René Lecavalier Divisional Quarterfinals: Lada vs. Garnish
Head Coach: Fred Shero
Captain: Bobby Clarke
Alternates: Dale Hawerchuk, Frantisek Pospisil
Dave Balon - Bobby Clarke - Marian Hossa
Aurel Joliat - Dale Hawerchuk - Mark Recchi
Jay Pandolfo - Steve Kasper - Joe Klukay
Eric Staal - Ryan Getzlaf - Todd Bertuzzi
Tom Anderson, Jason Allison, Rick Meagher
Earl Seibert - Frantisek Pospisil
Jim Neilson - "Bullet" Joe Simpson
Don Awrey - Jack Laviolette
Tom Anderson, Gilles Marotte
Frank "Mr Zero" Brimsek
Coach: Glen Sather
Woody Dumart (A)- Mark Messier (C)-Yvan Cournoyer
Vincent Damphousse-Mats Sundin-Steve Larmer
Mike Mcphee-Don Luce-Stan Smyl
Rusty Crawford-Paul Ronty-Frank Glass
Extras: John Ogrodnick, Yuri Lebedev
JC Tremblay (A)-Sylvio Mantha
Sergei Gonchar-Terry Harper
George Mcnamara-Oldrich Malchac
Lada is one of my favorite teams, but the Clarke line is built to terrorize pure offensive units, and the Messier line is less than an ideal matchup because it's too tough and too good both ways to be overly vulnerable to any checking unit. Nevertheless, Messier vs. Clarke would be epic, and does favor Lada in one somewhat "subtle" way. This is a matchup that is almost certain to get bloody; it is simply in the nature of the men here. Neither Moose nor Clarke is going to give an inch, but when (and I mean when, not if) this struggle gets dirty, Lada has Earl Seibert to keep it real, while Garnish doesn't have anyone who can fight in that league. Seibert is one of the few guys in the ATD who I think could legitimately kick Messier's ass, and he may end up doing just that in this series. Pugilism doesn't often decide an ATD matchup, but in this case, it just might.
Was hoping this would at least wait another round to happen
Oh well, it is what it is, best of luck to you Tony.
This is one of the few teams I would say has an edge over my own in net. Brimsek is arguably the best of his era, and IMO is a top 10 goalie of all time. But Hall is arguably one of the top 5 of all time at the position. Let's face it, neither goalie is going to cost their team this series, talk about a strength for both teams.
Coaching I think Shero is the better of the two, but Sather is dang solid in his own right and both teams have been constructed very well around their coaches styles of play. Shero gives me a slight edge here, but not a huge one.
Defensively, I'd say I probably have an edge here. Two very different units though, as Seibert's the more physical two-way presence while Tremblay fits in nicely with the wide open Sather style. Pospisil vs Mantha is probably a good comparison actually, and a slight edge Pospisil I'd say. He was twice named the WC's best dman and played against some serious competition (Suchy, Vasiliev, Sjoberg, etc) and was twice named the best player in all of Czechoslovakia at the height of their status as a hockey nation. But Mantha does have a 4th place finish in Hart voting in his favor. Just a damn close comparison with two dmen that probably should get more respect then they do in an all time sense.
Second pairings are oddly similar in build. Gonchar and Harper for offense and defense vs Simpson and Neilson for the same. Neither pairing has one truly dominant player. I do think a bit of modern bias is going to work against Gonchar though. His offensive exploits are well known while his defensive deficiencies are also well noted. Simpson is also noted for his scoring but his defense is less so. In other words, the eye test can't be used against him to determine his quality as a dman in his own zone. Gonchar certainly improved post lockout in that regard, but just how well regarded is he overall.
The third pairing and spares probably won't have overly much to say in this one as it's likely that the top two units will be going out against eachothers top 2 offensive units. But both are built similarly, with Awrey playing the stay at home guy to the free wheeling Laviolette, and Machac and Mcnamara being a solid pairing in their own right. If needed both sets of spares are quite good as well, with the offensive oriented Anderson probably being the best of the bunch. Neither team will be lacking though.
Needless to say, it's a fairly even matchup on D, but Seibert is probably the difference between the two groups. He'll need to be, Moose is going to be an absolute beast to handle if need be, and I have little doubt it'll happen.
A line with Messier and Dumart isn't your typical strictly offense oriented first line, so it'll be an interesting matchup against the Clarke line. Both will do their damage but frankly this part of the matchup may be decided by line chemistry and which top defensive pairing is best able to contain the other teams first line attack. I think Seibert-Pospisil gives me a slight edge there compared to the Clarke line going head to head against Tremblay-Mantha. Forward for forward it's almost as if the two lines are built to try and neutralize eachother: Balon vs Cournoyer, Clarke vs Moose, Hossa vs Dumart. Possession and defense are going to be all important here.
The real difference though will be made with the second lines. It may be a touch of arrogance for me to say it, but Joliat-Hawerchuk-Recchi is going to be hard for anyone to stop with their only perceived weakness being a lack of size (and Recchi plays like he's 6'3 anyway so that's not a huge issue). It will be interesting to see which line you decide to put up against them, as Damphousse-Sundin-Larmer is one of my favorite second lines in its own right and capable either way. I'm not sure the Luce line would be able to keep pace, but likewise Pandolfo-Kasper-Klukay might not be able to entirely shut down the Sundin line. That said, between the two matchups I'd say Kasper line vs Sundin line would fare a hair better then the Luce line would vs the Hawerchuk line.
Fourth lines both have some quality players. Crawford, Ronty, and Glass are dang solid scorers. Staal, Getzlaf, and Bertuzzi likewise. I do think the Getzlaf line may do a better job of imposing their will physically, but neither line will be relied on heavily here. In anything these players will have more an impact on the special teams situation, whether they play on the PP unit, or as an energy line to put out after the PP does its thing in order to maintain energy and possession.
Special teams I'll take a look at later. I may make some minor tweaks to mine in order to optimize what I can put on the ice for matchups against Tony's team.
I get a feeling that this matchup will come down to which 2nd line is better able to dictate their play against their opponent offensively and which of the two between Messier and Seibert are best able to dictate who will physically dictate the play in my end. It really is too bad that this series had to happen this early and that it would be impossible to see this one play out in person, would be one of the most entertaining matchups of the first round to say the least.
Best of luck to my former partner in this, Dave G. Sort of fitting that we meet up in the 1st round.
Let's do a comparison of the team shall we starting with my breakdown of the lines?
The 1st lines:
Basically our 2 1st lines are built similarly. You have your grit guys on left wing (Dumart for me, Balon for Dave); the playmaker/do everything guys at centre (Messier for me, Clarke for Dave) and the goal scorers at right wing (Corunoyer for me, Hossa for Dave). I like my 1st line a tad better as I think Cournoyer the better goal scorer of the 6 guys on the 1st lines, Messier's playmaking will help him a lot. Also the Messier/Clarke battle should be an epic one, looking forward to this series playing out.
The 2nd lines:
My 2nd line is more of a do everything line, while it lacks a true goal scorer, I think Damphousse, Sundin and Larmer are both offensive enough that they should score plenty of goals. Larmer and Damphousse also play strong defensive games which I'm sure they'll do here. Dave has a good 2nd line in it's own right. Joliat and Hawerchuk should do alot of goal scoring, similar to Messier and Cournoyer on my 1st line. Recchi serves as the do everything guy on this line IMO. As much as I like Recchi don't know how he'll react to being a do everything guy.
The 3rd lines:
Another instance here of us building our lines in a similar fashion. Don Luce was one of the top defensive centres of his time as was Kasper. Luce also has a bit of an offensive edge to his game (2 top 10's in game winning goals). Mcphee and Pandolfo are both strictly defensive guys so that matchup will be a wash. I like Smyl's offensive game a bit more than Klukay's. This should be another close battle.
The 4th lines:
I think the both of us decided to go for offensive 4th lines. Staal and Crawford matchup nicely as goal scorers. Getzlaf and Ronty will be adequate playmakers for those 2. At Right Wing we have 2 gritty guys, both guys can play offense as well. Bertuzzi tended to get a little dirty at times, you had better hope that that doesn't cost you here.
D Pairing 1:
Seibert is the best defenseman between the 2 teams, he was more of a defensive defenseman but played some offense now and again, that said I like the Tremblay/Mantha pairing a little better than Seibert/Popisil. Tremblay and Mantha are good offensive and defensive defensemen respectively with a tendency to switch roles as the case may be. Popisil is a strong 2 way guy as is Tremblay, his credentials are impressive. Another almost equal match between the 2 teams.
D Pairing 2:
Another similar pairing as you have 2 offensive guys (Simpson and Gonchar) vs. 2 defensive guys (Neilson and Harper). Gonchar is cleary an offense first guy, while that may cost him and me I think Harper should help with any lack of defense that may come up with Gonchar. Harper is perhaps the best partner I could have got for Gonchar. Simpson was a good early offensive defenseman who when you look at his adjusted numbers had a solid NHL career. Jim Neilson will be like Harper in that he will play defense first. If our first pairings are almost equal then I can say that our 2nd pairings are equal to 1 another.
D Pairing 3:
Another almost equal battle here. As Dave said Awrey and Laviolette are the same defensively and offensively as Mcnamara and Machac. It's interesting to note that Machac and Popisil where defensive partners during their playing days.
Glenn Hall is a player I'm glad to have gotten. He can lay a good stake as one of the top goalies of all-time, his longevity is outstanding and that should serve him well in a long playoff series. Frank Brimsek is no slouch either but he's a notch below Hall. The backups are also solid though neither should see much time in net given how good the #1's are.
Both Shero and Sather are legit top 10 all-time coaches, I also like that both teams have 2 guys that where good performers for their coaches. I like Sather a little better but Dave's team won't be hurt by Shero's coaching.
This is a great match and it's a shame that it had to happen this early. It's a typical 3-6 match in that the 6th seed has a good shot of winning it. I think it's one series here in Round 1 that will go the distance. Good luck I say to Dave.
Kudos to the Ottawa Senators for the great season despite injuries to their 3 best players.