Messier Vs Yzerman
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12-16-2012, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Originally Posted by
do we have first half and second half scoring totals for the '93 wings? i'm curious about yzerman's scoring relative to fedorov pre- and post-coffey trade. it also makes sense, as you suggest, that yzerman took on a larger scoring load after carson was gone because the team went from having three PPG centers to just two. but i'd like to see if fedorov's stats also go up after the trade.
Coffey came in right before the all star break so i just used hockey reference's splits because it is close enough.
Coffey LA: 50 8 49 57
Coffey DET: 30 4 26 30
Coffey saw a slight decline coming to Detroit but very minor. At this point of his career he wasnt Coffey in his prime but still a pretty large improvement over any other Red Wings D for a long time.
Carson DET: 55 25 27 52
Carson LA: 31 12 9 21
Yzerman pre: 55 38 38 76
Yzerman post: 29 20 41 61
Fedorov pre: 46 24 29 53
Fedorov post: 27 10 24 34
As expected Carson had a fairly big role in Detroit despite being the 3rd line center. Yzerman saw the biggest change in taking over Carson's role after he left. Fedorov did not see much of a change.
as for the testimonials about messier's and yzerman's defensive play in the 80s and early 90s, maybe it makes sense that descriptions of messier's two-way game heavily focus on physicality because that was what allowed him to be the defensive player that he was. i mean, there is a pretty good argument that between howe and lindros, messier was the most dominant physical forward the league had seen. so why wouldn't you mention his physicality when talking about his two-way ability?
Physicality isnt the same thing as playing defensively. A guy like Lindros was OK defensively but he was legitimately called the most complete player in his prime. I agree that physical play is a feather in Messier's cap, and unlike some who would seek to marginalize it, i think it is fairly big. But let's not conflate it with D.
Yzerman in his prime was best defined by his flashy play. Messier in his prime was best defined by his tough physical play. I would suggest that the differing reputations would lead to Yzerman being not noticed for the other parts of his game unlike Messier (just like Yzerman himself would later say). Despite this people did notice, specifically those who watched him most closely, his coaches and teammates.
i saw neither yzerman vs. gretzky in '87 nor messier vs. trottier in '84. but it's hard not to take into consideration the fact that messier won his series 4-1, while yzerman lost his by the same score. obviously, the '84 oilers were a far better team than the '87 wings, and i think we can probably all agree that the '87 oilers were a tougher opponent than the '84 isles, but some things to think about
- the '84 finals was where gretzky famously failed to score until the last game, and i think the joke gretzky himself made was that in the first four games of the series, he was taking a rest and letting semenko do the scoring for him (i think semenko had one goal to gretzky's zero). so while messier had "help" obviously, he didn't necessarily have the greatest forward of all time playing at a GOAT level helping him. it was messier who shut down trottier, while also leading the charge offensively.
- whatever we choose to believe about yzerman's shut down job against gretzky in '87 (whether gretzky had a concussion, making this task easier, or whether he was just plain shut down), the wings lost-- and lost decisively (though games 3 and 4 were close games). those '87 oilers obviously got it done even without gretzky being gretzky. the '84 isles didn't without trottier being trottier. what that tells me is that messier's shutdown job, which was thorough except for trottier's 3 point explosion in game 2, the only game that the oilers lost, didn't just shut down the other team's number one center. it cut out the heart of the team. i think that's something unacknowledged that messier often did: go at the the player(s) that give the entire rest of their team courage and the ability to play big. don't just neutralize that guy, but flatten him... repeatedly. messier did that with trottier and potvin. imagine what trottier and potvin meant to that team: they were like superhumans that couldn't be defeated, and then you see messier laying those guys on their cans, or completely dominating them at both ends of the ice. what does that do to a team's morale? think of scott stevens, sending the captains of the flyers, hurricanes, and ducks to the ER. i can only imagine the guys on those teams' benches thinking man, we are not going to beat the devils; the horse pulling their cart just ate our horse for breakfast.
- related to the note above, i think most of us can also agree that the '84 isles were not the same team as, say, the '82 isles. goring and bourne were done. but they also had new blood: brent sutter takes on goring's role, pat flatley is the new bourne. and a rookie pat lafontaine did pretty well too. that team wasn't so over that neutralizing trottier should have made them uncompetitive, even with a team as high powered as the oilers. but it did.
- and re: yzerman in '87, seems significant to me that the following year, with almost the same team except yzerman is out of the lineup, they make it exactly as far in the playoffs. so at least in terms of yzerman not having any help, those guys got it done without him. and either way, they couldn't take more than a game from the oilers (i think yzerman played in the last few games of that series, but i assume he was far from 100%). which isn't to say that yzerman wasn't valuable or a difference maker, just that one wonders how much credit needs to go to jacques demers, who won the jack adams in '87 and '88.
Game 2 was also close. The Oilers scored with less than 90 seconds left and then added an EN goal so it seems like a convincing 4-1 victory. Only game 5 wasnt close.
As ive shown earlier, Messier also did not have the guy he was shutting down scoring at levels he was scoring at in earlier years. Trottier was at .625 ppg before the finals. He actually scored more (.8 ppg) in the finals. If Messier roughed him up, fine, but that isnt the same thing as shutting him down.
Also whatever the effect of the concussion was, im not saying Yzerman played a key role in shutting down Gretzky in 87 by looking at Gretzky's stats and then speculating. Im basing this off eyewitness accounts that clearly state that the team D of Detroit frustrated the Oilers and kept most of the series close, and that Yzerman specifically was matched up against Gretzky and credited with keeping him away from the net. Oh, Yzerman also contributed offensively.
So if Messier is going to get credit for shutting Trottier down in 84 (despite the stats) based on anecdotes, well why should we disregard the anecdotes that Yzerman got credit for shutting Gretzky down in 87 (supported by stats)?
Demers does seem to deserve a ton of credit, he was the one who made Yzerman captain after a talk with him despite others misgivings, and Yzerman noted that the captaincy made him take his play more seriously and it's no surprise that his best years followed after. And he seems to have got the credit with all the recognition. However, in 88 that team under Demers made an incredibly strong run after Yzerman's injury, and then next year key players in that run (Probert/Klima) were having off ice troubles, and Demers was losing the team. Yzerman still carried them that year as well.
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