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04-28-2013, 03:23 PM
Rob Scuderi
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Originally Posted by BillyShoe1721 View Post

This is the one big, key advantage that Philadelphia has over Pittsburgh. If Philadelphia is going to win this series, it's going to have a lot to do with the advantage that we have in top-end defensemen.
You definitely have an advantage at 1 and 2, but I think I take 3, 4, 5 pretty conclusively too.

#2: Scott Niedermayer vs. Alexei Kasatonov

This is another advantage for Philadelphia. When I examine Kasatonov's NHL resume, I'm not very impressed. Defensemen tend to peak later than forwards, and he entered the NHL at the age of 30, which should still be a very productive age. I know Soviets tended to burn out earlier than North Americans, but if he was such an elite player, I would have expected more from him. There is also the argument that their styles of play were so suited to the Soviet style that they came over here and played a different game than they were used to. I can buy this theory a little bit. As Sturminator has noted, Canadian influences began to really be seen in Soviet hockey starting in the 70s, and by the 1980s Tikhonov had used them extensively, so I don't buy that the game was all that different. I can buy these excuses a little bit for each one. Here are his TOI ranks in his NHL seasons:

OV: 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 3
ES: 5, 5, 4, 2, 2, 3
PK: 3, 1, 3, 3, 5, 4

The guy was basically a #3 defenseman in the NHL from age 30 to 35. I'd expect better from a guy who is supposed to be a top 50 defenseman of all time. He received just one fourth place vote for the AS teams in 1990. That's his entire North American voting record. Niedermayer is an odd comparison because his peak started at the age of 30, but during Niedermayer's time from 30 to 35, he won a Norris, was 2nd for two more, and captained a team to a Stanley Cup.

I've always been puzzled by most of the Green Unit because when they all came over to the NHL, none were able to match the reputation that they had internationally. I'll give small credit for stylistic changes, and the fact that they were probably on the decline of their peak, but none of them ever showed anything that would even be good for a declining peak of an elite NHLer, which is where they are drafted. Fetisov and Kasatonov have a combined two total votes for AS, Larionov's best VsX score was 61, and Makarov's best was 69. I don't expect them to light the world on fire, but I'm not impressed. Their international resume is great, but their NHL resume is lacking. Why? My best guess is that they functioned so well as a unit that they were able to compete with the NHL greats in the 1980s. My understanding is also that in the 1980s, Team Canada sent more of an "all star team" instead of trying to form a real cohesive team to beat the Soviets. It was more of a skills competition for them. So they had more talent, but it didn't function well compared to the 5 man unit the Soviets had.

However you slice it, Niedermayer definitely had the advantage over Kasatonov here.
Definitely, but focusing on the worst part of Kasatonov's career is a good way to make it look worse. He's an 8 time Soviet All-star, 5 time WC All-star, and 1 time WC Best Defender. It's funny you talk about Davydov's Soviet career in the 60s below and gloss over Alexei's in a much better era.

#4: Vitaly Davydov vs. Barry Beck

Beck's a great player, and was definitely a better defenseman than Davydov at his peak when he was healthy. The key there is when he was healthy. Beck averaged 61.5 NHL games per season over 10 seasons, meaning he missed about 20% of the season on average. So in a 7 game series, you would expect him to miss 1.4 games. I think it's reasonable to say Beck will miss one game this series at least. He played only 7.7 real "80 game seasons". By comparison, Davydov was named to a Soviet all star team for 7 seasons, 6 on the 1st team and one on the 2nd team. Vitaly Davydov was a world champion 9 times, and Beck only played 7.7 "seasons". Beck's voting record and intangibles look great, but he had such a short career. Beck is still the better #4, but I think people give him more of a pass in regards to his injuries than he deserves. I think that idea as a whole is something the ATD underrates and doesn't justly punish guys who were injury prone.
So worst case scenario Ryan Suter has to sub in for a game? The worst case scenario for Davydov was that he was a physical shutdown defender against Europeans who couldn't play the same game against Canadian professionals a la Evgeny Paladiev. Who was Davydov competing against for his all-stars in a weak Soviet era? Is counting WC golds really effective, particularly in his era? I think he could be your worst defenseman. All I see are things Kasatonov did better in a stronger era, but got ignored for being merely effective in the NHL. Punish Beck for injuries all you want, this is Brad Park-Brian Leetch unbalanced.

#5: Kevin Hatcher vs. Frank Patrick

Without looking, these are probably two of, if not the, two best #5s in the draft. Kevin Hatcher would be a decent #4, Frank Patrick is a good #4. Pittsburgh gets the advantage here.
I know you keep selling Hatcher based on 70s study and his all-star record, but I don't think this is very close either.

#6: Bob Armstrong vs. Willie Mitchell

Both are strong stay at home defensemen, but I think Armstrong is on another level. Looking at their voting records:

Armstrong: 7, 8, 9, 13
Mitchell: 1 vote in 2012

Armstrong: 6, 8, 10, 13
Mitchell: 2 votes in 2009, 1 vote in 2007 & 2012

Mitchell's voting underrates his abilities as a shutdown defenseman, but Armstrong wins here. [/quote]
Agreed Armstrong is better, but he's going to really struggle playing on your second pair in this series. He can't skate very well and is going to deal with Pittsburgh's quick team pressing with the five man attack all series long. I think this is going to be a big benefit to our game.

Defense comes out to an overall advantage to Philadelphia because of the advantage at the top end, with Park and Niedermayer over Leetch and Kasatonov.
I agree you have the advantage at the top end, but is this really and advantage for Philly considering the pairings?

Park-Hitchman > Leetch-Kasatonov
Niedermayer-Armstrong < Beck-Stapleton
Hatcher-Davydov < Patrick-Mitchell

I think looking at pairings muddles the key advantage you claim to have.

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