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Round 2, Vote 1 (HOH Top Centers)

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Old
10-26-2013, 11:43 AM
  #301
Hardyvan123
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Originally Posted by VanIslander View Post
One from the 1950's but FOUR (4) from the seventies! (Clarke's career spans six of the polls!!)

The lists sure make the 1970's players look good because their lists of accolades is longer based on this era-lopsided list of polls.

So look beyond one's initial impression and take the dearth of poll info for other eras to heart.
I know, Phil as the best stick handler in 71? Better than Orr or Perreault?

these lists have to be taken with a huge grain of salt IMO but it's still use full to get a ball park idea on the general consensus back then.

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10-26-2013, 11:57 AM
  #302
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Stick Handlers

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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
I know, Phil as the best stick handler in 71? Better than Orr or Perreault?

these lists have to be taken with a huge grain of salt IMO but it's still use full to get a ball park idea on the general consensus back then.
All facets of handling the stick not only dangling on a rush.

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10-26-2013, 11:57 AM
  #303
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Could you show how this actually converts into reducing goals against? Previously I have shown that the GA on Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux teams were far from impressive whereas Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard led teams had very impressive GA numbers.
GA is a team metric, if you can take away the rest of Montreal and somehow prove that jean was better defensively than Mikita on identical teams feel free but no one can and it's very subjective.

I don't think it's too hard to group the guys based on pure defensive play here though.

Guys like Phil and Mario are at opposite ends of Clarke and to a lesser degree Mikita/Jean and maybe Morenz.

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10-26-2013, 12:10 PM
  #304
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post

Wayne Gretzky - the Gretzky Turn, SH goal record. Also the Miracle on Manchester. Game 2, 1993 Finals, McSorley Stick. During the Oilers dynasty between 8th and 13th in GA. When you do not have the defensive foundation, it does not take much to turn the tide. Wheels fall off and you clutch defeat from the jaws of victory.
What does Wayne Gretzky's puck possession as a form of defense have to do with Marty McSorley's illegal stick?


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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
While I certainly agree that Espo was bad defensively, I think we're being far too harsh on Gretzky (and pre-94 Lemieux).

Gretzky was strong enough offensively to negate the other team's offense. He might not be Datsyuk-ing it out there, but he was effective. People keep bringing up possession in this thread, and that's pretty much exactly it.

You can't be scored on if you had the puck. And Gretzky had the puck more than any other player.

I'd also like to make a point that while Gretzky and Lemieux always gets lumped in together defensively, I think there was a noticeable gap between their play.
I agree and I also agree that Gretzky was more defensively responsible than Lemieux over their careers.

I can't remember where I read this recently but Glen Sather was talking about how they would often switch Kurri to play the traditional centerman role in the Oilers' defensive zone just so Gretzky could take the wingers spot up higher.

That would force teams to hold back because of the threat of Gretzky getting away from them. So they literally adjusted their play just because Gretzky was on the ice and Sather was quick to take advantage.



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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Could you show how this actually converts into reducing goals against? Previously I have shown that the GA on Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux teams were far from impressive whereas Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard led teams had very impressive GA numbers.
GA is a team stat.


Last edited by BraveCanadian: 10-26-2013 at 12:24 PM.
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10-26-2013, 12:16 PM
  #305
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanIslander View Post
One from the 1950's but FOUR (4) from the seventies! (Clarke's career spans six of the polls!!)

The lists sure make the 1970's players look good because their lists of accolades is longer based on this era-lopsided list of polls.

So look beyond one's initial impression and take the dearth of poll info for other eras to heart.
yes, of course.

I actually had no idea the 50s and 60s polls had been dug up. I thought we only had stuff that went back to 1971.

I can't believe how well-regarded Mikita was throughout the 70s when he was, I thought, somewhat Espositoing his way through his later years.

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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
1986, Steve Smith says Hi! So you do get scored on when you do have the puck. Evidenced by Steve Smith and various other own goals throughout the history of hockey.
That's your answer??

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10-26-2013, 12:31 PM
  #306
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Basics

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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
What does Wayne Gretzky's puck possession as a form of defense have to do with Marty McSorley's illegal stick?




I agree and I also agree that Gretzky was more defensively responsible than Lemieux over their careers.



GA is a team stat.
At a certain point a team cannot get by on a certain individual's skills but the individual has to fit into a basic defensive team foundation for defense to optimize. In a difficult situation - McSorley Stick, relying on puck possession is far from the ideal defense. But if during the season the team has not built a defensive foundation there is little left.

GA is a team stat but puck possession is an individual skill. GA reflects the willingness or ability to subordinate the individual for the team. Gretzky, Lemieux were less willing to do so than the other centers being considered this round. Question of weighing accordingly.

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10-26-2013, 12:48 PM
  #307
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
At a certain point a team cannot get by on a certain individual's skills but the individual has to fit into a basic defensive team foundation for defense to optimize. In a difficult situation - McSorley Stick, relying on puck possession is far from the ideal defense. But if during the season the team has not built a defensive foundation there is little left.

GA is a team stat but puck possession is an individual skill. GA reflects the willingness or ability to subordinate the individual for the team. Gretzky, Lemieux were less willing to do so than the other centers being considered this round. Question of weighing accordingly.
"Willingness" on the part of these individuals? Isn't it more a question of willingness of any of their coaches to attempt to devise schemes that would be more effective while not relying on their "generational" abilities to control/dictate the pace and direction of play?

I think all of the players in question would have been more than willing to buy into schemes and roles that proved more effective than whatever notion we're supposed to have of how they "wanted to play".

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10-26-2013, 01:13 PM
  #308
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Not So.....

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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
"Willingness" on the part of these individuals? Isn't it more a question of willingness of any of their coaches to attempt to devise schemes that would be more effective while not relying on their "generational" abilities to control/dictate the pace and direction of play?

I think all of the players in question would have been more than willing to buy into schemes and roles that proved more effective than whatever notion we're supposed to have of how they "wanted to play".
All? Counter example, 1992-93 Mario Lemieux was not happy with Scotty Bowman's emphasis on defense. Bowman left Pittsburgh.

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10-26-2013, 01:38 PM
  #309
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
All? Counter example, 1992-93 Mario Lemieux was not happy with Scotty Bowman's emphasis on defense. Bowman left Pittsburgh.
I don't think you can just drop that down like that, and ignore that the '92/93 Pens ended the regular season 17-0-1, largely by virtue of scoring 102 goals over those 18 games (5.67 GPG). They scored 4+ goals 57 times that year, and were 50W-5L-2T in the process. If Bowman was supposedly trying to fix what wasn't broken with that squad, maybe Mario wasn't totally off base?

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10-26-2013, 02:06 PM
  #310
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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
I don't think you can just drop that down like that, and ignore that the '92/93 Pens ended the regular season 17-0-1, largely by virtue of scoring 102 goals over those 18 games (5.67 GPG). They scored 4+ goals 57 times that year, and were 50W-5L-2T in the process. If Bowman was supposedly trying to fix what wasn't broken with that squad, maybe Mario wasn't totally off base?
3rd in GA in 1992-93 to 19th in 1993-94 indicates that Bowman had fixed things as evidenced by the end of season run. Also you cannot ignore that in the 18 game stretch the Penguins allowed only 54 goals against in 18 games including OT < 3.00GAA when on the season the team allowed 264 in 84 games >3.10 GAA.

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10-26-2013, 04:33 PM
  #311
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
3rd in GA in 1992-93 to 19th in 1993-94 indicates that Bowman had fixed things as evidenced by the end of season run. Also you cannot ignore that in the 18 game stretch the Penguins allowed only 54 goals against in 18 games including OT < 3.00GAA when on the season the team allowed 264 in 84 games >3.10 GAA.
Wait, what am I supposed to take away from a difference of 0.14 GPG? That's one goal over a 7 game series. Both before and after the arrival of Bowman, the Penguins averaged a much greater scorer margin than that over their opponents in the regular season (closer to 0.5 GPG), and it wasn't until they spent 60+ games without Lemieux in '93/94 that it changed. I don't even get whence you're drawing conclusions regarding whether or not Bowman had "fixed" anything - especially if the comparison is with the results of Eddie Johnson's coaching of the squad in '93/94.

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10-26-2013, 04:48 PM
  #312
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Okay, read through all preceding posts- and trying to get a feeling for the prevailing attitude...

(all right) 1] Gretzky- isn't going to change no matter what is said. (not that I disagree...)
(I agree with TDDM that it's surprising that)
2] Lemieux- seems to be a matter of dispute. He's the player with perhaps the highest level peak in the history of the sport... and only marginally behind Gretzky in rate-of-production. To me, comparing Lemieux to any other candidate-center other than Gretzky metaphorically boils down to "better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay."

3] Beliveau.
4] Morenz- arguments in favor of Morenz have proved relatively persuasive. They also have a common-sense chronological feel. Doesn't seem unreasonable to say that one of the top-4 centers in hockey-history played in the first half of the sport's professional existence.

Beyond the top four, I have points specific to two further candidates-
A] Mikita- I don't think I could support Mikita being in the top half-dozen. Think to the Blackhawks teams in the era of Mikita's prime. If you argue that Mikita is a top-5 all-time center, you have to add that he has as a teammate (likely) the best Left Wing in history (Hull), a top 4-5 all-time goaltender (Hall) and arguably the best defenseman of that time (Pilote... [unless you consider the end-of-career fumes of Harvey and Kelly to be within hailing distance]). And this talent was parlayed into... one Stanley Cup? Yes, Mikita was Captain of a team that proved to be less than the sum-of-its-parts. Rightly or wrongly, when a team underachieves like this, Leadership has to take a bit of a hit for that...
[I know that on the "Hockey By the Numbers" sub-forum, there was an analysis that basically made the point that after Chicago's Star-Power was accounted for, the remainder of the team was quite marginal, especially by original-six standards... but that link has turned up broken...]

B] Like sentinel, I don't really get the case for Clarke over Trottier- really I don't. Trottier played more games, scored more goals, dished more assists, and scored at a higher rate than Clarke. Clarke had three 100 point-seasons- Trottier had 5-in-a-row. Also (more of a "holy [bleep]" cherry-pick stat than anything else), during that half-decade span, he averaged a 23% shooting percentage. When I point things like this out in my current region-of-residence, I'm usually accused of slamming Clarke. Not my intention- Clarke is safely in the top-10 of all-time at center... but better than Trottier? Just one punter's opinion, granted-- but I don't think so.

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10-26-2013, 04:58 PM
  #313
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One Goal

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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
Wait, what am I supposed to take away from a difference of 0.14 GPG? That's one goal over a 7 game series. Both before and after the arrival of Bowman, the Penguins averaged a much greater scorer margin than that over their opponents in the regular season (closer to 0.5 GPG), and it wasn't until they spent 60+ games without Lemieux in '93/94 that it changed. I don't even get whence you're drawing conclusions regarding whether or not Bowman had "fixed" anything - especially if the comparison is with the results of Eddie Johnson's coaching of the squad in '93/94.
Exactly, the margin in their 1993 overtime loss in game 7 vs the Islanders.

During the 1992-93 season Scotty Bowman had worked the teams GAA average from 20th the previous season to 3rd. In the 1993 playoffs, 2nd round the team did not adhere to the defensive system, 24 GA in 7 games and lost in OT Of game 7.

Trust the difference of one or three goals over a seven game series is appreciated.

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10-26-2013, 05:08 PM
  #314
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
All? Counter example, 1992-93 Mario Lemieux was not happy with Scotty Bowman's emphasis on defense. Bowman left Pittsburgh.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
I don't think you can just drop that down like that, and ignore that the '92/93 Pens ended the regular season 17-0-1, largely by virtue of scoring 102 goals over those 18 games (5.67 GPG). They scored 4+ goals 57 times that year, and were 50W-5L-2T in the process. If Bowman was supposedly trying to fix what wasn't broken with that squad, maybe Mario wasn't totally off base?
I have to agree with this even as big as I am about 2 way players.

Scotty was a defensive coach who maybe should have tried to use the talents he had instead of his unwillingness to change his philosophy maybe?

Both Mario and Wayne do stand out here as guys who could , at times in their careers, outscore their lack of defensive play into a winning formula for success.

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10-26-2013, 05:19 PM
  #315
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Exactly, the margin in their 1993 overtime loss in game 7 vs the Islanders.
No, just no.
'That's one goal over a 7 game series' doesn't mean you can just apply that goal to the one game where it would help the most.

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10-26-2013, 05:29 PM
  #316
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One Goal

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No, just no.
'That's one goal over a 7 game series' doesn't mean you can just apply that goal to the one game where it would help the most.
Just making the point that every goal matters. The possession / offense view is that goals against can always be overcome. Not so.

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10-26-2013, 05:53 PM
  #317
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
J.C. Tremblay first came up when Doug Harvey was still with the team. Tremblay's transition game was erratic until 1970-71:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...trembjc01.html

So the reason you are suggesting, transition, is not in play. Unless there is a sub suggestion of difference between regular season and playoff transition play which would require quite a selling job.
Regardless, Beliveau's playoff stats from 1961-1964 stink (6 goals, 7 assists in 22 playoff games, all first round losses). Why is that? The most common answer is that he wasn't getting a the transition help he was used to - Harvey was traded after 1961 (so he was there the first year of the down stretch), and Tremblay didn't emerge as an offensive force until 1965.

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Perhaps there is something to that and it caused the spike for Pilote after the 63 season but he already had a noticeable spike earlier on with the arrival of Bobby and Stan to the team and it was at a later age for him as well.

It's a reasonable argument that Pilote had the least influence on the other players of this group of 3 right?
I don't see why that's reasonable. Pilote was the best offensive defenseman of his era by a wide margin - his prime is perfectly placed between the declines of Harvey/Gadbsy and Orr. So I would think playing with the man who was easily the best offensive defenseman in the world (in a run-and-gun system) would certainly help Mikita and Hull - especially on the PP, when all three played together.

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There is very little evidence to suggest that Mohns or Warram made Stan better.
We're talking the top 5-10 centers of all time. How many of them were "made better" by their linemates rather than the other way around? Mikita's line was considered the best in hockey in the mid 60s -

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I'm going to make a note on how to do tables here from this post because even I find my lists sometimes visually annoying.

Also Jean played on the PP more because he was the better pure offensive player, no one id docking Mario for his PP play, just don't confuse it for his 5-5 play.
And don't confuse Beliveau's dominant PP play for 5-5 play. At even strength, he was outshined by his teammate Henri Richard. But does it matter when Beliveau was so dominant on the PP? Should it matter for Mario (who was effectively Jagr's equal at even strength in 1995-96, while blowing the doors off Jagr on the PP)?


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I know, Phil as the best stick handler in 71? Better than Orr or Perreault?

these lists have to be taken with a huge grain of salt IMO but it's still use full to get a ball park idea on the general consensus back then.
NHL coaches rated Esposito the best stickhandler in 1971. His stickhandling was amazing in every video I've seen.

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10-26-2013, 06:24 PM
  #318
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All facets of handling the stick not only dangling on a rush.
I guess with the leeway being given here for defensive play, ie goal sucking or stretching the defense now being called a defensive attribute Phil's ability to position his stick in the slot will become known as stick handling?

Phil had some great qualities and I love him as a character but really he should thank Orr every time someone congratulates him on his Boston years.

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10-26-2013, 06:42 PM
  #319
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1961-64

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Regardless, Beliveau's playoff stats from 1961-1964 stink (6 goals, 7 assists in 22 playoff games, all first round losses). Why is that? The most common answer is that he wasn't getting a the transition help he was used to - Harvey was traded after 1961 (so he was there the first year of the down stretch), and Tremblay didn't emerge as an offensive force until 1965.
1961 Playoffs. Doug Harvey and J.C. Tremblay both played, although J.C was a DND one game. Maurice Richard had retired, Bernie Geoffrion a 50 goal scorer was injured, missing two games, Claude Provost was back from a leg injury, had missed 21 RS game but not 100%. So the RW was weak with Bill Hicke the only viable replacement.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/MTL/1961.html

1962 Playoffs.The offense was there in the regular season as evidenced in 1961-62 RS performance offensively so the loss of Harvey was compensated.

Prior to the playoffs Henri Richard broke his arm and was lost for the season inc the playoffs. Ralph Backstrom was injured, missed a playoff game, while Beliveau was not 100% having missed the first 27 games of the season with a knee injury.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/MTL/1962.html

1963 Playoffs. Veteran defensemen Lou Fontinato and Tom Johnson were lost before the playoffs. Still Beliveau led the team in playoff scoring while rookie defensemen Jacques Laperriere and Terry Harper learned.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/MTL/1963.html

1964 Playoffs. After an ultra defensive season due to 2-3 rookie defensemen, regulars Laperriere and Harper plus flow thru Watson, Roberts and Harris,plus new goalies Worsley and Hodge, ream finished first leading in GAA. Playoffs, Beliveau was hurt, missing two games:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/MTL/1964.html

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10-26-2013, 06:46 PM
  #320
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I guess with the leeway being given here for defensive play, ie goal sucking or stretching the defense now being called a defensive attribute Phil's ability to position his stick in the slot will become known as stick handling?

Phil had some great qualities and I love him as a character but really he should thank Orr every time someone congratulates him on his Boston years.
I think NHL coaches know what stickhandling is.

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10-26-2013, 06:59 PM
  #321
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I don't see why that's reasonable. Pilote was the best offensive defenseman of his era by a wide margin - his prime is perfectly placed between the declines of Harvey/Gadbsy and Orr. So I would think playing with the man who was easily the best offensive defenseman in the world (in a run-and-gun system) would certainly help Mikita and Hull - especially on the PP, when all three played together.
Well when one looks at Pilote's career path, his late in his career scoring looks to be more from Stan and Bobby being on the team than existing without them and both Hull and Mikita do quite well after Pilote has retired.

Quote:
We're talking the top 5-10 centers of all time. How many of them were "made better" by their linemates rather than the other way around? Mikita's line was considered the best in hockey in the mid 60s
-

Okay let's put it another way, how good are Mohns or Warram considered outside of their time with Stan? Are they even in the mix for top 100 wingers without Stan?

Or we can ask how do those 2 guys compare to the other wingers the competition here played with?

Bottom line is that we have a pretty big sample group of games where Stan is still excellent to elite offensively without the two great wingers in Mohns and Warram


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And don't confuse Beliveau's dominant PP play for 5-5 play. At even strength, he was out shined by his teammate Henri Richard. But does it matter when Beliveau was so dominant on the PP? Should it matter for Mario (who was effectively Jagr's equal at even strength in 1995-96, while blowing the doors off Jagr on the PP)?
Well Ron Francis was way better defensively than Mario was but I never mentioned it because Mario has a stand alone game much like Jean has. Maybe some of Jean's consistency and "dominance" is due to his team situation but either way he has great longevity and most people here would pick Jean as the better defensive player right?

Quote:
NHL coaches rated Esposito the best stickhandler in 1971. His stickhandling was amazing in every video I've seen.
I'll go back and watch more tape but maybe it's a perception thing but one has to ask why Phil only shows up once in that category too.

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10-26-2013, 07:47 PM
  #322
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Goal Differential

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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Could you show how this actually converts into reducing goals against? Previously I have shown that the GA on Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux teams were far from impressive whereas Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard led teams had very impressive GA numbers.
Goal differential is what matters. A highly offensive player/team is almost always going to give up more goals than a highly defensive team. The question is whether the offensive player's style results in a net positive goal differential not a reduction in goals against.

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10-26-2013, 08:08 PM
  #323
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Jean Beliveau PP

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And don't confuse Beliveau's dominant PP play for 5-5 play. At even strength, he was outshined by his teammate Henri Richard. But does it matter when Beliveau was so dominant on the PP? Should it matter for Mario (who was effectively Jagr's equal at even strength in 1995-96, while blowing the doors off Jagr on the PP)?
Not sure what you mean by Beliveau dominant PP play.

Take two comparable seasons 1960-61 Beliveau, 90 pts. PP 15G/18A.
1963-64 Mikita, 89 pts. PP 15G/19A.

Neither is at Mario Lemieux levels, far from.

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10-26-2013, 08:21 PM
  #324
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Not sure what you mean by Beliveau dominant PP play.

Take two comparable seasons 1960-61 Beliveau, 90 pts. PP 15G/18A.
1963-64 Mikita, 89 pts. PP 15G/19A.

Neither is at Mario Lemieux levels, far from.
Beliveau was the best PP scorer of his era, while not standing out quite as much at even strength as he did on the PP:http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...&postcount=236

No, I don't think he was as good on the PP as Lemieux...


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 10-26-2013 at 08:28 PM.
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10-26-2013, 08:39 PM
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Canadiens1958
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Beliveau was the best PP scorer of his era, while not standing out quite as much at even strength: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...&postcount=236

No, I don't think he was as good on the PP as Lemieux...
You are taking a window 1956-57 to 1966-67 that fits certain players but does not fit others, namely Stan Mikita, Phil Esposito, Bryan Trottier and Bobby Clarke who were as or more prolific on the PP in a similar time frame window.

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