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Preseason Power Rankings - Sabres 19th

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Old
09-12-2009, 02:21 PM
  #1
Buffaloed
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Preseason Power Rankings - Sabres 19th

30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS: SABRES LOOK TO BE REWARDED THIS SEASON

Quote:
Not quite a playoff team last year, the Buffalo Sabres have a talented cast of forwards and a quality goaltender, but still lack a proven puck-moving defenceman.

Though his point total and plus-minus rating dipped last season, Derek Roy has emerged as a quality playmaking centre and there are plenty of guys that would take 70 points, including 30 on the power play.

Perhaps the player with the greatest upside in the organization, Thomas Vanek has put up back-to-back 64-point seasons and has scored 119 goals in the last three seasons, yet it seems that he's barely scratching the surface of his ability. Maybe the 2006-2007 season, when he scored 84 points and led the league with a plus-47 rating, set the bar too high, but expectations for Vanek to be a point-per-game player aren't unreasonable.
I think Scott Cullen is dead on the money with his assessment. Particularly this line: A full season of Connolly could be the difference between making the playoffs or a third straight summer of early tee times in Buffalo.

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09-12-2009, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffaloed View Post
Particularly this line: A full season of Connolly could be the difference between making the playoffs or a third straight summer of early tee times in Buffalo.
Agreed - Connolly is the X factor this season. Again. If he stays healthy for 70+ games and everyone else plays about the same, we're most likely in the playoffs.

The only other big variable is who will step up to fill Spacek's role. If the combined efforts of the other guys don't improve enough, that could drop us a couple spots in the standings. Honestly, I wish we would have kept Jaro around and instead made a bigger shakeup in the top six.

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09-12-2009, 02:45 PM
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This is why the off-season has to be considered a failure. At the end of the day, they put the teams playoff hopes on Connolly playing a full season.

All they had to do was acquire ANY legitimate top-six center to prevent that, and shift Roy to wing in the meantime. That is not a difficult task, regardless of the market.

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09-12-2009, 05:08 PM
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Not much of a review just a safe general overview with little analysis added.


Of the little analysis there is a breakdown at the end is about which players are valuable for fantasy hockey.

He doesn't seem understand the difference between Vanek's role when he had 84pts and his role the last two years when he was in the 60s.

How exactly does he come to the conclusion its a make or break year for Connolly? He does know he signed a two year deal doesn't he?

Lame all around. At least add something to the discussion.


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09-12-2009, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffaloed View Post
30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS: SABRES LOOK TO BE REWARDED THIS SEASON



I think Scott Cullen is dead on the money with his assessment. Particularly this line: A full season of Connolly could be the difference between making the playoffs or a third straight summer of early tee times in Buffalo.
Don't we all agree with that?

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09-12-2009, 05:39 PM
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19th battling for a final playoff spot. As a best case scenario? I think that's about right.

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09-12-2009, 05:55 PM
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TSN rankings are largely based on where teams finished last season. Then the Canadian teams that finish on the outside are pushed closer to the top 16

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09-12-2009, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost Dog View Post
19th battling for a final playoff spot. As a best case scenario? I think that's about right.
So you think 19th is the best they can do?

Considering everything that went wrong last year and they ended up 18th. I would say thats a very pessimistic guess and its the lower end of what they will do not the best case scenario.


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09-12-2009, 06:52 PM
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Pretty spot on. Like Josh said, a safe assessment.

I'd add that the progression of Butler, Weber, and to a lesser extent Myers are some wildcards as well. I imagine Butler is going to pulling down some big minutes, and hopefully he can make up some of the points that left town with Spacek. I'm cautiously optimistic that he will.

Weber is sounding like he's coming to camp with a chip on his shoulder and that's nothing short of awesome to hear.


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09-12-2009, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by newfiejesus View Post
Pretty spot on. Like Josh said, a safe assessment.

I'd add that the progression of Butler, Weber, and to a lesser extent Myers are some wildcards as well. I imagine Butler is going to pulling down some big minutes, and hopefully he can make up some of the points that left town with Spacek. I'm cautiously optimistic that he will.

Weber is sounding like he's coming to camp with a chip on his shoulder and that's nothing short of awesome to hear.
Watching Myers during the rookie scrimmage today. I'm still amazed at how well he skates.

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09-12-2009, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Watching Myers during the rookie scrimmage today. I'm still amazed at how well he skates.
The WJC tourney gave me an er... well, I got excited for the future.

I haven't gotten to see him play otherwise, but with any luck I will this season. The battle for jobs on the blueline can only be a good thing.

Haven't searched around the forum really, but TJ Brennan was an exciting piece of the Fog Devils when they were still in town. Any news on him from camp?

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Old
09-12-2009, 07:41 PM
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well, there's no way in heck Connolly will play more than 55 games this season, so I guess we're screwed??

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09-12-2009, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
So you think 19th is the best they can do?

Considering everything that went wrong last year and they ended up 18th. I would say thats a very pessimistic guess and its the lower end of what they will do not the best case scenario.
Did the Sabres really get THAT unlucky last year? Vanek still played in 73 games. I haven't looked, but I'd be willing to bet most of the star players on each team missed a few games.

The stretch that Miller missed did hurt, but again, if they can't hold things down for a 8-10 game stretch and pick up 4 or 5 wins, how much resolve does the team have anyways?

And with Connolly, it's expected he'll miss time.

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09-12-2009, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColonelForbin View Post
Did the Sabres really get THAT unlucky last year? Vanek still played in 73 games. I haven't looked, but I'd be willing to bet most of the star players on each team missed a few games.

The stretch that Miller missed did hurt, but again, if they can't hold things down for a 8-10 game stretch and pick up 4 or 5 wins, how much resolve does the team have anyways?
And with Connolly, it's expected he'll miss time.
I don't think they do. I think the team psyche went into a coma last year.And I don't think adding a few fringe players will help. A change was needed that didn't come.

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09-12-2009, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghost Dog View Post
I don't think they do. I think the team psyche went into a coma last year.And I don't think adding a few fringe players will help. A change was needed that didn't come.
What change were you expecting? Be specific.

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09-12-2009, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColonelForbin View Post
Did the Sabres really get THAT unlucky last year? Vanek still played in 73 games. I haven't looked, but I'd be willing to bet most of the star players on each team missed a few games.

The stretch that Miller missed did hurt, but again, if they can't hold things down for a 8-10 game stretch and pick up 4 or 5 wins, how much resolve does the team have anyways?

And with Connolly, it's expected he'll miss time.

-Started the season with only Roy healthy of their top 3 centers, Goose and Connolly were banged up and the likely replacement also started off injured as well (Hecht). It led to Roy trying to do too much and developing some bad tendancies. He had his worst turnover season by a wide margin.

-Their captain played with one healthy arm and one healthy leg most of if not all of the year.

-Hecht never bounced back after his injury and had the worst offensive season (by far) of his career. That impacted Pommer and led to a drop off in his production as well.

-Vanek gets hurt on a fluky play. Vanek may have played 73 games but you're kidding yourself if you think he was the same player after he returned. He said himself his fitness level was lower when he returned. During the season its pretty close to impossible to gain weight and strength back once its lost.


-Miller got hurt but so did Lalime not long after replacing him. Lalime tried to play through it but wasn't able to.

-Moore is acquired at the deadline and breaks his wrist within a week of arriving here.

Connolly injuries don't factor into my thinking on this other than the impact on the center position when Goose and Hecht also went down at the start of the year.



The above are some tough breaks on some of the key players and positions on this team. A few of these things don't happen and its not hard to imagine at a minimum 1 or 2 more wins. That would be enough for the playoffs.

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09-12-2009, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
-Started the season with only Roy healthy of their top 3 centers, Goose and Connolly were banged up and the likely replacement also started off injured as well (Hecht). It led to Roy trying to do too much and developing some bad tendancies. He had his worst turnover season by a wide margin.

-Their captain played with one healthy arm and one healthy leg most of if not all of the year.

-Hecht never bounced back after his injury and had the worst offensive season (by far) of his career. That impacted Pommer and led to a drop off in his production as well.

-Vanek gets hurt on a fluky play. Vanek may have played 73 games but you're kidding yourself if you think he was the same player after he returned. He said himself his fitness level was lower when he returned. During the season its pretty close to impossible to gain weight and strength back once its lost.


-Miller got hurt but so did Lalime not long after replacing him. Lalime tried to play through it but wasn't able to.

-Moore is acquired at the deadline and breaks his wrist within a week of arriving here.

Connolly injuries don't factor into my thinking on this other than the impact on the center position when Goose and Hecht also went down at the start of the year.



The above are some tough breaks on some of the key players and positions on this team. A few of these things don't happen and its not hard to imagine at a minimum 1 or 2 more wins. That would be enough for the playoffs.
They may have squeaked in if some collection of those things didn't happen, you may be right. But every team every season has a laundry list of things like that, involving key players.

Over the last few seasons, Brodeur missed big time, but the Devils rallied and made the playoffs. Crosby missed significant time, (and Gonchar played with a significant injury in the playoffs), but the Pens were still successful. You can find plenty more examples.

Well constructed teams, in terms of talent distribution and physical and mental toughness, don't just fold and miss the playoffs because of these things.

The results of the past two seasons suggest that the Sabres are not currently a well constructed team.

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09-12-2009, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ColonelForbin View Post
They may have squeaked in if some collection of those things didn't happen, you may be right. But every team every season has a laundry list of things like that, involving key players.

Over the last few seasons, Brodeur missed big time, but the Devils rallied and made the playoffs. Crosby missed significant time, (and Gonchar played with a significant injury in the playoffs), but the Pens were still successful. You can find plenty more examples.

Well constructed teams, in terms of talent distribution and physical and mental toughness, don't just fold and miss the playoffs because of these things.

The results of the past two seasons suggest that the Sabres are not currently a well constructed team.

Ghost Dog feels what they did last year (by finishing in 18th overall) is the best case scenario. I completely disgree.

Do you actually think what they did last year is the BEST they can do?


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09-12-2009, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Ghost Dog feels what they did last year (by finishing in 18th overall) is the best case scenario. I completely disgree.

Do you actually think what they did last year is the BEST they can do?
I don't think it's the best, but I also don't think it's the worst either. It's probably pretty close to an average. The fact that they finished a few points out two years in a row with a similar roster supports this.

Vanek and Miller might not miss the same time they did last year, but maybe a different player or two miss significant time this year. Compared to many seasons, the defense was relatively healthy last year. Maybe that won't be this case this year, who knows.

You're right, things could go well and this roster could get into the playoffs. My main point was, there's a pretty good chance they won't, and management didn't really do anything significant to address that.

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09-12-2009, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ColonelForbin View Post
I don't think it's the best, but I also don't think it's the worst either. It's probably pretty close to an average. The fact that the finished a few points out two years in a row with a similar roster supports this.

Vanek and Miller might not miss the same time they did last year, but maybe a different player or two miss significant time this year. Compared to many seasons, the defense was relatively healthy last year. Maybe that won't be this case this year, who knows.

You're right, things could go well and this roster could get into the playoffs. My main point was, there's a pretty good chance they won't, and management didn't really do anything significant to address that.
The difference between making the playoffs and being where the Sabres were is miniscule.

I'm surprised how much posters just dismiss this or don't realize it.

The Panthers had more points than the bottom 3 Western Conference playoffs teams (Blues, Jackets and Ducks). The Panthers were actually tied for 13th overall in the NHL. The Sabres had the same amount of points as the Ducks the #8 seed in the West and had they won ONE more game they would have been in.

The idea that these teams are so amazingly contructed because they made the playoffs and the Panthers and Sabres are not is utter nonsense.


Even take a look at how things finally turned around for the Pens last year. They were pretty much the same team that went to the Cup finals the year before minus one huge component, Gonchar. He is right up there with Crosby and Malkin in importance to the team. I can say with little doubt Gonchar was the key to their turn around this year and winning the Cup. Without him in the lineup they were unable to get into the playoff picture. He missed about 70%of the year. Showing how damaging losing a top player can be to any team.

He returns and settle things down on the back end and returns to his role as a leader, workhorse and anchor for the team. His return also enables them to trade Whitney for Kunitz which leads to a surge in the standings. Lets say Gonchar misses enough time to be out past the deadline (another 3-4 weeks) or the rest of the year. Its unlikely Whitney is moved for Kunitz and they probably wouldn't have made a move for Guerin either.

How long Gonchar was out injured was completely out of their control yet his injury could have cost the Pens dearly had it lasted longer.

Would that mean they were a terribly run organization? No of course not.

Thats just one example of how tight things can get for teams. In the Pens case things broke their way with them getting their stud dman back in time to make some moves to get back into the playoff picture and then do some damage when they get there. But it all hinged on getting one player back. Which is amazing when you consider what Crosby and Malkin did offensively all year yet it wasn't enough to be in a playoff spot for 70% of the year.

------


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09-12-2009, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
The difference between making the playoffs and being where the Sabres were is miniscule.

I'm surprised how much posters just dismiss this or don't realize it.

The Panthers had more points than the bottom 3 Western Conference playoffs teams (Blues, Jackets and Ducks). The Panthers were actually tied for 13th overall in the NHL. The Sabres had the same amount of points as the Ducks the #8 seed in the West and had they won ONE more game they would have been in.

The idea that these teams are so amazingly contructed because they made the playoffs and the Panthers and Sabres are not is utter nonsense.


Even take a look at how things finally turned around for the Pens last year. They were pretty much the same team that went to the Cup finals the year before minus one huge component, Gonchar. He is right up there with Crosby and Malkin in importance to the team. I can say with little doubt Gonchar was the key to their turn around this year and winning the Cup. Without him in the lineup they were unable to get into the playoff picture. He missed about 70%of the year. Showing how damaging losing a top player can be to any team.

He returns and settle things down on the back end and returns to his role as a leader, workhorse and anchor for the team. His return also enables them to trade Whitney for Kunitz which leads to a surge in the standings. Lets say Gonchar misses enough time to be out past the deadline (another 3-4 weeks) or the rest of the year. Its unlikely Whitney is moved for Kunitz and they probably wouldn't have made a move for Guerin either.

How long Gonchar was out injured was completely out of their control yet his injury could have cost the Pens dearly had it lasted longer.

Would that mean they were a terribly run organization? No of course not.

Thats just one example of how tight things can get for teams. In the Pens case things broke their way with them getting their stud dman back in time to make some moves to get back into the playoff picture and then do some damage when they get there. But it all hinged on getting one player back. Which is amazing when you consider what Crosby and Malkin did offensively all year yet it wasn't enough to be in a playoff spot for 70% of the year.

------
Well, in regards to your first point, I'm not sure how useful it is to compare point totals between conferences. By and large, the teams don't play each other. All those numbers show is how good a team is in comparison to the other teams in the same conference.

Are you saying either the Sabres or Panthers are as good as the Ducks? I don't think either would stand much of a chance in a series against them.

I understand what you're saying about the importance of a single player when you bring up the Gonchar/Pittsburgh example, but I think even that situation helps to make my point.

Yeah the Pens got a lift from Gonchar coming back, but the team itself had to be good enough for his return to even be able to make the difference in the first place.

Vanek and Miller only missed a short stretch when you compare it to Gonchar, and both came back in time for a playoff push. Yet when they came back, the team couldn't get it done. Can you imagine how much farther out of the playoffs they would have finished if Vanek or Miller missed 70% of the season like Gonchar?

It's also difficult to say how much their deep playoff run the previous season had to do with their slow start. The same thing happened to the Canes after their playoff run.

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09-13-2009, 01:11 AM
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Pretty good review. I think that is about as much insight as you can expect from a fluff piece like this. I was particularly impressed that they actually mentioned the Sabres' no-name free agent signings.

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09-13-2009, 01:24 AM
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Well, in regards to your first point, I'm not sure how useful it is to compare point totals between conferences. By and large, the teams don't play each other. All those numbers show is how good a team is in comparison to the other teams in the same conference.

Are you saying either the Sabres or Panthers are as good as the Ducks? I don't think either would stand much of a chance in a series against them.
I'm just pointing out another angle to show how close the non-playoff and playoff teams were. I used league wide comparisons since the TSN guy is using his league wide power rankings to make his list.

I could have shown how close the Sabres were in their own conference to making the playoffs but what fun would that be since we all know that already.

Its also worth noting for all the hype the West gets its a pretty shallow conference after the big teams. The Jackets and Blues would have been winnable series for either the Panthers or Sabres (playing off your Ducks scenario).

The Ducks were quite the fluke of an 8th seed. But again it shows how unpredictable it can be during the season with the parity that has developed.


Quote:
I understand what you're saying about the importance of a single player when you bring up the Gonchar/Pittsburgh example, but I think even that situation helps to make my point.

Yeah the Pens got a lift from Gonchar coming back, but the team itself had to be good enough for his return to even be able to make the difference in the first place.
I was making a slightly different point

Other than a few teams at the top and the bottom, most teams are fairly equal and it only takes a few breaks (positive or negative) to send a team into the playoffs or leave them on the outside looking in.

The Gonchar example was to show how one positive event (Gonchar returning weeks before the deadline and with time to make a playoff push) can push a team in the right direction and can create a domino effect leading to other breaks. Like trading Whitney for Kunitz and then Kunitz clicking like he did with Crosby. Then that leading to a surge for the Pens which factored into them taking a run at Guerin.

But the entire sequence was triggered by Gonchar returning when he did and thats something the Pens had no control over. The point being is that sometimes even the best teams need a little luck to get things going their way.


Quote:
Vanek and Miller only missed a short stretch when you compare it to Gonchar, and both came back in time for a playoff push. Yet when they came back, the team couldn't get it done. Can you imagine how much farther out of the playoffs they would have finished if Vanek or Miller missed 70% of the season like Gonchar?
All the things I listed as set backs for the Sabres. Reverse anyone of them and it could have potentially been the break the team needed to make the playoffs.

Take Hecht as an example. Lets say he doesn't get injured early on and he plays at the level we are used to from him offensively. Then you're probably going to have a more productive Pommer than we saw in the first half of last year. Now that would give them a viable 2nd line and a more productive Pommer. That could potentially mean a less erratic Roy who would now feel less pressure to carry the load offensively with Connolly out. It could have led to a few more wins and enough of a cushion to ride out the slide they went on when Miller got hurt.

Thats just one small example of how series of negative things; Hecht getting hurt, Pommer struggling without a decent offensive center for the first half of the year and Roy trying to do to much, could have broke in another direction. That may have been enough to make the playoffs or maybe it wouldn't have been. But do you see what I'm getting at?




Quote:
It's also difficult to say how much their deep playoff run the previous season had to do with their slow start. The same thing happened to the Canes after their playoff run
This along with your quote "Yeah the Pens got a lift from Gonchar coming back, but" leads me to believe you don't fully appreciate how elite a player he is in the league nor how important he is to the Pens.

Gonchar is an elite offensive dman. Only Lidstrom had more points than he did in the 3 years from the lockout up to this past year. Gonchar has been 8th (57pts), 2nd (67pts) and 2nd again (65pts) in total points among dmen. Only Nieds and Lidstrom are better than him offensively IMO.

When Nieds came back from semi retirement and helped get the Ducks into the playoffs you wouldn't have said , "yeah they got a lift from Nieds coming back, but". You would have said that Nieds coming back was a big reason they made the playoffs. Gonchar is that type of difference maker for the Pens. He is a work horse playing 25+min a night that is a leader that the team looks to when things get tough. I base that on comments during the playoffs from various players, including Crosby + Malkin, that said he was a calming force in the lockerroom and kept them together and focused when things were tough.


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