even when the stars align in their favor.
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