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Jim Coleman Conference Prelim Round - New Jersey Swamp Devils vs Cincinnati Fireworks

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Old
04-15-2013, 04:44 AM
  #1
Sturminator
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Jim Coleman Conference Prelim Round - New Jersey Swamp Devils vs Cincinnati Fireworks

New Jersey Swamp Devils



Head Coach: Glen Sather
Assistant Coach: Roger Neilson

Sid Abel(A) - Phil Esposito - George Armstrong(C)
Ilya Kovalchuk - Milan Novy - Daniel Alfredsson(A)
Tony Leswick - Bill Thoms - Jerry Toppazzini
Ed Sandford- Ken Mosdell - Rejean Houle
Clint Smith

Paul Coffey - Bill White
Lloyd Cook - Tom Johnson
Gary Bergman - Doug Young
Miroslav Dvorak - Bob Dailey

Frank Brimsek
Jiri Kralik

PP
Sid Abel - Phil Esposito - Daniel Alfredsson
Ilya Kovalchuk - Paul Coffey

Milan Novy - Bill Thoms - George Armstrong
Lloyd Cook - Tom Johnson

PK
Ken Mosdell - Jerry Toppazzini
Tom Johnson - Bill White

Bill Thoms - Tony Leswick
Gary Bergman - Doug Young

Sid Abel - Daniel Alfredsson will take some shifts to press for SHGs

vs.

Cincinnati Fireworks




GM: Markrander87
Coach: Mike Kennan
Captain: Ted Kennedy
Alternate Captains: Mike Grant, Red Kelly

Frank Mahovlich - Ted Kennedy (C) - Bobby Rousseau
Harry Watson - Henrik Sedin - Charlie Conacher
Lynn Patrick - Duke Keats - Wilf Paiement
Patrick Marleau - Steve Kasper - Cully Wilson


Red Kelly (A) - Mike Grant (A)
Ken Reardon - Gennady Tsygankov
Bill Hajt - Lennart Svedberg

George Hainsworth
Olaf Kolzig


Spares: C Sami Pahlsson , D Jack "Tex" Evans, LW Dennis Hextall, F Patrick Sharp

PP 1:

Mahovlich – Sedin – Conacher
Kelly – Rousseau

PP 2:

Patrick - Kennedy - Keats
Reardon - Svedberg

PK 1:

Kasper - Kennedy
Tsygankov - Hajt

PK 2:

Rosseau - Kelly
Reardon- Grant


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 04-15-2013 at 02:20 PM.
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04-15-2013, 09:22 AM
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I vote New Jersey in 4....

The funny thing is I'm struggling to see how the Swamp Devils have any advantage when it comes to 1st and 2nd lines as well as 1st and second D pairings.

I change to New Jersey in 5.

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04-15-2013, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markrander87 View Post
I vote New Jersey in 4....

The funny thing is I'm struggling to see how the Swamp Devils have any advantage when it comes to 1st and 2nd lines as well as 1st and second D pairings.

I change to New Jersey in 5.

I think that you're in tough for sure, but you're also correct that there are openings because any team built around Esposito/Coffey has to play to their strengths.

You have to force them not to or take advantage of their attempts to.

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04-15-2013, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by markrander87 View Post
I vote New Jersey in 4....

The funny thing is I'm struggling to see how the Swamp Devils have any advantage when it comes to 1st and 2nd lines as well as 1st and second D pairings.

I change to New Jersey in 5.
NJ has a better top line, and it isn't close. You have the better second line because you put Charlie Conacher, probably your best offensive player, on the second line. Harry Watson is the worst second liner on either team, though.

NJ's top pairing is slightly better - the talent is close, but NJ's fit is better. Bill White is the perfect compliment to Paul Coffey, while Mike Grant really isn't the burly stay-at-home guy who would be the perfect fit for Kelly. I honestly think you need to stack Reardon with Kelly to even have a prayer of slowing down Phil Esposito.

Second pairings are too close to call. Small advantage for Reardon over Johnson, but advantage for Lloyd Cook over Tsygankov. Reardon's biggest weakness was lack of foot speed, which could give him big problems against the Kovalchuk line - how was Tsygankov's skating?

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04-15-2013, 02:16 PM
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Minor lineup change

Bill Thoms will play on the third line in this series. Mosdell will move to the 4th line.

The reason? Cincincatti doesn't have a center worth devoting a dedicated checker to. Ted Kennedy is a strong all-round player, but he's not an offensive dynamo at this level, and Cincinatti appears to be using him in a primarily defensive role.

Bill Thoms is a better offensive player than Ken Mosdell, and his presence on the third line gives NJ a third line that can score - negating Cincinatti's only major advantage heading into the series (greater scoring depth).

Thoms has been an underrated player in ATD for a long time, because for whatever reason, nobody really knew anything about him. Here are his VsX numbers (7 year prime) againsnt more known commodities:

Phil Goyette 74.9
Vincent Damphousse 74.2
Bill Thoms 74.2
Marc Savard 73.9
Eric Staal 73.8

I think that gives a pretty fair estimate of Thoms' offensive value. If you don't like the fancy new VsX comparison, Thoms' top 20 finishes are also quite nice for a 3rd liner:

Points – 4th(1936), 6th(1942), 7th(1928), 19th(1941)
Goals – 1st(1936), 19th(1942), 20th(1928)
Assists – 4th(1942), 5th(1928), 9th(1934), 14th(1943), 16th(1941)

And of course, Thoms isn't all offense - he was a strong two-way player, and the famous hockey pioneer Lloyd Percival (whose "Hockey Handbook" introduced Anatoli Tarasov to Canadian hockey) called out Thoms by name, along with Frank Nighbor, Frank Boucher, and Joe Primeau as the great stick checkers of the era.

I think in the end, Thoms should be considered on par with Phil Goyette as a two-way third liner in the draft.

And I think Tony Leswick (3 top 20 finishes in both points and goals) and Jerry Toppazzini (3 top 20 finishes in points) are good enough offensively not to waste Thoms' offense. Leswick's decent offense is why I drafted him so high over equally good defensive players like Klukay.


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04-15-2013, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
NJ has a better top line, and it isn't close.
It looks close.

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04-15-2013, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by monster_bertuzzi View Post
It looks close.
Then you're vastly underestimating Phil Esposito, who is by far the best player on either top line. His 5 Art Rosses are more than everyone else on both teams combined.

I think Sid Abel and Ted Kennedy are very close, with Abel having a moderate advantage in raw stats and missing 3 prime years due to the war, while Kennedy had much less help from his linemates and played for a more defensive-minded team.

George Armstrong isn't the strongest 1st liner, but I don't see what makes Bobby Rousseau any better.


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04-15-2013, 03:02 PM
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Agreed that New Jersey's top line is better, but why is their top pairing better? Kelly is easily better than Coffey, and I would need to be convinced that White is even as good as Grant.

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04-15-2013, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Then you're vastly underestimating Phil Esposito, who is by far the best player on either top line. His 5 Art Rosses are more than everyone else on both teams combined.

I think Sid Abel and Ted Kennedy are very close, with Abel having a moderate advantage in raw stats and missing 3 prime years due to the war, while Kennedy had much less help from his linemates and played for a more defensive-minded team.

George Armstrong isn't the strongest 1st liner, but I don't see what makes Bobby Rousseau any better.
Espo is the best player, but Mahovlich and Kennedy are solidly 2 and 3. Armstrong and Rousseau are a wash IMO. There's also the question of what Phil are you getting without Bobby Orr handling the puck behind him.

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04-15-2013, 03:11 PM
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Agreed that New Jersey's top line is better, but why is their top pairing better? Kelly is easily better than Coffey, and I would need to be convinced that White is even as good as Grant.
Kelly is definitely a step up from Coffey, but don't you think White is a step up from Grant?

As for Grant, I really am having trouble figuring out what you think about him. Last week, you said this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreakmur View Post
Mike Grant was probably the best defenseman in the world for a span of a couple years, but definitely wasn't the best of his era. Both Hod Stuart and Harvey Pulford are significantly better.
I'm confused - do you think all those guys are all better than Bill White, an NHL 2nd Team All Star (and Norris finalist) 3 years in a row?

I think there is a case for Grant, but he's still something of a mystery, and mark didn't really do any research on him. And I'm loath to give mystery players much of a pass when they are on ATD first pairings.

I see Bill White as a low-end #2, but Grant as more of a #3. We know from contemporaries that Mike Grant likely can't hold Hod Stuart's jock - how high do you have Hod Stuart?

Edit: When I said that I thought NJ's top pairing was a little better, I was assuming talent was equal with White as far ahead of Grant as Kelly is ahead of Coffey, but with NJ having better chemistry because I don't buy Grant as a stay-at-home guy. IF you think Mike Grant is good enough to be a low-end #2, then Cincy would have the better top pairing, but do you really think that?


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04-15-2013, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by monster_bertuzzi View Post
Espo is the best player, but Mahovlich and Kennedy are solidly 2 and 3. Armstrong and Rousseau are a wash IMO. There's also the question of what Phil are you getting without Bobby Orr handling the puck behind him.
How is Kennedy any better than Abel?

Their VsX 7 year scores:
Abel 87.8
Kennedy 81.5

Top 10 scoring finishes
Abel 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Kennedy 4, 5, 5, 9

Then consider the fact that two of Kennedy's best seasons (one top 10 and 2 top 20 finishes) were during World War 2, while Abel missed three years due to the war.

I feel like I'm already giving Kennedy full credit for weaker linemates and playoff heroics to have him at the same level as Abel.

Both were elite players in the trenches, so that's a wash there.

________________________

I see the forwards as this:

Esposito
(big gap)
Mahovlich
(small gap)
Abel/Kennedy
(big gap)
Armstrong/Rousseau

The support players are approximately equals, but Phil Esposito was a much better player than Frank Mahovlich.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 04-15-2013 at 05:52 PM. Reason: spelling
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04-15-2013, 03:24 PM
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Mike Grant

I'll leave Harvey Pulford aside, but I think there was a very large gap between Mike Grant and Hod Stuart - Stuart's era was much stronger and he dominated it more. Also, Stuart seems to be fondly remembered by those early "all time" lists, while Grant really isn't.

So it's tough to rank Mike Grant, but the easiest way to do it is to pin his ranking to Hod Stuart. Whereever you rank Hod Stuart, Grant should be a significant step behind. I have Stuart as a high-end #2, so I really don't buy Grant as a #2 at all - I think he probably fits in somewhere as a #3, but likely not an elite one.

From a skill-set perspective, Mike Grant was most famous for his rushes, but was also apparently solid defensively. You certainly can play two guys who are famous for their rushes but also good defensively next to each other, but I do think it is something less than the sum of their parts, since they can't both rush the puck at the same time.

I'm also not at all convinced that Grant can come close to handling Phil Esposito in the trenches. Who was the best forward of Grant's era? Dan Bain? I think Bain played in a different league though, right?

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04-15-2013, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by monster_bertuzzi View Post
Espo is the best player, but Mahovlich and Kennedy are solidly 2 and 3. Armstrong and Rousseau are a wash IMO. There's also the question of what Phil are you getting without Bobby Orr handling the puck behind him.
This is something that comes up every year, but I am pretty surprised to hear it this year...Offensively, Coffey is as close to Orr as you're going to get. If this combo doesn't work, then what does?

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04-15-2013, 04:12 PM
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Kelly is definitely a step up from Coffey, but don't you think White is a step up from Grant?
I'm not sure. As I said, I'd need a good argument to sway me either way.

Quote:
I'm confused - do you think all those guys are all better than Bill White, an NHL 2nd Team All Star (and Norris finalist) 3 years in a row?
I have Stuart and Pulford ahead of White, but I'm not sure about Grant.

Quote:
I think there is a case for Grant, but he's still something of a mystery, and mark didn't really do any research on him. And I'm loath to give mystery players much of a pass when they are on ATD first pairings.
That's not unfair.

Quote:
I see Bill White as a low-end #2, but Grant as more of a #3. We know from contemporaries that Mike Grant likely can't hold Hod Stuart's jock - how high do you have Hod Stuart?
I see both Grant and White as #3s.

I have Stuart in the mid-30s, but I know that's higher than most have him.[/QUOTE]

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04-15-2013, 04:59 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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I'm not sure. As I said, I'd need a good argument to sway me either way.



I have Stuart and Pulford ahead of White, but I'm not sure about Grant.
Well, I have Pulford as about Derian Hatcher's equal, both below White. It's a lot of guesswork involving those early players though. I know you generally give the earlier players the benefit of the doubt though, at least more than most, including me. Heck, I probably give them more of a benefit of the doubt than most, but you definitely do more than me.

Quote:
I have Stuart in the mid-30s, but I know that's higher than most have him.
That's not unreasonably high for Stuart IMO - that would basically make him as good as Marcel Pronovost or Jacques Laperriere, but with a different style obviously. The gap between Hod Stuart and Mike Grant is quite large though, IMO quite a bit larger than the gap between Pronovost/Laperriere and the Bill White/Fern Flaman/Harry Howell trio who I see as basically equals.

On the other hand, if you are like Sturminator and think Hod Stuart is about Ken Reardon's equal, then Mike Grant falls that much lower.

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04-16-2013, 04:06 PM
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Reardon's biggest weakness was lack of foot speed, which could give him big problems against the Kovalchuk line - how was Tsygankov's skating?
Strong. He wasn't blazing fast, but Tsygankov was definitely a good skater - good speed, agile, strong on his skates. He's an appropriate partner for Reardon, I think.


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04-16-2013, 08:02 PM
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NJ's two biggest advantages: Goaltending and Coaching

Goaltending

Not much to say here. The HOH Top Goalies project has Frank Brimsek in 9th and George Hainsworth in 22nd. The project isn't perfect, but I think that is essentially the correct range for both of them, give or take a couple spots in either direction.

Brimsek appears to have been the best goalie of his generation, with a regular season peak similar to Bill Durnan, but more longevity and at least a somewhat better playoff record.

Hainsworth, on the other hand, is the 3rd/4th best goalie of his generation along with Tiny Thompson, behind Charlie Gardiner and Roy Worters. We know that he was never selected the 1st Team All Star on the official teams or the unofficial teams voted by NHL GMs. We also have a full 1927-28 GM GM voted on team. 1927-28 was one of Hainsworth's 3 Vezina Trophies (for lowest Team GAA in the league). He set an NHL record for GAA that he would break the following year. And yet Roy Worters was voted 1st Teamer by a wide margin, and Hainsworth only finished a single vote ahead of Alec Connell for 2nd Team.

Coaching

A more interesting comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Keenan, reported in 1990 SI
Glen Sather is my role model. He doesn't operate out of the fear of making a decision but out of a sense of confidence that feeds through the entire organization. That confidence has sometimes been labeled as arrogance, but I have a great deal of respect for it.
In a vacuum, I think NJ has something of an advantage in coaching.

Keenan and Sather are probably the two best coaches of the 1980s not named Al Arbour. Keenan's innovation in bringing the modern short-shift game to the NHL is well documented. And Glen Sather has the best playoff record of any coach all time - yes, a lot of that has to do with the players, but it still takes a certain type of coach to get the most out of a group of star offensive players, and I do think there is a legitimate argument that coaching is one of the main reasons why Wayne Gretzky has 4 Cups, while Bobby Orr has only 2.

So where does NJ's advantage lie? Roger Neilson, whose coaching innovations got him inducted into the HHOF as a builder (for what it's worth, Glen Sather is in too, and Mike Keenan isn't though IMO he should be). I don't think that every head coach out there would make use of a strong assistant coach (guys with big egos like Imlach or Keenan certainly wouldn't). But Glen Sather was known as a big picture guy and "master player psychologist" who left a lot of the strategic details to his assistants. In Sather's profile, I have a quote from one of Sather's assistants at the 1994 World Championships, Canada's first gold medal at that tournament in 33 years:

Quote:
Later that year, I had the good fortune of working with Glen Sather when we built that World Championship Team. Glen gave me a lot of leeway.
...
We planned a very aggressive style with four men on the attack. We felt we had the right team to go for it and force other teams to handle our attack. To do this, we needed special defensive players to handle the potential outnumberings that might occur. Our special defensive players were Luke Richardson, Bobby Dollas, and Marc Bergevin. We were criticized before we left Canada because these guys were not your typical international players...

We were able to do something that 33 previous Canadian entries, many of which had better individual talent, couldn't accomplish. We were a team!
The above quote says a lot about Sather's relationship with his assistant coaches - Sather created the big picture model for how he wanted the team to run - generally aggressive offense-first, but with specific players in the lineup to take care of the defensive end of things. But he gave his assistants a lot of leeway in how to handle the details.

In Edmonton, he had John Muckler to diagram plays and remind the players to be responsible defensively - I see Roger Neilson playing the same role that Muckler did, and no offense to Muckler, but Neilson is a big step up as a coaching mind.

Why Glen Sather fits the Swamp Devils roster

The short version: Offense-first system, with specific role players to handle the defensive end of things. Sather also built his system around his players, rather than finding players who could fit a pre-existing system, which is necessary for unique talents like Phil Esposito and Paul Coffey.

The longer version:
  • Sather's general team building strategy was to load up on offensive talent ("the most talented team usually wins") and surround them with role players who can handle the defensive assignments - I think that's what I have on the Swamp Devils.
  • Sather did have the Oilers play a European-style skating system, but there is a lot of information in his bio about how he basically inherited Wayne Gretzky and spent the next few years doing nothing but working on building a team and system around Gretzky's talents. There is also a Wayne Gretzky quote in the Sather bio praising Sather for handling every player differently. I think that probably means he'll set up a system to adjust to the unique talent that was Phil Esposito (we already know Sather worked well with Coffey).
  • When Sather was making the transition from journeyman player to coach/GM in the WHA, he was very impressed by how the Winnipeg Jets handled their European players: "Glen Sather had been impressed by the likes of Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson, and other European players in the WHA. The point, Glen Sather knew, was not to import these players and then attempt to retrain them to play North American-style hockey. To some extent, the (Winnipeg) Jets embraced a European style - a winning style - of playing. That was another point not lost on Glen Sather. He liked the style and he liked winning." The Swamp Devils 2nd line is built to play a European-style skill get, rather than a North American dump and chase game.
  • Sather's players generally liked playing for him, but he was far from a pushover if he felt a player needed to be disciplined - he was known for randomly checking his players beds, for example. I think one of the problems in Boston in the 1970s was that the players basically walked all over the coaches, and Sather definitely wouldn't let that happen.

Mike Keenan and Cincinnati

Here's an article written by Jeremy Roenick about Mike Keenan, entitled Mike Keenan, the NHL's last great ******* coach

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Roenick
Playing for coach Mike Keenan in Chicago was like camping on the side of an active volcano. You had to accept the reality that he erupted regularly and that there was always a danger of being caught in his lava flow. He was a tyrant, a schoolyard bully, an oldschool coach who tried to motivate players through intimidation, belittlement and fear.

The truth is that Keenan scared me into being a better NHL player. I was 18 when I began to play for Iron Mike, and I was afraid of him.
...
The veterans on the team didn't fear Keenan; they merely despised him, and I believe Mike liked it that way. He was always hard on players, like a drill sergeant trying to ready recruits for the dangers ahead. Dealing with Mike's rants was one of the job requirements for being a Blackhawk. One night, the Blackhawks were playing in St. Louis, and Keenan became enraged about our effort to the point that he ripped out seven ceiling tiles in the visitors' dressing room.

Keenan was a screamer who thought nothing of singling out one of his players for a personal attack, just to let the team know how upset he was with how the team was performing. Over the course of the season, Keenan had accused most of his players of being "chicken****" or "an embarrassment to your family."

"You don't deserve to be in the ****in' league," Keenan would often scream at you. "You should be ashamed of the way you are playing."

Mercy was not usually on the table when Keenan had a lock on a player
Keenan will love Cincy's leadership group. He'll ride Ted Kennedy hard in all situations, and he'll he'll love the toughness of Harry Watson and Ken Reardon. I don't see him having any problems with Red Kelly. But there are 3 specific Cincinnati players (all in prominent positions) who I see Keenan really having issues with.

1) Frank Mahovlich

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
During this time Mahovlich averaged over 30 goals a year, but there was much criticism of him from coach Imlach and a loud number of the fans who bought into Imlach's campaign. It seemed nothing Mahovlich could do was good enough. Things got so bad that the Big M was actually hospitalized with acute tension and depression, and later would leave the game after suffering a nervous breakdown. Described as a shy and sensitive person, the hockey prodigy paid a high price for hockey stardom.
Mike Keenan might be one of the few coaches in hockey history who was even harder on his players than Punch Imlach

2) Henrik Sedin. Hawkey Town pointed out that Mike Keenan and Denis Savard had a very bad relationship in Chicago:

Quote:
When Keenan was coach and later general manager of the Hawks for a four-year period starting in 1988, Savard was finishing out a Hall of Fame playing career. Savard's playing style didn't fit Keenan's coaching style, and that surfaced in a variety of ways. Keenan reduced Savard's ice time, stripped him of his captaincy and finally traded him to the Montreal Canadiens for Chris Chelios.
Keenan hated Savard's playing style. Henrik Sedin isn't Denis Savard, but he does share some of Savard's "faults" - I think Sedin is a bit better defensively than Savard, but he's softer.

3) Lynn Patrick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangers Top 100 book
Ar six-feet, 200 pounds, Patrick had a better-than-average hockey body [...] He was a finesse player, prefer to dazzle on his skates and with his stick, eschewing the more robust exploit of some of his teammates, particularly the his rolllicking, hard-checking brother Muzz.

Madison Square Garden crowds often teased him with nicLknames such as ''twinkletoes'' or ''Sonja'', the latter a reference to the world-famous figure skating star of the era, Sonja Henie. Patrick merely shrugged it off, much as he had criticism and doubt that came earlier from, of all places, within his own family.
Keenan liked his players to be tough - Keenan was fairly unique among modern great coaches in that his teams were usually highly penalized. And we know how merciless he was towards players who didn't fit his mold.

Conclusion

In a vacuum, NJ has something of a coaching advantage. Even if Keenan is Sather's equal (and I'm not sure he is), Roger Neilson brings a lot to NJ's bench and is exactly the type of guy who could work well with Sather.

Once player-coach chemistry is taken into account, NJ has a pretty substantial advantage.

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04-23-2013, 02:08 PM
  #18
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New Jersey defeats Cincinnati in four games.

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04-23-2013, 02:41 PM
  #19
Reds4Life
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In four? Damn, that's just downright silly.

I voted for New Jersey, but in 7.

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04-23-2013, 02:48 PM
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vecens24
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Originally Posted by Reds4Life View Post
In four? Damn, that's just downright silly.

I voted for New Jersey, but in 7.
All it means is that, most likely, everyone voted for NJ. I don't think that NJ would win this series in 4, but I do struggle to see how they would lose it at all.

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04-23-2013, 02:51 PM
  #21
Reds4Life
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Originally Posted by vecens24 View Post
All it means is that, most likely, everyone voted for NJ. I don't think that NJ would win this series in 4, but I do struggle to see how they would lose it at all.
Yea, but I doubt most people voted a 4-0 sweep.
A better system would be to add up the points for each team and the divide by the number of voters. That way, we'd get far more realistic results.

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04-23-2013, 02:55 PM
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markrander87
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Originally Posted by Reds4Life View Post
In four? Damn, that's just downright silly.

I voted for New Jersey, but in 7.
You're actually surprised??

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04-23-2013, 02:58 PM
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reds4Life View Post
Yea, but I doubt most people voted a 4-0 sweep.
A better system would be to add up the points for each team and the divide by the number of voters. That way, we'd get far more realistic results.
A more realistic result would be not to have the 1st round, at all. We shouldn't really expect that most series in the ATD 1st round will really be all that close. Your system would make a four game sweep virtually impossible. Is that realistic? The bottom line is that no one voted for Cincinnati to win. I think the matchup was closer than the result, as well, but the voting is what it is.

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04-23-2013, 03:14 PM
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We have this discussion every time unanimous voting results in a sweep.

I agree it looks off when you see it but the only way to fix it is make more work for people compiling.

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04-23-2013, 09:23 PM
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Damn, it really does seem like an agenda against Mark and his antics for a team lead by Kelly Mahovlich, Conacher, and Kennedy to be a last place team swept in the first round.

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