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03-15-2013, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
The win-loss records prove nothing, as the Soviets' chief competition (Czechoslovakia) was also weaker in the 80's, having lost its upper-tier of superstars to retirement or defection without replacing them with players of similar quality. And the Canadians went back to fielding all-star style teams when playing the Soviets, built more to look good than to win.
But at least there was Canada in the World Championships - unlike much of the Seventies. I just don't buy that there was some huge drop in the quality of their opponents in the 1980s which would explain why their record looks clearly better.

By the 1980's, the Soviets had learned to play a much more North American style of hockey, and were quite effective as a team under the iron hand of Tikhonov, as opposed to the relative chaos of the 1970's in the period between Tarasov and Tikhonov (1972-78) when the team lacked clear direction, had wierd internal conflicts (Mikhailov being captain of the national team but not CSKA for a while, Petrov's suspension, etc.) and shuffled players around quite a bit. This was the period when the Soviet national team had the most struggles, and it is not a coincidence, nor a reflection on the skill of the players, which is only one factor in the performance of a team.
Yes, and I think that was a very important thing. The Canadians couldn't dominate them in the corners or in front of the net in the same way anymore. It started to happen around the 1979 Challenge Cup, I think.

Between 1973 and 1975 the Soviets were doing pretty well, though; they lost only 1 world championship game out of 30 (even though it was a bad one, 2-7 to the Czechs). 1976-77 was certainly chaos, and they never reached those lows in the 1980s. Losing to Poland... and even to a WHA team like Quebec Nordiques 1-6...

You are right in the sense that I shouldn't talk about the Soviet team necessarily being weakened, because in many ways it was not. It was made up of generally less talented players (with the exception of the top two defensemen), but these players had been trained in some skills that were notably lacking among the vast majority of the 1970's players - like taking faceoffs, crashing the net, slapshots, forechecking, etc. Tikhonov, in spite of his faults, was able to implement a system which applied all of the "lessons learned" from the 1970's in a coherent, systematic way - and the end product was a much more modern form of hockey. The system that Tarasov pioneered was groundbreaking and stunning when it first appeared, but was static in its way, and had weaknesses which were eventually exploited, most specifically by the Czech trapping system of the 1976-77 period, but also by the Canadians every time they got into the faceoff circle or dumped the puck deep, among other things. Tikhonov's teams played much more well-rounded hockey, in spite of being composed of generally lesser parts.
Okay, I think now we're reaching consensus; there isn't really anything there I would disagree with.

Last edited by VMBM: 03-15-2013 at 07:05 AM.
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