Thread: Team toughness
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09-08-2013, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by aufheben View Post
This is all true, but if we're fine with an awful PP, how good (or, how far could we go) if it was at least average?

I think when building a championship team, finding: a) Goalie good enough to win cup; b) Great defense, are two of the most difficult pieces/cores to acquire. After that, there's a legit #1 C. Can Stepan be that player?

The Rangers last two playoff exits were not because of toughness, or lack of.
I think finding a goalie good enough to win the cup would be second to last on my list of priorities.

IMO, the way the game is played today, these are the most important components to a championship team:

1. Strength down the middle. Championship teams generally have great depth at C. Hawks were missing a true 2C last year, but they have Toews, Kruger, and Shaw to offset that. Boston was deep with Krejci, Bergeron, Kelly, and Campbell (Seguin played a lot of wing last season). Pittsburgh is deep. Crosby, Malkin, Sutter. LA is deep. Kopitar, Richards, Stoll.

If Stepan performs well as the a 1C, the Rangers will be quite deep and talented down the middle this upcoming year. Stepan, Brassard, Richards, Moore, and Boyle. If Richards/Brassard can play to their talent level, it'll be up there as one of the best in the league. It needs to happen before it's true, but the possibility is there.

2. Quick, excellent skating D. A little added offense pushes it over the top. Chicago/Boston/Pittsburgh/LA all had this, too, although LA's D was half and half. Rangers have McDonagh, Stralman, Moore, and Staal for this. Not worried about the blueline in the slightest, I think it's unquestionably a top-3 defense.

3. Positive and effective veterans. Richards, Callahan, Girardi, and Lundqvist can fill this role, but I still feel the team lacks raw experience, like a Fedotenko. Would like to grab someone like that who's won multiple cups on great teams. Not Fedotenko himself, he's in the KHL anyway, but someone like him who knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. All of the top-4 teams, once again, have this.

4. High end special teams. At least one or the other. If a team has both, they'll likely be in the conference final. A great PP and good PK can be the difference between losing a game 2-1 and winning it 3-2. Or vice versa. Both the PK and PP stunk in the playoffs last year. The tools to have both a solid PK and solid PP are there. This issue has to be solved, plain and simple.

5. A competent goaltender. All but Pittsburgh had this down last year. I don't think it's the most important piece to a contending team, but it can make the difference. Hank with a team like Chicago or Pittsburgh in front of him would lift them to dynasty status, IMHO. Could you imagine Hank on the Penguins? They'd win 60 games every year. The Rangers need to emulate the Kings. They have some very good pieces up front, but I wouldn't call them an elite offensive team. They are an excellent defensive team with top notch goaltending, one that can provide goals when needed, mainly because their PP is competent.

6. Effective role players. The x-factor. Teams like Chicago and Boston had elite bottom-6s (although Boston's 3rd line struggled to score mightily). Chicago's bottom-6 is something to behold, really. Every player knows their role and executes that role to a tee. I like the way the Rangers' bottom-6 is shaping up, especially the fourth line, although the middle six is a bit of a mosh right now, so I don't really have an idea of what the second/third lines will look like for the season. Pouliot and Moore are really quality additions, IMO, adds some skill to the bottom-6, and every bottom-6 needs a little offensive flair.

TL;DR, I don't think good goaltending is a very important piece in terms of winning/contending. It's great to have, but I think a team with questionable goaltending is more likely to win than a team with questionable center depth or defensive depth.


Last edited by Alvvays: 09-09-2013 at 12:05 AM.
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