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03-18-2013, 09:38 AM
The Perfect Human*
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Edmonton
Country: Canada
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Toews belongs in what I call the "2nd tier" group of centers in the league - Thornton, Kopitar, Tavares, Spezza, Backstrom (not this year but in years past)

This group of forwards either have a great 2-way game (Thornton, Kopitar, Backstrom) or an offensive game that is ridiculous but still not at Crosby/Malkin/Stamkos level.

Tier 1 includes Crosby, Datsyuk, Stamkos, and Malkin. Stamkos and Malkin just based on decent 2-way play and unbelievable numbers almost make up the "1b" group. The other two a "1a". Head-to-head with otherwise equal linemates - I'd say Datsyuk shuts down Stamkos and Malkin with ease and comes out ahead in the matchup. This means he likely out-scores them if line matched through a game.

Crosby vs Datsyuk is an interesting one. They rarely see time together because Detroit (unfortunately for them) usually matches up a defensively inferior Zetterberg vs Crosby, likely because Zetterberg has a similar build to Sidney.

I'd like to see Datsyuk match up against Crosby for 2-3 games, just to observe what would happen with the match up game. I have a feeling that with equal linemates and equal defensive matchups (Kronwall-White, Letang-Orpik), Datsyuk would likely come out on top. He's just too good of a puck hound.

I'm basing this off of his performance vs other matchups similar to one that Crosby would present. It doesn't matter what the opposition's strength is, Datsyuk usually wins the matchups:
Size (Thornton, Getzlaf)
Skill (Kane, Sedin's, Malkin, Giroux)
Skating (Gaborik, Giroux)
2-way play (Kopitar, Toews).

With equally talented linemates, Datsyuk wins these match-ups. I think he could take Crosby-Kunitz-Dupuis if he was given a Filppula+Hudler set of wingers to play with.

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