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Rob Blake overrated, including during his prime?

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Old
01-09-2012, 09:52 AM
  #1
plusandminus
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Rob Blake overrated, including during his prime?

How did Rob Blake win the Norris in 1997-98? He finished 8th in defencemen scoring (50 pts, Lidstrom won with 59),
http://www.nhl.com/ice/historicalsta...ion=D&country=
with a +/- of -3 on a Los Angeles team were most players had positive +/-?
http://www.nhl.com/ice/historicalsta...rsSingleSeason

And what about the rest of his seasons, where he scored decently but usually had poor +/-?

Looking at his 3 seasons prior to the Norris season, he doesn't seem to have helped his team Los Angeles much.

Los Angeles 1996-97 (age 27)
Overall: 80 28-43-11
With Blake: 62 19-33-10 (15-27-20)
Without Blake: 18 9-10- 1

The team did better without Blake than with him. When Blake played, he had positive +/- 15 times and negative 27 times.

Los Angeles 1995-96 (age 26)
Overall: 80 24-40-18
With Blake: 6 3- 3- 0 (1-1-4)
Without Blake 74 21-37-18

Great record with Blake, during six games early in the sesason. But yet Blake only had positive +/- in one of those six games.

Los Angeles 1994-95 (age 25)
Overall: 48 16-23- 9
With Blake: 24 8-13- 3 (3-14-7)
Without Blake: 24 8-10- 6

Half the season with him, and half without. Basically as good with him (even slightly better) than without him. While Los Angeles was 8-13-3 with him, he usually himself had negative +/- in those games (14 times out of 24, with only three positive occurences).


Was he affected by his injuries?


And as I have said earlier, my impressions of him when watching him play was/is that he overall wasn't even a top-10 player. He was big, and could hit and shoot, but often looked a bit lost when the play was in his defensive zone.


I know scoring and +/- definitely is not all. I know he may have "played against the best opponents".


Does it in hindsight seem like Blake was a bit overrated during his prime, and perhaps during most of his career?

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01-09-2012, 10:09 AM
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RabbinsDuck
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Because Blake "dominated" which often times means a defenseman hits and scores goals... IE. Gets noticed in highlight reels. Phaneuf was runner-up for the Norris one year for the same thing.

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01-09-2012, 10:56 AM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Seems strange to use the 1996 and 1997 seasons to argue against Blake's 1998.

The 1998 Norris was basically voted on like a Hart trophy for defensemen. And Blake dragged an otherwise terrible LA team on his back into the playoffs. Writers like stories and it was a better story than Lidstrom.

Blake never had a great plus minus because he always got tough assignments and was average (not poor) for a #1 defenseman at even strength due to sometimes poor decision-making. But he was arguably the best special teams defenseman in the entire league due to his shot from the point on the PP and ability to control the front of his own net on the PK

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01-09-2012, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Seems strange to use the 1996 and 1997 seasons to argue against Blake's 1998.
It wasn't/isn't meant that way. I just took those three seasons because he missed games in them.
And as I write, his team actually seemed to do better without him.

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The 1998 Norris was basically voted on like a Hart trophy for defensemen. And Blake dragged an otherwise terrible LA team on his back into the playoffs. Writers like stories and it was a better story than Lidstrom.
OK.

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Blake never had a great plus minus because he always got tough assignments and was average (not poor) for a #1 defenseman at even strength due to sometimes poor decision-making.
You may of course be right. But my impression is that that argument usually come up when stats doesn't back up assumptions. It's an interesting subject though, and I started a thread about it some week(s) ago, about "hard and easy icetimes".

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But he was arguably the best special teams defenseman in the entire league due to his shot from the point on the PP and ability to control the front of his own net on the PK
That is something I hope to eventually look deeper at. If what you say is true, it should be visible in at least the PP stats (not only points scored there). The PK stats are a bit trickier to analyze.

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01-09-2012, 12:31 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Originally Posted by plusandminus View Post
It wasn't/isn't meant that way. I just took those three seasons because he missed games in them.
And as I write, his team actually seemed to do better without him.
But Blake hadn't hit his stride yet. What do the numbers look like for 1999 when Blake missed 20 games due to injury and LA missed the playoffs?

LA as a team pretty much fell apart after trading Blake to Colorado (it didn't help that Adam Deadmarsh, the centerpiece of the return, would have to retire soon afterwards with concussion issues).

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01-09-2012, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by RabbinsDuck View Post
Because Blake "dominated" which often times means a defenseman hits and scores goals... IE. Gets noticed in highlight reels. Phaneuf was runner-up for the Norris one year for the same thing.
Pretty much.

I’ve talked about this at length here a few times, but to me Blake is one of the most over-rated players ever.

He simply wasn’t that good defensively – nowhere near the level of Niedermayer/Pronger/Lidstrom but somehow he was consistently rated with that group for a long time. Basically – as you say – people confuse physical play with good defensive play, just as they did with Phaneuf.

He was probably also helped by spending his entire career on the west coast, where he received comparatively little scrutiny for his play. If he would have gone to Toronto or New York, it wouldn’t have been at McCabe levels but he would have taken a lot more heat. As it was, I think a bit of a myth of this ‘defensive stud’ evolved around him from media/fans who only saw him play 2-3 times/year.

As a Canuck fan, I saw a lot of Blake through his whole career and – while an impact player who could dominate a game – he was closer to Jovanovski in that he was horribly inconsistent and struggled when placed in a ‘shutdown’ role. In Colorado, Foote was the superior player and held that role – Vancouver would try to get the WCE out against Blake and generally shredded him while Foote was a rock.

This isn’t to say he was ‘bad’ defensively, but for a #1 defender he was very, very average.

Ironically, he finally ‘got it’ defensively right at the end of his career when his skills were waning. IMO his 2nd-last season in SJ was maybe the best all-around season of his career and his most controlled defensively.

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01-09-2012, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by MS View Post
Pretty much.

I’ve talked about this at length here a few times, but to me Blake is one of the most over-rated players ever.

He simply wasn’t that good defensively – nowhere near the level of Niedermayer/Pronger/Lidstrom but somehow he was consistently rated with that group for a long time. Basically – as you say – people confuse physical play with good defensive play, just as they did with Phaneuf.
I agree that Blake was overrated defensively at even strenth (he regularly made poor decisions in the neutral zone), but he was an absolute beast on the PK.

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This isn’t to say he was ‘bad’ defensively, but for a #1 defender he was very, very average.
At even strength, I agree with you. I think you're underrating how good Blake was on the PK though, when he played more controlled and focused on keeping the front of the net clear rather than running around so much.

Edit: I always thought Scott Niedermayer was a lot better than Blake at even strength, but Blake was a lot better at both special teams.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 01-09-2012 at 04:00 PM.
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01-09-2012, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
But Blake hadn't hit his stride yet. What do the numbers look like for 1999 when Blake missed 20 games due to injury and LA missed the playoffs?
Los Angeles 1998-99:
Overall: 82 32-45-5
With Blake: 62 28-29-5, .492
Without Blake: 20 4-16, .200

They played:
GamesWithWithout
1-12 4-5-3  
13-27 3-12-0
Rest 24-24-2 1-3-0

OK, this season his team looked much better with him. I agree.

But, he was 29 years old at this time, and 28 years old during his Norris season. Before that, things look different.
I remember him being highly thought of long before his Norris season.

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LA as a team pretty much fell apart after trading Blake to Colorado (it didn't help that Adam Deadmarsh, the centerpiece of the return, would have to retire soon afterwards with concussion issues).
Los Angeles were 22 13-4-5 during the rest of the season, after he left. They went from 25-26-8 to 37-28-13.
When he still was there, they were 24-23-7 when he played, and 2-3-1 when he didn't play.
The following season, Los Angeles improved their stats considerably.

Colorado were 52-20-10 that season. 38-14-9 before Blake arrived, and 14-6-1 after he arrived.
They were 10-3-0 when he played, and 4-3-1 when he didn't.
Ultimately, they won the Stanley Cup what season, going 16-7, with Blake playing in all those games.


Last edited by plusandminus: 01-09-2012 at 06:31 PM. Reason: Fixed to 52-20-10. Easy to overlook OT losses.
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01-09-2012, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Blake never had a great plus minus because he always got tough assignments and was average (not poor) for a #1 defenseman at even strength due to sometimes poor decision-making.
I would even go as far as to say he was average for a top-end #1 defenseman, which he was for about half his career.

Aside from Coffey, Blake's career-long defensive performance might be the worst among the defensemen we've discussed so far in the top-60 project. Which doesn't necessarily mean he's overrated; it's like being the 2nd girl eliminated at Miss America.

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01-10-2012, 10:46 PM
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I would even go as far as to say he was average for a top-end #1 defenseman, which he was for about half his career.

Aside from Coffey, Blake's career-long defensive performance might be the worst among the defensemen we've discussed so far in the top-60 project. Which doesn't necessarily mean he's overrated; it's like being the 2nd girl eliminated at Miss America.
Eh, Blake was clearly better defensively than Larry Murphy. There's a reason Blake was a fixture on the PK his whole career and Murphy wasn't.

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01-10-2012, 11:07 PM
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Rob Blake, during his prime = Shea Weber, right now.

Similar styles. Similar statistics and/or rankings on statistical lists. Similar impacts on the game.

Thus, I think Blake (defined as a top 3 or top 5 defenseman, during his prime), was rated just about right.

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01-10-2012, 11:09 PM
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I really like the Rob Blake / Shea Weber comparison

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01-10-2012, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Eh, Blake was clearly better defensively than Larry Murphy. There's a reason Blake was a fixture on the PK his whole career and Murphy wasn't.
Not necessarily disagreeing, but Murphy's defensive play is often underrated. He was not some semi-Coffey or Housley, but a smart positional player, who had problems with speed. During his best games Larry Murphy was a kind of poor man's Nick Lidstrom. Not flashy, but effective.

On topic: Like others have mentioned, Blake is defensively usually overrated, because he was a hard hitting, physical player. It's a common misconception among the fans that a physical player is automatically good at defense.

Blake was ok at defense, good at offense and excellent at physical play. A very good defenseman overall, but not really legends of the game.

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01-10-2012, 11:21 PM
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i'll say blake in the early to mid 90s, up 'til maybe the year before his norris, was overrated in the way that young physically punishing defensemen who put up big points often are. guys already mentioned include jovanovski, phaneuf in calgary, weber the year he finished fourth in norris voting and was a single vote away from being a second team all-star, and i would add alex edler now. young blake was at times behind zhitnik and mcsorley on his own team as an all-round defenseman, even though he was regarded as the stud number one from almost the moment he stepped into the league.

but in his prime, the rob blake i remember had one of the greatest first passes in the league and was one of the best and most feared crease clearers. a consistent top five guy in the league for six years, from his norris year to the year before the lockout, and that prime overlapped with very good years from the previous generation: bourque, macinnis, chelios, stevens, with chelios still being pretty good too. i don't think there's any argument that he is also a top five guy of his generation, with lidstrom and pronger easily ahead of him, niedermayer slightly but safely ahead of him, and probably chara now too. but i don't see anyone arguing that he is higher or lower than #5, so i think he's pretty properly rated.

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01-10-2012, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I really like the Rob Blake / Shea Weber comparison
It is almost the "perfect comparison".

Rob Blake was one of the best defensemen in the NHL for about a decade (1996-2006).

I particularly remember the "Rob Blake sweepstakes" leading up to the 2001 NHL Trade Deadline. With some players in the past, such sweepstakes have been more hype than not. But with Blake, there was a genuine feeling amongst everyone that he was the type of player who could propel a team to the status of Stanley Cup favourites.

And as can be observed what happened a few months later, the hype was fulfilled.

He was completely deadly on the PP.

I had a girlfriend from Colorado at the time, and we placed bets all throughout the playoffs, for fun. And everytime a team took a penalty against the Avalanche, I got completely scared, mostly because of Blake and his ability to control a PP. His shot was either going in or creating a juicy rebound. That is how hard and lethal it was.

He was also a total monster on the PK. He was huge, physical, and not afraid to play dirty. A lot of power-play chances happen as a result of action in-front of the net. Yet, Blake cleared the crease better than a lot of defensemen I have ever seen. Probably only Chara, Pronger, Robinson, and Langway have been better at clearing the crease. In my lifetime, at least.


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01-11-2012, 12:13 AM
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No way was he overrated. He was basically Top 5 in the league for about ten years or so.

In his prime, he was kind of like a smarter, more personable version of Pronger.

He was very good, almost as good as Chris.

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