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MacInnis and Pronger?

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11-25-2011, 02:29 AM
  #1
plusandminus
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MacInnis and Pronger?

There is a discussion in the history section (HoH Top Defencemen), where currently Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger are being compared to themselves and others. Most seem to think of MacInnis as one of the best offensive defencemen ever, but also think that he (especially during his first years, which was before playing for St Louis) wasn't elite defensively. What are your thoughts about MacInnis' (and Pronger's) defensive play?

MacInnis had good +/-, but some point out that he played "easy minutes" compared to Pronger, who usually was the one of the two supposed to shutdown the best opponent(s). Is that true?

Here may be fans who watched them both. What are your memories of them? Who was best? Most valuable? Strength/Weaknesses? Were you sometimes annoyed at any of the two? How were they looked upon?

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11-25-2011, 03:44 AM
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rumrokh
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Considering MacInnis played a lot of his minutes with Pronger, it's weird to hear that he got easy minutes. Maybe somebody can disprove that, but I remember them playing together other than just on special teams.

I also think there's an historical misconception about non-bruising, offensive defensemen. Over time, their reputations tend to shed defensive acumen. The reality with MacInnis is that his defensive game matured as two things happened: the Blues were able to ice a team that complemented his style, and as Pronger's game matured as well. As a result, you'll have people who remember MacInnis before playing with Pronger and are convinced he was always the same. You see that in the span of just a couple years around here all the time. A guy gets traded and develops another aspect of his game elsewhere and it takes another two years after that for fans of his previous team to admit the possibility that he's no longer the player they had pegged on their team.

For a guy with HoF smarts and talent, who developed his reputation in a high-flying era, but whose prime straddled that AND the dead puck era, adaptation was a much bigger picture than it is for most veterans who re-define themselves to remain relevant.

Weber and Suter, despite being much more similar to each other than MacInnis and Pronger were, are a good example of players about whom fans are confused simply because they play together. For a few years now, Nashville fans and the fans of other Central Division teams have said that Suter is arguably better overall, but only this year has he seemed to get some better recognition. Nevertheless, Weber is the product the media chooses (pegged for the Norris at the quarter point in multiple articles).

Regarding Pronger and MacInnis, specifically, Pronger's peak handful of years with the Blues is one of the most dominant performances I've seen from any hockey player. Among skaters, I've only seen Gretzky and Lemieux show more dominance over a multiple season stretch. Without a doubt, Pronger was the more complete player between the two. However, MacInnis was still elite defensively. You can't put both guys out on the ice for so many minutes and expect one to do the shutting down for his partner. There were stretches when they were split up or one was injured, and MacInnis never skipped a beat and didn't get sheltered minutes. For icetimes that high, sheltered minutes are a myth.

Pronger's only real weakness while on the Blues was his temper. Some might cite MacInnis's lack of physicality as a weakness, but that's bat**** as far as I'm concerned. He played in such a way that it didn't matter. Outstanding positioning and stick. And he wasn't exactly friendly in the corners. He was called Chopper for a reason.

Edit: I recall MacInnis getting a lot of minutes with Finley in particular. But both guys got so much more time at even strength than the other players that I think they ended up together for many shifts a game, especially in close games or on important faceoffs in either end.


Last edited by rumrokh: 11-25-2011 at 01:58 PM.
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11-25-2011, 04:28 AM
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It seems to me that for most of the time they were together with The Blues, they were on separate shifts on the PK and at even strength. They were mainly together only on The Power Play, and in super-important key shifts in games. Blues coaches wanted one or the other on the ice as much as possible as much of the game as possible. They had shift 1a and shift 1b covering 48-50 minutes per game, with at least one all-star defender on the ice as much as possible.

They each had a very different game, But, both were very effective on defence. I'd say that Pronger was slightly more dominant when he was at his best. But MacInnis was more consistent.

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11-25-2011, 11:33 AM
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MacInnis was known as "Chopper" for his hard stick checks. I thought he was very good defensively, using his skating ability to get back into the defensive zone and using his stick to get the puck back. He may have been an offensive defenseman, but he is far from a Leetch or Coffey. He was a rock on the blue line.

Pronger was great and was an all-round do it all defenseman, but my only problem with him was sometimes he seemed immature and would make boneheaded plays that would get him in trouble, like when he got hurt when Yzerman "ducked" away from the hit. This might not have been totally Pronger's fault, but sometimes Pronger would go for that crushing hit and it would get him in trouble.

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11-25-2011, 01:12 PM
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WalterSobchak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robb_K View Post
It seems to me that for most of the time they were together with The Blues, they were on separate shifts on the PK and at even strength. They were mainly together only on The Power Play, and in super-important key shifts in games. Blues coaches wanted one or the other on the ice as much as possible as much of the game as possible. They had shift 1a and shift 1b covering 48-50 minutes per game, with at least one all-star defender on the ice as much as possible.

They each had a very different game, But, both were very effective on defence. I'd say that Pronger was slightly more dominant when he was at his best. But MacInnis was more consistent.
That is why the late 90's, early 00's Blues teams were able to keep pace with the league and were so hard to play against, because for most of the game the other teams forwards were facing either Chopper or Prongs, either one was out there for almost the entire 60 minutes.

It's been so long now, but Jackman won his Calder trophy because he was paired an entire season with Chopper. Prongs tended to get a more "offensive" partner with serious defensive deficiancies, I want to think like a Khavanov or as the Pens broadcasters reminded me the other night, for the Blues President Trophy, Prongers Hart trophy season, Todd Reirden.

Chopper wasn't going to outpunish forwards, his defensive play was much like Lidstrom, he was just smart positionally and was more likely to interupt a cross-ice pass or work a defenceman into the corner for his supporting backchecking forwards to handle.

I might be remembering incorrectly but that is how I recall it.

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11-25-2011, 01:18 PM
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bleedblue1223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterSobchak View Post
That is why the late 90's, early 00's Blues teams were able to keep pace with the league and were so hard to play against, because for most of the game the other teams forwards were facing either Chopper or Prongs, either one was out there for almost the entire 60 minutes.

It's been so long now, but Jackman won his Calder trophy because he was paired an entire season with Chopper. Prongs tended to get a more "offensive" partner with serious defensive deficiancies, I want to think like a Khavanov or as the Pens broadcasters reminded me the other night, for the Blues President Trophy, Prongers Hart trophy season, Todd Reirden.

Chopper wasn't going to outpunish forwards, his defensive play was much like Lidstrom, he was just smart positionally and was more likely to interupt a cross-ice pass or work a defenceman into the corner for his supporting backchecking forwards to handle.

I might be remembering incorrectly but that is how I recall it.
Yeah I don't remember them playing together all that much, except on the Power Play.

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11-25-2011, 01:27 PM
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WalterSobchak
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Originally Posted by bleedblue1223 View Post
Yeah I don't remember them playing together all that much, except on the Power Play.
Or towards the final minutes of a game if it is close or they were behind.

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