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Foster Hewitt Divisonal Finals: Inglewood vs. Australia

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04-26-2012, 03:30 PM
  #26
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Shutting down Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri

The biggest adversity in this series for Australia is containing the star unit of Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. They are easily one of the best dynamic duos of all time, here is how the Australia Mighty Roos plan on stopping the duo.

Obviously they both can't be totally contained, but there is definitely a way to limit the damage.

Denis Potvin

Having Denis Potvin is a start, he is a legitimate shutdown defenseman who did address his frustration regarding Gretzky. He was most definitely a key cog in the unit that was able to stop Gretzky when the Islanders won the cup against the Oilers. He never played badly against Gretzky, and was able to match up with him, he just wasn't able to put his physical ability to use on him, like no other defenseman could. Jari Kurri probably couldn't meet a worse match while crossing the left side of the blueline, Potvin may not be able to crush his main target, but whenever it allows him to he can deliver a hard hit to Kurri.

Lewis // Fedorov or Berlinguette // Sanderson

Australia possesses two very good checking duos, that in addition to having the solid Potvin - Baun pairing, makes for a good group to match up with the offensive first line. Both groups are very tenacious checkers, who can both shadow the two superstars. I don't see Watson as very much to worry about on the left side, he is far and away the biggest outcast on the first line and I don't think he does anything for this line besides checking. Also having two lines give Australia different options, and if Inglewood is playing their line profusely, they can rotate so neither group gets overly tired.

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04-26-2012, 03:32 PM
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The other issue with deploying Potvin against Gretzky is that Potvin, your team's best offensive defenseman by a mile, will dedicate the majority of his attention to defensive duties. Other than the PP, Potvin won't be doing too much offensively, which will quite possibly be quite crippling for Australia.

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04-26-2012, 03:33 PM
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Yeah, I would definitely prefer Johnson on the left side in this series.

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04-26-2012, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jarek View Post
You know, there really is nothing preventing Inglewood from switching the positions of Johnson and Leetch on the top pairing. I don't think Australia's top line really needs a true shutdown pair to slow it down or stop it, mainly because Conacher is far and away the best player on the line and the only really legitimate goal scoring threat. If Johnson shuts down Conacher, the offense from Australia's top line will be severely lacking.
You're ignoring Francis's offensive abilities, also he has Shutt on his wing, so it's not like the line is completely obsolete with Conacher being matched with Johnson, and I don't think he will limit Conacher that much, he's a big bodied winger who can rush himself to the net.

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04-26-2012, 04:29 PM
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You're ignoring Francis's offensive abilities, also he has Shutt on his wing, so it's not like the line is completely obsolete with Conacher being matched with Johnson, and I don't think he will limit Conacher that much, he's a big bodied winger who can rush himself to the net.
And Moose Johnson is one of the most elite defensive defensemen ever. Don't overrate Steve Shutt either - without Lafleur, you've never even heard of Steve Shutt. As for Francis, he won't score the goals, so it'll be a relatively simple task to make his playmaking abilities ineffective.. just take the shooting lanes away from Conacher.

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04-26-2012, 04:40 PM
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As a left handed shot with relatively weak puckhandling skills, Moose Johnson should be on the left side, anyway.

IIRC, Leetch spent the vast majority of his career on the left side, but seems like he'd have the skill set to play either side.

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04-26-2012, 05:12 PM
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What are you talking about? My perspective didn't change. I never claimed that Ron Francis was anything other than a very strong playmaker. A playmaker, however, needs a good goal scorer to get his assists. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that Charlie Conacher isn't going to score, because he is. He's too good to be shut down completely. He's going to find ways to physically get past whoever is sent out there to slow him down, and he's going to find ways to get into an open lane to receive a pass from Francis. Francis, as well, is going to draw a lot of attention to himself, which will open up room for Conacher as well, and he's good enough as a playmaker to find a way to get the puck to Conacher, even through all the checking.

I just think that Inglewood has a good group of guys to limit the damage this line does, just as Australia seems to have about as ideal a match as you can get against Gretzky.

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04-26-2012, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
As a left handed shot with relatively weak puckhandling skills, Moose Johnson should be on the left side, anyway.

IIRC, Leetch spent the vast majority of his career on the left side, but seems like he'd have the skill set to play either side.
I THINK he played on the right side when he was paired with McCabe after the Leafs traded for him, and he went on that nice assist streak. I absolutely believe that Leetch can play on the right side, in any event.

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04-26-2012, 08:31 PM
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First Lines

The Jacks obviously hold an advantage with the strong duo that is Gretzky and Kurri, they are one of the best dynamic duos of all time and there's no denying they will be a force to reckoned with. However I don't think Harry Watson does much for this line, I think he is very out of place on a first line, and I can't see him being a factor. He'll serve as a below average glue guy, but next to two-thirds of a superstar line. It's not an overly strong defensive line though, Kurri was a good two-way guy, and Watson was good defensively, but I'm not convinced with him on a first line. Gretzky never focused on defense because he was so damn good offensively, but if he ever had to play in a defensive situation, I don't think he would be overly effective. It's not a soft line, but it doesn't offer much in terms of defense.

Albeit having a weaker first line, Australia's line will still be effective. Charlie Conacher will be relied upon to rush to the net, taking everything out in his path. He has an effective playmaker in Francis, who's ability can really be put to use after Conacher makes room for him to make a play. Also, if Johnson is going to constantly be on Conacher, Francis can always go to his left side to Steve Shutt.

Inglewood holds the first line advantage

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04-26-2012, 08:38 PM
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I actually think Inglewood's first line is a little better defensively than you're making it out to be. There is certainly defensive value in Gretzky's puck possession ability, and Watson/Kurri are pretty effective in their own end. I don't really see this line being weak defensively at all.

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04-26-2012, 08:53 PM
  #36
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Hey guys, sorry I've been absentee here. I've got the flu, and I've been shirking my ATD responsibilities in favour of watching all of Firefly.

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04-26-2012, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarek View Post
I actually think Inglewood's first line is a little better defensively than you're making it out to be. There is certainly defensive value in Gretzky's puck possession ability, and Watson/Kurri are pretty effective in their own end. I don't really see this line being weak defensively at all.
I agree. My top line has two excellent defensive wingers and a centre that epitomized "the best defense is a good offense" ethos. I think it's actually a very strong defensive line, and the best offensive line in this series by quite a bit.

Australia has done a good job of getting good defensive forwards throughout their lineup. But I think it's come at the price of offensive production. I think Conacher is the only offensive game-breaker on the team, but I think I have the pieces to contain him.

Baldy Northcott was used successfully to shadow Conacher on a number of occasions with the Maroons. He did so famously in the 1935 finals, as well as during the regular season.

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It was their ability to tie up the Leafs’ big gunners that won last night’s game for the Maroons. Charlie Conacher who is still the power-house of the Toronto attack was shadowed all night by Baldy Northcott, failing to shake a persistent pair of elbows wielded by the leech-like Baldy, went through another scoreless Maroon contest. Conacher has the unenviable record for top-notch scorer of being unable to tally more than one goal in his last 11 meetings with the Maroons.
Having Northcott on Conacher is a matchup I'm going to look for, even if it means shuffling the LWers a bit to do it. Additionally, I'd like to have Moose Johnson and Brian Leetch switch sides, as I want Johnson's physical shut-down game against Conacher. If Conacher can be controlled, I think Australia is going to have a lot of trouble scoring goals. I don't think Francis and Shutt are anything special as first-liners, and the second line is quite weak offensively IMO.

While I cannot deny how much of a beauty Denis Potvin is, I think I have the better overall blueline. Specifically, I think the advantage I have at the #2 and #3 spot is pretty notable.




more to come later

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04-27-2012, 02:20 AM
  #38
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Originally Posted by jarek View Post
I actually think Inglewood's first line is a little better defensively than you're making it out to be. There is certainly defensive value in Gretzky's puck possession ability, and Watson/Kurri are pretty effective in their own end. I don't really see this line being weak defensively at all.
The thing is, though, Gretzky had a ****load of goals scored on him, particularly post-1988.

with a guy like Jagr, for example, his speciality is also puck possession and you can see that in his goals against numbers. Not so much for Gretzky.

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04-27-2012, 02:26 AM
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The thing is, though, Gretzky had a ****load of goals scored on him, particularly post-1988.

with a guy like Jagr, for example, his speciality is also puck possession and you can see that in his goals against numbers. Not so much for Gretzky.
How much of that does he have the coaching and overall lack of really excellent defensive defensemen to thank?

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04-27-2012, 02:41 AM
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The thing is, though, Gretzky had a ****load of goals scored on him, particularly post-1988.
You mean the phase of his career where he played on teams with Steve Duchesne as the #1 defenseman and had no two-way wingers to support him? Yeah, go figure.

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04-27-2012, 11:32 AM
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You mean the phase of his career where he played on teams with Steve Duchesne as the #1 defenseman and had no two-way wingers to support him? Yeah, go figure.
Yeah, pretty much.

The Kings were pretty horrible defensively all around. Their goaltending was by and large nothing to write home about, either.

Gretzky hadn't changed that much individually at all over one summer.

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04-27-2012, 01:07 PM
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Yeah, I think Inglewood insulated Gretzky quite well. Ideally, I'd rather have a better scorer than Watson there, but in terms of defensive help, the line is quite strong

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04-27-2012, 01:38 PM
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You mean the phase of his career where he played on teams with Steve Duchesne as the #1 defenseman and had no two-way wingers to support him? Yeah, go figure.
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Yeah, pretty much.

The Kings were pretty horrible defensively all around. Their goaltending was by and large nothing to write home about, either.

Gretzky hadn't changed that much individually at all over one summer.
OK, but to relate this to what I said, is that much different from Pittsburgh's situation for most of Jagr's prime?

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04-27-2012, 01:59 PM
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OK, but to relate this to what I said, is that much different from Pittsburgh's situation for most of Jagr's prime?
I don't think Gretzky and Jagr were that similar at all in style. Gretzky really wasn't a guy to hold onto the puck forever like Jagr was.

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04-27-2012, 02:12 PM
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I don't think Gretzky and Jagr were that similar at all in style. Gretzky really wasn't a guy to hold onto the puck forever like Jagr was.
the puck still followed him around the ice, and the point being made was that that is "like" playing good defense because you can't get scored on when you always have possession. I'm just pointing out that, while that's typically true, Gretzky had a ton of goals against.

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04-27-2012, 10:04 PM
  #46
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Second Lines

The two biggest focuses on the second lines are the comparisons of Herbie Lewis and Baldy Northcott, and Sergei Fedorov and Pat Lafontaine. Mogilny and Leach are pretty much a wash, but they both bring an asset to the table. Mogilny had fantastic chemistry with Pat Lafontaine, but Reggie Leach was an even more dynamic hockey player in the post-season which is a huge factor, especially in a playoff series. I'd be inclined to give Leach a slight advantage.

Sergei Fedorov is a better centre than Pat Lafontaine,

Both centres eight best seasons.
Lafontaine: 100, 83, 77, 77, 76, 76, 75, 69
Fedorov: 100, 90, 80, 76, 73, 70, 69, 64

Those are almost identical, considering some of Fedorov's better seasons. And then Fedorov's defensive game is a big deal-breaker for this comparison, as he won two Selkes, and 8 Top-10's in Selke Voting and also being a very responsible and reputable defensive player. Lafontaine doesn't have much to account for besides offense, which I will add is a pretty good offensive resume for a second line. But I think we can conclude that Fedorov is a much more valuable player than Lafontaine.

Now let's visit Northcott vs. Lewis, initially we are under the impression Northcott is the better of the two.

Northcott: 98, 90, 75, 64, 50, 50, 46
Lewis: 93, 93, 78, 71, 67, 62, 51

Northcott had one really good season, a pretty good one, a decent one, followed by pretty underwhelming ones.

Lewis had two pretty good seasons, a good one and a decent one, followed by pretty underwhelming seasons, but all are still better than Northcott's finishes beyond his fourth best.

Lewis is the better offensive player between the two.

When it comes to defensive ability, is there really that much that seperates them? Is Northcott a real shut down guy, he was rugged and good in the corners but I'm not overly convinced that he has much of an advantage on Lewis defensively, Herb was also significantly quicker than Baldy. I'm not really sure there's a real edge for Northcott in this comparison.

Australia holds the advantage on the second lines, Fedorov holds a pretty considerable advantage over Lafontaine, Leach if any at all, holds a tiny edge over Mogilny and there's almost nothing seperating Lewis and Northcott, please enlighten me if I'm missing out on anything, but I'm really convinced that there is not a particular advantage. Besides maybe Northcott being bigger and possibly a more physical presence.

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04-28-2012, 12:07 AM
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I won't argue Lafontaine over Fedorov. Lafontaine was better offensively (or at least he chose to be more often), but injuries kept that edge from being anywhere as significant as Fedorov's all-around edge in play.

Northcott and Lewis are fairly similar in their roles, although I'll always go with Northcott because I think he brings everything Lewis does plus a bigtime physical dimension. I really like Northcott in this matchup because he has proven shut-down ability against Charlie Conacher. I plan to use him as a shadow on Conacher, and if that means he and Watson switch lines at times, so be it.



But I think it's pretty crazy to say Reggie Leach has any type of edge over Mogilny. Leach may be the weakest offense-only top-6 winger in the draft. You'd have to put a crazy amount of emphasis on one big playoff run to put him near Mogilny. I honestly, truly believe that I have a better scoring winger than Reggie Leach sitting in the press box right now.

When people talk about Mogilny's flaws, it's all about inconsistency. Thing is though, Mogilny was way more consistent than Reggie Leach. Mogilny was a pretty consistent point-per-game player throughout his career, particularly when healthy. Reggie Leach was a point-per-game player twice in his career. Reggie Leach's highest points finish was 15th, and that was the only time he cracked the top-20 in league scoring.

It's true, Mogilny doesn't have anything comparable to Leach's big playoff in 1976. It might be worth noting though that from age 20-30 (the age Leach played) Mogilny actually has a higher point-per-game in the playoffs.


But I think this is the most important factor: Mogilny is in an ideal position to succeed, while I'm not sure Leach is.

When Alex Mogilny had a fast, creative centre to work with he tore it up. Whether that was Cliff Ronning, Scott Gomez, or his insane chemistry with Pat Lafontaine, this was a constant throughout his career. Here, he's with Lafontaine. And that duo has way more offensive help from the blueline than they ever had in real life.

If you compare Leach's stats from California to Philadelphia, it's clear that he benefited from being centred by an elite playmaker (Clarke). My impression of Leach is that he was the proverbial "floating stick" ala Mike Cammalleri. A pure shooter that didn't really create his own shot, or shots for others (see his career goal-to-assist ratio). As great an all-around player as Fedorov is, he's definitely not the playmaker Clarke was, and I think that's a concern for Leach.

Alexander Mogilny is not a perfect player by any stretch. But he was flat out better than Reggie Leach. Probably a better goal scorer, an infinitely better playmaker, and far more consistent about it. And on top of that, I think he's in a better position to succeed.


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04-28-2012, 10:18 AM
  #48
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I won't argue Lafontaine over Fedorov. Lafontaine was better offensively (or at least he chose to be more often), but injuries kept that edge from being anywhere as significant as Fedorov's all-around edge in play.

Northcott and Lewis are fairly similar in their roles, although I'll always go with Northcott because I think he brings everything Lewis does plus a bigtime physical dimension. I really like Northcott in this matchup because he has proven shut-down ability against Charlie Conacher. I plan to use him as a shadow on Conacher, and if that means he and Watson switch lines at times, so be it.
That's fair.

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But I think it's pretty crazy to say Reggie Leach has any type of edge over Mogilny. Leach may be the weakest offense-only top-6 winger in the draft. You'd have to put a crazy amount of emphasis on one big playoff run to put him near Mogilny. I honestly, truly believe that I have a better scoring winger than Reggie Leach sitting in the press box right now.

When people talk about Mogilny's flaws, it's all about inconsistency. Thing is though, Mogilny was way more consistent than Reggie Leach. Mogilny was a pretty consistent point-per-game player throughout his career, particularly when healthy. Reggie Leach was a point-per-game player twice in his career. Reggie Leach's highest points finish was 15th, and that was the only time he cracked the top-20 in league scoring.

It's true, Mogilny doesn't have anything comparable to Leach's big playoff in 1976. It might be worth noting though that from age 20-30 (the age Leach played) Mogilny actually has a higher point-per-game in the playoffs.
A better scoring winger than Leach as one of your spares? Listen, I really do like Demitra, and he is one of my favorite players of all time, but that's a pretty absurd claim to make that he was a better goalscorer than Leach. What do you have to back that up?

Leach was fairly one-dimensional, yes, but his one-dimensional goal-scoring is a huge asset. 3-Top 10's in scoring, six 30 goal seasons and an impeccable post-season. I think that's a good resume for a second line winger.

Quote:
But I think this is the most important factor: Mogilny is in an ideal position to succeed, while I'm not sure Leach is.

When Alex Mogilny had a fast, creative centre to work with he tore it up. Whether that was Cliff Ronning, Scott Gomez, or his insane chemistry with Pat Lafontaine, this was a constant throughout his career. Here, he's with Lafontaine. And that duo has way more offensive help from the blueline than they ever had in real life.

If you compare Leach's stats from California to Philadelphia, it's clear that he benefited from being centred by an elite playmaker (Clarke). My impression of Leach is that he was the proverbial "floating stick" ala Mike Cammalleri. A pure shooter that didn't really create his own shot, or shots for others (see his career goal-to-assist ratio). As great an all-around player as Fedorov is, he's definitely not the playmaker Clarke was, and I think that's a concern for Leach.

Alexander Mogilny is not a perfect player by any stretch. But he was flat out better than Reggie Leach. Probably a better goal scorer, an infinitely better playmaker, and far more consistent about it. And on top of that, I think he's in a better position to succeed.
You say that your second line will benefit from the help on the blueline, which I don't disagree with.

Fedorov, despite not being on Clarke's level of play-making, he was still recognized as a top playmaker during his career. Leach was known to have the ability "to score from anywhere" I'd say he was able to create his own shot on many occasions. And having Denis Potvin on the point is a huge point of interest, considering Leach's best goal-scoring season came with Larry Goodenough and Tom Bladon as the top offensive defensemen for the Flyers. Just imagine what success this line will have with a rearguard as good as Denis Potvin helping out offensively. Leach is also in a pretty good position to succeed, all things considered.

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04-28-2012, 10:49 AM
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Third Lines

It's a pretty good matchup of shutdown centers here. Brind'Amour vs. Holik, Holik was known to be a pain in the ass for Brind'Amour.

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In the first round of the playoffs, Holik faced off against Rod Brind'Amour, who was Carolina's top center due to the absence of injured Keith Primeau. Brind'Amour was held to a single goal in six games.
I think if these two lines are to be pitted at each other at any point, Brind'Amour's scoring becomes a question. He is the better offensive player of the two, but I think I'd give the advantage to Holik in terms of shutdown ability, as he was one of the best of all time at what he did.

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Life and hockey have much in common to perfectionist Ron Ellis ... Imlach considers him the best two-way player after captain George Armstrong.
Armstrong was the better defensive winger of the two, and more consistently offensively over a long period of time. I think Armstrong holds a sufficient edge over Ellis.

Lambert was also a tough-as-nails type of player, who could effectively shutdown opposing players. I think if this third line is to meet with Gretzky-Kurri or Lafontaine-Mogilny, they will have a pretty good matchup, where they can shadow the forwards in effort to shut them down. Also, Lambert was pretty decent offensively. Murdoch, was not the strongest offensive player, but he was a reliable checking line winger who was pretty good defensively, although I do not think he is on the same level as Lambert.

Australia holds the advantage on third lines, this unit works as a shutdown line or a cycle line. It can wear down opposition by shutting them down, or by puck possession. Inglewood has the best offensive player in Brind'Amour, who is also a pretty good shutdown centre, but he is flanked by wingers who are both inferior to Australia's third line wingers.

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04-28-2012, 01:04 PM
  #50
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Leach an edge over Mogilny? Roflcopter.

Check the points finishes and percentages (no, not just goals); I doubt Leach is even close to Demitra either, and Demitra didn't play with Bobby Clarke.

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