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Jim Coleman Conference Finals - New Jersey Swamp Devils vs. Pittsburgh AC

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Old
05-07-2013, 02:06 AM
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Jim Coleman Conference Finals - New Jersey Swamp Devils vs. Pittsburgh AC

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 - Ken Mosdell - Jerry Toppazzini
Ed Sandford - Bill Thoms - 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

Kovalchuk moves up front when NJ has a lead late in the third period; Lloyd Cook takes his place on the first unit.

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.

Pittsburgh Athletic Club

Coach: Cecil Hart

Bert Olmstead - Jean Beliveau (C) - Andy Bathgate
Sweeney Schriner - Bernie Morris - Steve Larmer
Red Berenson (A) - Neil Colville - Jimmy Ward
Ryan Walter - Thomas Steen (A) - Jim Pappin
Barney Stanley, Murph Chamberlain

Brian Leetch - Alexei Kasatonov
Barry Beck - Pat Stapleton
Willie Mitchell - Frank Patrick
Ryan Suter, Bryan McCabe

Chuck Rayner
John Ross Roach

PP1:
Olmstead - Beliveau - Morris
Leetch - Bathgate

PP2:
Schriner - Colville - Larmer
Patrick - Stapleton

PK1:
Berenson - Larmer
Beck - Kasatonov

PK2:
Steen - Walter
Leetch - Mitchell


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 05-07-2013 at 02:38 AM.
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Old
05-07-2013, 02:37 AM
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Looking forward to this one, BBS.

This is the first playoff series in which I'm actually going to use my standard checking line of Leswick, Mosdell, and Toppazzini. I'll update the OP accordingly.

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05-07-2013, 07:21 AM
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What a spectacle of speed and skill this series would be in real life; there might be 70 goals scored. I don't think either team is going to defend the other all that effectively. This one should be a real barn-burner.

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05-07-2013, 07:54 AM
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Not all that so much speed (given that the slowest top line in the draft is participating here), but there's a lot of skill, and Pittsburgh's blueline is one hell of offensive support.

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05-07-2013, 02:50 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Swamp Devils estimated player usage this series

I bolded things that I added for this series

forwardESPPPKTotal
Sid Abel15 4120
Phil Esposito175022
George Armstrong153018
Ilya Kovalchuk135018
Milan Novy123015
Daniel Alfredsson134118
Tony Leswick130316
Ken Mosdell130316
Jerry Toppazzini130316
Ed Sandford6006
Bill Thoms52310
Rejean Houle6006
Total1382614178
  • Phil Esposito gets his extra time by taking long shifts, mostly at the expense of Novy and Thoms
  • The Mosdell line will be matched up against the Beliveau line when possible.

defenseESPPPKTotal
Paul Coffey206026
Bill White190423
Lloyd Cook152<117
Tom Johnson181423
Gary Bergman110316
Doug Young90312
Total92914114
  • Bergman-Johnson will sometimes be paired together, mostly in defensive situations
  • Only 9 of 46 min of ES ice time when neither the top pairing nor Tom Johnson is on the ice
  • For defensive zone draws, at the end of periods, Johnson-White could be put together. For offensive zone draws, at the end of periods, Cook-Coffey could be put together.


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05-07-2013, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
What a spectacle of speed and skill this series would be in real life; there might be 70 goals scored. I don't think either team is going to defend the other all that effectively. This one should be a real barn-burner.
Yeah, I definitely think this will be a high scoring series, with both teams definitely built as offense-first.

The key for NJ is that we have the role players to shut things down when we absolutely have to. I absolutely love Pittsburgh's offensive talent and think they are one of the strongest entries this year, but I've been pretty open this whole time that given the offensive nature of Pittsburgh's top 6 forwards, they really could have used more defense from their bottom 6. On a shift-to-shift basis, both offense and defense matter, but when it comes time to have a defensive zone draw at the end of a period, or even more importantly, at the end of the game with the other team's goalie pulled, you need players who can shut things down. I'll post more about NJ's checking line in a bit, because I do think they will be one of the keys to this series.

If NJ is defending a lead with a minute left, we have the ability to put Tom Johnson - Bill White out there on the ice to try to shut things down. Who does Pittsburgh put out? Their top PK pairing of Beck - Kasatonov doesn't compare (and are both LH shots for what that's worth; Bill White is a rightie. I don't think it matters much at even strength where Kasatonov is proven to play on the right side, but it's a small advantage on a 4-on-5 or 5-on-6 situation). Brian Leetch was generally more defensively aware than Paul Coffey, but his weakness was that he (unlike Coffey) was fairly soft, and against NJ's physically dominant top line, I don't see Leetch being any more effective defensively than Coffey. It's not like Leetch was a defensive stud himself.

Likewise, both these teams have dominant power plays. At first glance, I think the first units are basically even - Phil Esposito and Jean Beliveau are for my money, the top 2 PP net presences of all-time in either order, Leetch/Coffey cancel out on the PP, Bathgate > Kovalchuk, Abel/Alfredsson > Morris/Olmstead). Pittsburgh does have the better 2nd PP. But NJ's penalty kill is far better than Pittsburgh's, since we invested fairly heavily in defensive-minded role players to compliment our offensive talent.

Then, of course, NJ has a much better goalie.

I'm really looking forward to this series - hopefully BBS will be around to have a nice debate. But everything else aside, I really do think the one big advantage NJ has is that the Swamp Devils are much better equipped to shut things down at the very end of a 1 goal game.

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05-07-2013, 05:36 PM
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Looking forward to the series as well, worth noting New Jersey takes the home ice advantage in this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Yeah, I definitely think this will be a high scoring series, with both teams definitely built as offense-first.

The key for NJ is that we have the role players to shut things down when we absolutely have to. I absolutely love Pittsburgh's offensive talent and think they are one of the strongest entries this year, but I've been pretty open this whole time that given the offensive nature of Pittsburgh's top 6 forwards, they really could have used more defense from their bottom 6. On a shift-to-shift basis, both offense and defense matter, but when it comes time to have a defensive zone draw at the end of a period, or even more importantly, at the end of the game with the other team's goalie pulled, you need players who can shut things down. I'll post more about NJ's checking line in a bit, because I do think they will be one of the keys to this series.

If NJ is defending a lead with a minute left, we have the ability to put Tom Johnson - Bill White out there on the ice to try to shut things down. Who does Pittsburgh put out? Their top PK pairing of Beck - Kasatonov doesn't compare (and are both LH shots for what that's worth; Bill White is a rightie. I don't think it matters much at even strength where Kasatonov is proven to play on the right side, but it's a small advantage on a 4-on-5 or 5-on-6 situation). Brian Leetch was generally more defensively aware than Paul Coffey, but his weakness was that he (unlike Coffey) was fairly soft, and against NJ's physically dominant top line, I don't see Leetch being any more effective defensively than Coffey. It's not like Leetch was a defensive stud himself.
Beck - Kasatonov would be my best bet in an end of game situation, but yeah it's definitely not Johnson - White. Kasatonov was something of a master flipping the puck on his backhand up ice though, so he's definitely not handicapped with his team down a player on his (natural) off-side.

Hockey Scouting Report 1992-1993
One of the league's better penalty-killing defensemen, an underrated Kasatonov skill is lifting the puck from deep in his defensive zone to center ice on his backhand. Few players can do it as quickly and effectively (although it is apparent he has taught some of his Devils teammates the trick). He uses this clearing technique during the penalty kills and it is extremely frustrating to opponents.

Hockey Scouting Report 1993-1994
Kasatonov is an excellent penalty-killer. He is expert at breaking up passes, plays well positionally and has a great knack for clearing the zone by lifting the puck out on his backhand. It's a rare skill.

I'll probably use a revolving door of right wingers with Olmstead-Beliveau to take defensive zone draws to close out periods/late in the third with the goalie pulled. Larmer and Ward would be best for the role, but Walter could be thrown out there if I need an insurance policy should Beliveau get kicked out of the dot.

The key for Leetch against your top unit will be his abilities in the transition game. Your top line is fairly slow with Esposito and Armstrong, so Leetch is going to have to get the puck moving quickly to counter their physicality.

Quote:
Likewise, both these teams have dominant power plays. At first glance, I think the first units are basically even - Phil Esposito and Jean Beliveau are for my money, the top 2 PP net presences of all-time in either order, Leetch/Coffey cancel out on the PP, Bathgate > Kovalchuk, Abel/Alfredsson > Morris/Olmstead). Pittsburgh does have the better 2nd PP. But NJ's penalty kill is far better than Pittsburgh's, since we invested fairly heavily in defensive-minded role players to compliment our offensive talent.
Agreed comparable top units, decent edge to Pittsburgh on the second, and biggest advantage for New Jersey in penalty killing.

Quote:
Then, of course, NJ has a much better goalie.

I'm really looking forward to this series - hopefully BBS will be around to have a nice debate. But everything else aside, I really do think the one big advantage NJ has is that the Swamp Devils are much better equipped to shut things down at the very end of a 1 goal game.
Goalies definitely are not close here. It's basically Lumley vs Brimsek again (even though I prefer Rayner to Lumley).

I agree New Jersey is definitely more equipped to hold leads and win a one goal game, but I think Pittsburgh is better offensively when you factor in the bluelines.

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05-07-2013, 07:29 PM
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Swamp Devils checking line

Ken Mosdell

I see Mosdell as a good but not great checking line center at this level, but one with a skill set that matches up well against Beliveau. In this round, I finally get to use him to do what he was drafted to do - check a big, skilled center (I felt like I needed someone like that with Mario Lemieux in my division). I think Mosdell has the skill set to match up pretty well against Jean Beliveau.

Mosdell isn't as big as Beliveau, but he's almost as tall, has good reach, was pretty physical, was a good puck possession player, and was a good skater for a big man.

Mosdell was the top defensive forward on the 1946, 1953, and 1956 Cup winners, left and then returned to Montreal and saw limited action on the 1959 Cup winner.

All these quotes are in Mosdell's profile, but I'm trying to condense them here to make them easier to read:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
One of the NHL's top defensive specialists in the 1940s and 1950s was Montreal born Ken Mosdell.

Kenny Mosdell, a four time Stanley Cup champion with the Canadiens, saw big ice time as the Habs #1 shutdown guy. Mosdell would get the call every time the opposing team sent its No. 1 line into action. If it was Boston, he'd be out there against Milt Schmidt; if it was Detroit, he'd be checking Sid Abel of the Production Line, which had Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay as the wingers; if it was Toronto, No. 18 Mosdell would be all over the Leafs' Syl Apps.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Though he was a scorer in the junior ranks,Mosdell's tireless skating, along with his poke- checking and stick-handling abilities, convinced coach Dick Irvin he was more valuable as a puck-control defender.
Quote:
Originally Posted by legendsofhockey
the wiry center became known for his penalty-killing and defensive work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Our history
The rangy, 6-foot-1, 170-pound center brought both speed and toughness to the rink every day. On a team where the Punch Line regularly topped the NHL scoring lists, Mosdell’s talents were put to use in a defensive role.
...
For the next 10 seasons, Mosdell was a fixture in the Habs’ lineup. A determined backchecker and more than capable of using his body, Mosdell was an important cog in the Habs’ machine of the late 1940s and early 1950s
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calgary Herald, 1954
they could always count on him as one of the best defensive centers in the big time.
The Herald article was about Mosdell's breakout offensive season and was mostly about why the Habs kept him around for so long before then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd Curry, Mosdell's linemate
He was a good strong skater and very good at moving with the puck
Tony Leswick

Leswick will be match up against Andy Bathgate. Leswick was one of the fastest players in his era, so he will be able to keep up with Bathgate there. He was very good defensively, extremely physical despite not being all that large, and is one of the greatest agitators of all time.

Jerry Toppazzini

There are numerous quotes in Toppazzini's profile about his fore-checking, hustle, and spark plug nature. He used these attributes to be one of the best penalty killers of all-time, but he was a pretty good two-way player at even strength too.

Bert Olmstead is a good glue guy for an ATD line, but I don't think he's offensively potent enough to deserve special attention like Beliveau or Bathgate. So I think Toppazzini's fore-checking will be very useful to provide defensive support to his linemates, and perhaps disrupt Brian Leetch and Pat Stapleton's break out passes a little bit.

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05-08-2013, 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Bring Back Scuderi View Post

I'll probably use a revolving door of right wingers with Olmstead-Beliveau to take defensive zone draws to close out periods/late in the third with the goalie pulled. Larmer and Ward would be best for the role, but Walter could be thrown out there if I need an insurance policy should Beliveau get kicked out of the dot.
I know I mentioned this in a brief comment in another series, but it really is unknown territory for Jean Beliveau. All of the following is based on Montreal's rosters via hockey-reference.com:

When Beliveau broke into the league for half a season in 1953-54, Montreal already had Ken Mosdell and an aging Elmer Lach. Henri Richard came to Montreal in 1955-56 and Mosdell was dropped down to full time checking duties again. Mosdell was replaced by Ralph Backstrom for the 1956-57 season.

For the large majority of Beliveau's career (1956-57 to 1970-71), Henri Richard and Ralph Backstrom were Montreals 2nd and 3rd line centers. For 6 years of that time frame (1957-58 to 1962-63), Phil Goyette was Montreal's 4th line center.

I think it's safe to say that in real life, Beliveau rarely saw the toughest defensive assignments on Montreal. In fact, given the defensive reputations of those other guys, Beliveau almost certainly had the least defensive role of any of Montreal's center in real life for most if not all of his career.

Beliveau was a solid defensive player, but he's a hell of a lot more than solid in the offensive zone. To the extent that there are going to be important defensive zone draws that aren't just during the last shift of the period, giving Beliveau more time in the defensive zone is less time he can see in the offensive zone.

Quote:
The key for Leetch against your top unit will be his abilities in the transition game. Your top line is fairly slow with Esposito and Armstrong, so Leetch is going to have to get the puck moving quickly to counter their physicality.
That will work sometimes especially early in the series, but Leetch was a guy who could be forced into making mistakes in his own zone if he was physically abused. His best years in real life were with Jeff Beukeboom as his partner and bodyguard. Leetch's defensive game went in the toilet after 1997, and some people do think that losing his bodyguard was a factor (another theory is that he was getting caught up ice more often as he slowed down with age).

Sid Abel and George Armstrong were extremely physical players, and they will get the green light to "finish their checks" on Brian Leetch and Pat Stapleton to wear them down over the course of what should prove to be a long series. I thinK Beck at least will do a pretty good job of protecting Stapleton, but he still can't stop him from being hit all the time.

Quote:
Agreed comparable top units, decent edge to Pittsburgh on the second, and biggest advantage for New Jersey in penalty killing.


Goalies definitely are not close here. It's basically Lumley vs Brimsek again (even though I prefer Rayner to Lumley).
I also prefer Rayner to Lumley, but yeah, neither is in Brimsek's league. This is definitely a welcome change for me to be able to claim an advantage in goaltending most of the time.

Quote:
I agree New Jersey is definitely more equipped to hold leads and win a one goal game, but I think Pittsburgh is better offensively when you factor in the bluelines.
I do think Pittsburgh has a more potent top line than NJ's.

But I don't see an advantage in offense from the blue line for Pittsburgh.

Paul Coffey is a significantly better offensive player than Brian Leetch. We've all seen the VsX tables, but looking at their top 10 points finishes really drives the point home:

Paul Coffey: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 9th
Brian Leetch: 9th

Finishing top 10 in points by a defenseman is extremely rare, and Leetch is in truly elite company just by doing it once. But Paul Coffey did it 6 times. And it wasn't all playing with Gretzky and Lemieux - he led the Red Wings in scoring when he was 6th overall in 1994-95, and Mario Lemieux missed 21 games when Coffey was 9th in overall scoring in 1989-90.

Sure, Kasatonov is a better offensive player than Bill White, but I really would need some convincing that it makes up the gap between Coffey and Leetch. Plus, I think that if you are the partner of a puck rusher who takes lots of chances like those two, you're going to be spending a lot of time staying back.

NJ's second pairing is something of a shutdown pairing, something I really thought I needed with Paul Coffey on the first pairing. I really am struggling with figuring out how good Lloyd Cook was offensively. Dreakmur posted here that according to his consolidation study (which involves a lot of guesswork, but it's educated guesswork) that Cook's offensive peak comes out as 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd among all defensemen among the three leagues, which is excellent. I don't think the numbers are concrete enough to actually compare to modern NHL scoring, but they do show that Cook put up some very good numbers in his day. I do know that Cook peaked at 3rd overall in PCHA scoring - 3rd among all players, not just defensemen in 1922-23, and there were still some good players in the PCHA that year. I doubt Cook is as good offensively as Pat Stapleton, but I think his offense is probably similar to Frank Patrick.

Tom Johnson is another guy whose offensive upside is hard to figure out, but for a different reason. The year that Harvey was injured and Johnson won the Norris with a more offensive role, he did finish 2nd to Bill Gadsby in scoring among defensemen. So he definitely has offensive upside, even if he didn't get a chance to show it consistently.


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05-08-2013, 03:54 AM
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I don't know if it makes a difference to anyone, but I bumped up Paul Coffey's estimated ice time by a minute at the expense of Gary Bergman. I'm not sure when he would see the extra minute, but I'm sure Sather would find room, perhaps next to Lloyd Cook for offensive zone draws. From what I know about the Edmonton Oilers, Sather played Coffey in as many offensive situations as possible, and Kevin Lowe in as many defensive situations as possible, and the other defensemen were secondary (though both Coffey and Lowe did have their normal partners). I see Tom Johnson playing the role of Kevin Lowe for the Swamp Devils.

At his best, Paul Coffey was a real game breaker, and I think giving him a little bit extra ice time in this series is good for two reasons:

1) Pittsburgh does have a lot of skill and offensive ability on their blue line, but they have nothing like Coffey (not even Leetch).
2) I don't think Pittsburgh really has the centers to hold up Coffey in the neutral zone when he's involved offensively.


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05-08-2013, 04:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
That will work sometimes especially early in the series, but Leetch was a guy who could be forced into making mistakes in his own zone if he was physically abused. His best years in real life were with Jeff Beukeboom as his partner and bodyguard. Leetch's defensive game went in the toilet after 1997, and some people do think that losing his bodyguard was a factor (another theory is that he was getting caught up ice more often as he slowed down with age).
I'd say it was a combination of factors. Leetch did slow down a bit in his late 20's for whatever reason. He also did do best with physical partners and losing Boom Boom probably hurt him, somewhat. Finally, the Rangers really lost their cohesion under Suckler, and played much worse team defense up and down the lineup starting in 1997-98. Leetch's decline was part of the problem, but poor performance by the team, as a whole, also made his decline look sharper than it really was, imo.

Quote:
Sure, Kasatonov is a better offensive player than Bill White, but I really would need some convincing that it makes up the gap between Coffey and Leetch. Plus, I think that if you are the partner of a puck rusher who takes lots of chances like those two, you're going to be spending a lot of time staying back.
I don't think Kasatonov's offensive production does fully bridge the gap, though in K's defense, he spent most of his career covering for Fetisov, who loved to rush the puck at even strength. So I think we can at least take Kasatonov's offensive credentials at face value in this situation rather than downgrading them because he's going to have to cover for his partner a lot.

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05-08-2013, 07:00 AM
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Regarding the controversy around Andy Bathgate's VsX scores, I think the biggest problem lies here:

Quote:
1958-59:
1. Moore - 96
2. Beliveau - 91
3. Bathgate - 88
4. Howe - 78
5. Litzenberger - 77
6. Geoffrion - 66
7. Sullivan - 63
8. Hebenton - 62
8. Sloan - 62
8. McKenney - 62
...average as benchmark: 75
...which nets Andy a whopping and probably exaggerated 117. If we simply take the first 10% cutoff (between Bathgate and Howe) for the averaging method rather than the second (between Litzenberger and Geoffrion), then we end up with this:

Quote:
1958-59:
1. Moore - 96
2. Beliveau - 91
3. Bathgate - 88
4. Howe - 78
5. Litzenberger - 77
6. Geoffrion - 66
...average as benchmark: 83
...and Andy ends up with a score of 106 for this season, which is probably a more reasonable result. For 1956-57, Andy is sort of in-between an upper tier, and a much lower pack:

Quote:
1956-57:
1. Howe - 89
2. Lindsay - 85
3. Beliveau - 84
4. Bathgate - 77
5. Litzenberger - 64
6. M. Richard - 62
7. McKenney - 60
8. Moore - 58
...average as benchmark: 72
Here, he only narrowly misses being more than 10% behind Beliveau, himself. The most sensible solution for this season would probably just be to use Andy's 77 points as the benchmark and call it a day, with maybe some rule like if a single player in the top-5 is more than 8% away from the players above and below him, then his score is chosen as the benchmark. This would net Andy a score of 100 for this season, rather than the 107 he got in the old system.

For this season:

Quote:
1957-58:
1. Moore - 84
2. H. Richard - 80
3. Bathgate - 78
4. Howe - 77
5. Horvath - 66
6. Litzenberger - 62
7. MacKell - 60
8. Delvecchio - 59
...average as benchmark: 71
...I am confident that the top-4 are all, indeed, outliers, and I think the VsX methodology sets the benchmark well in this case. The above changes end up giving us ten outliers from the three seasons affected, still a very large number for any era, but not as wild as the 13 we had before.

At any rate, I know this is all an aside to the series at hand, but I though we should maybe try to discuss what to do with VsX scoring during Andy's prime without just throwing the results out, completely. Even in a more moderated system, Bathgate's scoring prime looks to have been better than what canon has told us all these years.

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05-08-2013, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Tony Leswick

Leswick will be match up against Andy Bathgate. Leswick was one of the fastest players in his era, so he will be able to keep up with Bathgate there. He was very good defensively, extremely physical despite not being all that large, and is one of the greatest agitators of all time.
That part of his game will be useless against a player like Bathgate.

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05-08-2013, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreakmur View Post
That part of his game will be useless against a player like Bathgate.
Yes, lets agitate a cucumber!

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05-08-2013, 12:40 PM
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I think a huge part of this series personnel-wise is going to be how effective Paul Coffey is, and how often he is out with the first NJ line. Pittsburgh possesses great puck moving ability on the back end, and it's entirely possible that they can move the puck out on a dump-in before that first line can get in there, and Armstrong/Abel can slug it out in the corners. I still maintain it's a fairly significant problem that every Pittsburgh defenseman is left handed, but their ability to break the puck out, and break it out quick, is going to be huge. That's where Paul Coffey comes in. If he is effective in carrying the puck and helping that first line, then they'll be okay. At the same time, that means that it's going to be Bill White left by himself against the most dangerous top 6 in the draft, supplemented by one of the best puck-moving corps of the draft, so Coffey may not be able to afford to be so adventurous considering how they could get burned. It's a real conundrum that NJ is caught in, push to help the first line and score more goals, but let up more. Or be less adventurous and hang back, and the forwards will be less effective.

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05-08-2013, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by BillyShoe1721 View Post
I think a huge part of this series personnel-wise is going to be how effective Paul Coffey is, and how often he is out with the first NJ line. Pittsburgh possesses great puck moving ability on the back end, and it's entirely possible that they can move the puck out on a dump-in before that first line can get in there, and Armstrong/Abel can slug it out in the corners. I still maintain it's a fairly significant problem that every Pittsburgh defenseman is left handed, but their ability to break the puck out, and break it out quick, is going to be huge. That's where Paul Coffey comes in. If he is effective in carrying the puck and helping that first line, then they'll be okay. At the same time, that means that it's going to be Bill White left by himself against the most dangerous top 6 in the draft, supplemented by one of the best puck-moving corps of the draft, so Coffey may not be able to afford to be so adventurous considering how they could get burned. It's a real conundrum that NJ is caught in, push to help the first line and score more goals, but let up more. Or be less adventurous and hang back, and the forwards will be less effective.
Paul Coffey will almost always be out there with NJ's top line; that's why he was drafted. You don't draft Paul Coffey if you want him to play it safe; it's a waste of what he's best at. There will be a preference for starting that unit for offensive zone draws, so they pin the opponents in the offensive zone, especially off a winning faceoff.

In transition, you have to actually force Coffey to give up the puck before you get to break up the play and head the other way. That's what made Orr so effective, he had the ability to hold the puck for long enough that the Cashman-Esposito-Hodge line got set in the offensive zone. Abel is definitely faster than Cashman and Hodge for what it's worth, but that isn't saying much. Once play enters the offensive zone (which will mainly be Coffey's job on the first unit), the power of NJ's top line takes over in the cycle game, and a physically weaker defenseman like Brian Leetch will be at a disadvantage.

Paul Coffey will push the offense, he was drafted to do that, and he doesn't play any other way.

NJ's desired matchup is to get the Mosdell line out to check the Beliveau line, backed up by Tom Johnson. That's the only real matchup we care about. NJ has a better coaching staff (does anyone disagree?) and home ice advantage in the case of game 7.

Maybe this will help:
  • NJ's 1st line (the Espo line) will usually be out there with the Coffey-White pairing and play to score
  • NJ's checking line (the Mosdell line) will be mostly out there with Tom Johnson. They will be matchup up against Jean Beliveau whenever possible. In road games, maybe they take a lot of defensive zone draws if getting matchups proves to be tough.
  • NJ's 2nd line will be out there with all 3 defense pairings (as D pairings see more ice time than forwards), but they will be the primary line that NJ's 3rd pairing will play with. Kovalchuk will be the primary transition player of that unit - he's an end-to-end guy, which has its issues, but it makes puck moving from the D less important.


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05-08-2013, 01:34 PM
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That part of his game will be useless against a player like Bathgate.
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Yes, lets agitate a cucumber!
True. When Bathgate got pissed off, he wrote newspaper articles calling out other players, he didn't retaliate on the ice.

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05-08-2013, 01:58 PM
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True. When Bathgate got pissed off, he wrote newspaper articles calling out other players, he didn't retaliate on the ice.
Andy's father had been a boxer, and he seems to have been a good fighter when he felt like it. Bathgate did beat a few guys up over the years, once pummeling Vic Stasiuk twice in the same game as the story goes. But he evidently didn't think that's what hockey should be all about and was generally difficult to provoke. Considering that Andy led the league in playoff PIMs in 1957 in only five games, I'm guessing the Habs managed to provoke him that year. I doubt he'd drop the gloves with Leswick in this series, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

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05-08-2013, 01:59 PM
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Andy's father had been a boxer, and he seems to have been a good fighter when he felt like it. Bathgate did beat a few guys up over the years, once pummeling Vic Stasiuk twice in the same game as the story goes. But he evidently didn't think that's what hockey should be all about and was generally difficult to provoke. Considering that Andy led the league in playoff PIMs in 1957 in only five games, I'm guessing the Habs managed to provoke him that year. I doubt he'd drop the gloves with Leswick in this series, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
I'd rather see Olmstead vs. Leswick

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05-08-2013, 02:02 PM
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2nd lines

I realize this is somewhat out of order, but this is what I felt like writing about now, guess somewhat in response to Billy calling Pittsburgh's top 6 the best in the draft.

To the extent that Pittsburgh's 2nd line is one of the better ones in the draft, it's really because of Schriner alone. Morris and Larmer are effective 2nd liners, but nothing special - I see Morris as a small step down from his contemporary Frank Fredrickson, and Steve Larmer is something of a lesser Daniel Alfredsson - a player with unimpressive size who plays his heart out in all zones and leaves it all on the ice, but a guy whose size could occasionally be a disadvantage.

Morris and Novy were non-NHL players (and I would guess fairly close in value though who knows for sure). Here are the 7 year VxX scorers of the wingers:

Schriner: 91.9
Kovalchuk: 84.3
Alfredsson: 82.6
Larmer: 72.1

Their 10 year VxX scores

Schriner: (pre-expansion player, non applicable)
Kovalchuk: 78.5
Alfredsson: 78.4
Larmer: 68.8

Statistically, there is a bigger gap between Alfredsson and Larmer than between Schriner and Kovalchuk. Larmer also had his best offensive seasons played as the "glue guy" for Denis Savard, while Alfredsson created his own offense more. Perhaps there is something to be said for having the dominant player on either line, though.

Defending Schriner

First, it's worth noting as Billy did earlier than Schriner did see something of a decline in his production in the playoffs. From 0.84 PPG in the regular season (485 points in 405 games) to 0.49 PPG in the playoffs (29 points in 59 games) - a drop of 71%. That's large for any era. I don't think it's unfair to look at career numbers for Schriner, since he was actually better in the playoffs when he was past his regular season prime, but it's always possible I'm missing something important.

NJ isn't going to jump through hoops to defend Schriner - our best defensive players will be focused on Beliveau and Bathgate. But it is worth noting that every one of NJ's RWs is strong defensively.


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05-08-2013, 02:06 PM
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Andy's father had been a boxer, and he seems to have been a good fighter when he felt like it. Bathgate did beat a few guys up over the years, once pummeling Vic Stasiuk twice in the same game as the story goes. But he evidently didn't think that's what hockey should be all about and was generally difficult to provoke. Considering that Andy led the league in playoff PIMs in 1957 in only five games, I'm guessing the Habs managed to provoke him that year. I doubt he'd drop the gloves with Leswick in this series, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
Bathgate hated the Habs - I know in his famous article about violence in hockey, he called out Tom Johnson and Doug Harvey as two of the worst offenders of dirty stickwork.

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05-08-2013, 02:29 PM
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Bathgate hated the Habs - I know in his famous article about violence in hockey, he called out Tom Johnson and Doug Harvey as two of the worst offenders of dirty stickwork.
I believe it was Red Sullivan's burst spleen and near death on the ice after a Doug Harvey spear that specifically motivated Bathgate to write the article.

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05-08-2013, 06:58 PM
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I know I mentioned this in a brief comment in another series, but it really is unknown territory for Jean Beliveau. All of the following is based on Montreal's rosters via hockey-reference.com:

When Beliveau broke into the league for half a season in 1953-54, Montreal already had Ken Mosdell and an aging Elmer Lach. Henri Richard came to Montreal in 1955-56 and Mosdell was dropped down to full time checking duties again. Mosdell was replaced by Ralph Backstrom for the 1956-57 season.

For the large majority of Beliveau's career (1956-57 to 1970-71), Henri Richard and Ralph Backstrom were Montreals 2nd and 3rd line centers. For 6 years of that time frame (1957-58 to 1962-63), Phil Goyette was Montreal's 4th line center.

I think it's safe to say that in real life, Beliveau rarely saw the toughest defensive assignments on Montreal. In fact, given the defensive reputations of those other guys, Beliveau almost certainly had the least defensive role of any of Montreal's center in real life for most if not all of his career.

Beliveau was a solid defensive player, but he's a hell of a lot more than solid in the offensive zone. To the extent that there are going to be important defensive zone draws that aren't just during the last shift of the period, giving Beliveau more time in the defensive zone is less time he can see in the offensive zone.
He's pretty damn good at carrying the puck too, and he has Bathgate next to him who knows how to advance the puck and stickhandle. They will always have one of Leetch/Stapleton/Patrick behind them to help with the transition game too.


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That will work sometimes especially early in the series, but Leetch was a guy who could be forced into making mistakes in his own zone if he was physically abused. His best years in real life were with Jeff Beukeboom as his partner and bodyguard. Leetch's defensive game went in the toilet after 1997, and some people do think that losing his bodyguard was a factor (another theory is that he was getting caught up ice more often as he slowed down with age).

Sid Abel and George Armstrong were extremely physical players, and they will get the green light to "finish their checks" on Brian Leetch and Pat Stapleton to wear them down over the course of what should prove to be a long series. I thinK Beck at least will do a pretty good job of protecting Stapleton, but he still can't stop him from being hit all the time.
I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility they can pick up dump ins with some speed and give Armstrong a tough time hitting them.

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I do think Pittsburgh has a more potent top line than NJ's.

But I don't see an advantage in offense from the blue line for Pittsburgh.

Paul Coffey is a significantly better offensive player than Brian Leetch. We've all seen the VsX tables, but looking at their top 10 points finishes really drives the point home:

Paul Coffey: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 9th
Brian Leetch: 9th

Finishing top 10 in points by a defenseman is extremely rare, and Leetch is in truly elite company just by doing it once. But Paul Coffey did it 6 times. And it wasn't all playing with Gretzky and Lemieux - he led the Red Wings in scoring when he was 6th overall in 1994-95, and Mario Lemieux missed 21 games when Coffey was 9th in overall scoring in 1989-90.

Sure, Kasatonov is a better offensive player than Bill White, but I really would need some convincing that it makes up the gap between Coffey and Leetch. Plus, I think that if you are the partner of a puck rusher who takes lots of chances like those two, you're going to be spending a lot of time staying back.

NJ's second pairing is something of a shutdown pairing, something I really thought I needed with Paul Coffey on the first pairing. I really am struggling with figuring out how good Lloyd Cook was offensively. Dreakmur posted here that according to his consolidation study (which involves a lot of guesswork, but it's educated guesswork) that Cook's offensive peak comes out as 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd among all defensemen among the three leagues, which is excellent. I don't think the numbers are concrete enough to actually compare to modern NHL scoring, but they do show that Cook put up some very good numbers in his day. I do know that Cook peaked at 3rd overall in PCHA scoring - 3rd among all players, not just defensemen in 1922-23, and there were still some good players in the PCHA that year. I doubt Cook is as good offensively as Pat Stapleton, but I think his offense is probably similar to Frank Patrick.

Tom Johnson is another guy whose offensive upside is hard to figure out, but for a different reason. The year that Harvey was injured and Johnson won the Norris with a more offensive role, he did finish 2nd to Bill Gadsby in scoring among defensemen. So he definitely has offensive upside, even if he didn't get a chance to show it consistently.
I don't follow, how does Coffey > Leetch, Cook = Patrick, Kasatonov >? White, Johnson ??? no one, give New Jersey better offense from the backend?

Yes Coffey is best and ahead of Leetch who is great himself. After that, it's not close. Cook is your next best puckmover and you're comparing him to my third best one. Patrick can match Cook's 3rd overall in scoring, I think he's better offensively than Cook but they're definitely close.

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Originally Posted by jarek
- Top-10 in PCHA scoring 4 times (2nd, 4th, 6th, 10th)
- 2nd in defense scoring in 1908 ECAHA and 1910 NHA
- PCHA defense scoring leader all 4 full PCHA seasons he played (1912, 1913, 1914, 1917)
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Originally Posted by jarek
And some fun with numbers:

Patrick played 4 full PCHA seasons and led all defensemen in points each time. He also played 19 more games as required over 5 other seasons as he focused on administrative duties.

PCHA all-time defense points-per-game leaders, min. 80 GP

Name GP Pts PPG
Frank Patrick 87 101 1.16
Lester Patrick 142 127 0.89
Lloyd Cook 223 166 0.74
Art Duncan 159 102 0.64
Then who is New Jersey's answer to Pat Stapleton, who is better than Patrick? It isn't Cook, Bergman and Young weren't that good at moving the puck.

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Defensemen Scoring Placements: 2nd (1969), 3rd (1966), 4th (1968), 4th (1970), 4th (1971), 5th (1967), 9th (1972), 21th (1973)
Defensemen VS#2 Scores: 100 (1969), 97 (1966), 95 (1970), 88 (1968), 83 (1967), 81 (1971), 72 (1972), 57 (1973)
Lastly you have Tom Johnson, who you argue is better offensively than his points show due to his team. I can buy that, but how does it make him close to Beck/Kasatonov?

Beck: 7th in scoring behind Potvin, Park, Salming, Greschner, Robinson, Turnbull in 1978 (breaks Potvin's rookie scoring record for defenseman); 20th in scoring in 1979, T4th in scoring behind Robinson, Salming, and Larson in 1980

Kasatonov Soviet League Defensemen Scoring: 1 ('83), 1 ('85), 2 ('84), 2 ('87), 2 ('82), 3 ('89), 4 ('81), 4 ('86)

WC placements 1983: 6th in overall scoring, 4th in team scoring, 1st in defensemen scoring (1 point ahead of Fetisov)
1985: 5th in overall scoring, 4th in team scoring, 2nd in defensemen scoring (2 points behind Fetisov)
1986: 24th in overall scoring, 6th in team scoring, 3rd in defensemen scoring (8 points behind Fetisov)
1987: 16th in overall scoring, 6th in team scoring, 3rd in defensemen scoring (2 points behind Fetisov)
1991: 32nd in overall scoring, 8th in team scoring, 2nd in defensemen scoring (1 point behind Lumme)

Olympic
Overall: 14, 20, 31
Team: 5, 4, 11
Defenseman: 4, 2, 3

Canada Cup
Overall: 5, 15, 17
Team: 1, 3, 9
Defenseman: 1, 2, 5

After all that, I'm not sure how offensive from the backend isn't a clear advantage Pittsburgh after Coffey. If we rank in order of best on team,

Coffey > Leetch
Cooke < Stapleton
Johnson < Patrick
Bergman/Young < Kasatonov/Beck
Bergman/Young < Kasatonov/Beck
White >(?) Mitchell

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05-08-2013, 07:01 PM
  #24
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True. When Bathgate got pissed off, he wrote newspaper articles calling out other players, he didn't retaliate on the ice.
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Bathgate hated the Habs - I know in his famous article about violence in hockey, he called out Tom Johnson and Doug Harvey as two of the worst offenders of dirty stickwork.
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
I believe it was Red Sullivan's burst spleen and near death on the ice after a Doug Harvey spear that specifically motivated Bathgate to write the article.
Yep, I watched this in the Pioneers of Hockey interview with Bathgate. He was in the hospital with his wife, and Sullivan's wife and the doctor told them that they thought they lost Red. This obviously upset Bathgate and he explained that he thought someone who had some starpower needed to write the article to bring attention to the issue of spearing.

He has plenty of quotes calling him tough, writing a piece about a dirty play that almost killed his teammate doesn't have any bearing on that.


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05-08-2013, 07:17 PM
  #25
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Coffey > Leetch
Cooke < Stapleton
Johnson < Patrick
Bergman/Young < Kasatonov/Beck
Bergman/Young < Kasatonov/Beck
White >(?) Mitchell
The problem with these sort of comparisons is that it doesn't take into account how far ahead Coffey is...

I'll hazard a guess and say that, for example, Coffey has more top 10s in points than your whole core combined.

By vsX Coffey is probably better than the second line forwards in this offensively..

And in the playoffs he raised his game defensively and physically as well.

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