Thunder Bay is a great team - I especially like the top 4 defense and balance through the forward lines. But Eden Hall should win because:
1. Much more dangerous top line
Eden Hall has an extremely dangerous first line, one of the most explosive in the MLD. Thunder Bay's first line just doesn't have the offensive upside in comparison
The single biggest difference in this series is in the quality of first line center. Billy McGimsie has to be considered an offensive superstar at the MLD level, while Boldirev's offense was pretty unimpressive compared ot his peers
2. Slightly better group of defensemen
Eden Hall's shutdown guys (Evans and Buswell) are better than their Thunder Bay counterparts (Graham, Ragnarsson) because Ragnarsson, while a very solid player, is the least great of the bunch
O'Connell is better offensively than Hamilton; both are good but not great defensively; Hamilton is larger and more physical
Campbell is at least as good as Streit
Eden Hall's bottom pairing is a bit more talented
3. Slightly more accomplished playoff goaltending
I was underestimating what Lindbergh did in Europe before coming to the NHL; it's not very extensive but it's definitely worth something, and it somewhat closes the small advantage Mowers has in terms of NHL record
No matter how you look at it, Mowers did have more playoff success than Lindbergh, however, and like Lindbergh, he was a big reason for the success he did have
If defense wins championships, look for the Twins to go far. Two-way hockey players dominate the lineup, and are coached by tactical wizard Dave Tippett. Look for frustrating and smothering neutral/defensive zone play, with an explosive counter attack.
The Twins are backed by solid clutch goaltending. Each line is diverse and adaptable, featuring intimidating bruisers, kamikaze forecheckers, scoring depth, and a tremendous no-quit attitude throughout the line up.
The majority of Thunder Bay's players have better post season numbers than regular season numbers, highlighted by playoff beast Steve Payne. Look for this group to rise to the occasion when the chips are down.
Hockey isn't played on paper. It's played with blood, sweat, tears and heart. The team that wants it more will take this one home.
Good series, judge. It was definitely a fun, intense, and basically fair debate (though you did annoy me with the Julien stuff, heh).
You built a great team - one of the best "rookie" teams I've seen in this thing - definitely better than my first effort. No glaring weaknesses, which is rare for a rookie team. Seemed like you drafted better as the thing went along. If you did have a weakness, it was that Boldirev just wasn't that great (but this is in line with his normal draft position, so it's not like you did anything out of the ordinary).