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Jim Coleman Conference Finals: Pittsburgh AC vs. Philadelphia Flyers

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Old
05-05-2015, 02:16 AM
  #1
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Jim Coleman Conference Finals: Pittsburgh AC vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Athletic Club

Coach: Anatoli Tarasov
Assistant Coach: Billy Reay

Paul Kariya-Gordie Howe
Ebbie Goodfellow-Ted Kennedy(C)
Dit Clapper(A)

Darryl Sittler (A)-Dany Heatley
Glen Harmon-Dave Taylor
Herb Gardiner

Veniamin Alexandrov-Vladimir Vikulov
Pit Lepine-Lennart Svedberg
Rod Seiling

Kelly Miller-Ryan Kesler-Ron Stewart

Johnny Bower
Roberto Luongo

Spares: Mike Green, Johnny Gagnon, Paul Shmyr

PP1: Heatley-Sittler-Howe-Kariya-Clapper
PP2: Alexandrov-Kennedy-Vikulov-Svedberg-Goodfellow

PK1: Kesler-Miller-Gardiner-Seiling
PK2: Howe-Kennedy-Goodfellow-Clapper
PK3: Lepine-Stewart

Estimated Minutes:

Forward ES PP PK total
Gordie Howe164222
Paul Kariya164020
Ted Kennedy163221
Darryl Sittler144018
Dany Heatley144018
Pit Lepine140216
Vladimir Vikulov143017
Veniamin Alexandrov143017
Dave Taylor140014
Ryan Kesler3036
Ron Stewart3025
Kelly Miller0033
Total 138 25 14 177

DefenseESPPPKTotal
Dit Clapper174324
Ebbie Goodfellow173323
Herb Gardiner150419
Rod Seiling140418
Lennart Svedberg143017
Glen Harmon150015
Totals921014116

Vs.



PP1
Paul Thompson-Bill Cowley-Camille Henry
Doug Harvey-Pat Stapleton

PP2
Lynn Patrick-Henri Richard-Larry Aurie
JC Tremblay-Steve Duchesne

PK1
Troy Murray-Larry Aurie
Doug Harvey-JC Tremblay

PK2
Dave Balon-Henri Richard
Lloyd Cook-Pat Stapleton

PK3
Don McKenney-Jimmy Ward
Doug Harvey-Bobby Rowe


Last edited by Sturminator: 05-11-2015 at 03:56 PM.
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05-05-2015, 09:26 AM
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Harvey vs Howe will be interesting. I'm looking forward to this final.

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05-05-2015, 11:03 AM
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RS, you've kind of done this before, but with a very unique team in the final 4, can you please give a good description of Tarasov's unique system and how you see your team fitting in? Feel free to copy and paste if you've posted this before.

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05-05-2015, 12:11 PM
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RS, you've kind of done this before, but with a very unique team in the final 4, can you please give a good description of Tarasov's unique system and how you see your team fitting in? Feel free to copy and paste if you've posted this before.
What is. It's concerning g to me is that this system was replaced and has never been used since. Tarasov saw that it needed to be changed and developed a new system, and the next one was more successful.

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05-05-2015, 12:39 PM
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What is. It's concerning g to me is that this system was replaced and has never been used since. Tarasov saw that it needed to be changed and developed a new system, and the next one was more successful.
What are you talking about? "The system" was still being used in the very last tournament Tarasov coached for the national team, that being the 1972 Olympics for which Firsov famously converted to the midfield. You mean it was replaced by other coaches? Like the ones who immediately suffered defeat in the first major international tournament the Soviet Union had lost in a decade as soon as Tarasov/Chernyshev were let go (that being the 1972 WEC-A tournament, which the Soviets lost to the Czechs)?

Elements of Tarasov's system have become a part of the tactical DNA of modern hockey. His system is everywhere. Every time you watch Pavel Datsyuk troll around the neutral zone picking off passes or Erik Karlsson play like some sort of weird defenseman/forward hybrid, you are witnessing "the system" in action, much as you frequently witness Tommy Gorman's "forechecking" innovation or Art Ross' "power play".

Like every tactical innovation in hockey, Tarasov's system as it was in the 1960's must surely have eventually become outdated, but what of it? The game moves on. Why the ATD has persistently punished Tarasov under some sort of demented assumption that every coach in hockey history could adapt to the modern game but him is a mystery to me, and I'm a little shocked to see you selling this empty narrative, Dreak.

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05-05-2015, 12:48 PM
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What are you talking about? "The system" was still being used in the very last tournament Tarasov coached for the national team, that being the 1972 Olympics for which Firsov famously converted to the midfield. You mean it was replaced by other coaches? Like the ones who immediately suffered defeat in the first major international tournament the Soviet Union had lost in a decade as soon as Tarasov/Chernyshev were let go (that being the 1972 WEC-A tournament, which the Soviets lost to the Czechs)?

Elements of Tarasov's system have become a part of the tactical DNA of modern hockey. His system is everywhere. Every time you watch Pavel Datsyuk troll around the neutral zone picking off passes or Erik Karlsson play like some sort of weird defenseman/forward hybrid, you are witnessing "the system" in action, much as you frequently witness Tommy Gorman's "forechecking" innovation or Art Ross' "power play".

Like every tactical innovation in hockey, Tarasov's system as it was in the 1960's must surely have eventually become outdated, but what of it? The game moves on. Why the ATD has persistently punished Tarasov under some sort of demented assumption that every coach in hockey history could adapt to the modern game but him is a mystery to me, and I'm a little shocked to see you selling this empty narrative, Dreak.
Tarasov would adapt to the modern game, and that means he wouldn't use a system that no longer works.

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05-05-2015, 01:06 PM
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Tarasov would adapt to the modern game, and that means he wouldn't use a system that no longer works.
Interestingly, it is worth mentioning that the Swedes reintroduced the system to international hockey about a decade ago, renamed it "Torpedo", and had a good amount of success with it. It was generally considered to be unworkable in the NHL at that point because of the existence of the red line and the two line pass...which are no longer a part of the NHL rules.

"The System" relied on very quick movement of the puck up ice to the forwards after a turnover (which the midfielders hunted actively), and yeah...in a league with a red line, I think it might run into problems. We're not, however, talking about such a league in this case.

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05-05-2015, 01:10 PM
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Interestingly, it is worth mentioning that the Swedes reintroduced the system to international hockey about a decade ago, renamed it "Torpedo", and had a good amount of success with it. It was generally considered to be unworkable in the NHL at that point because of the existence of the red line and the two line pass...which are no longer a part of the NHL rules.
Yeah this idea that systems work for a while and then are supplanted for ever more is nuts. There are only so many permutations.

What happens is that once a counter is found to a particular style of play it falls out of style. Time tends to march on and eventually you'll sometimes find that the system that was supposedly no longer working is actually a good counter to exploit the new popular system. Rinse and repeat.

Rule changes can speed up both sides of this coin, obviously. But hockey is hockey.

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05-05-2015, 01:15 PM
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I thought that Tarasov was never fully able to implement his system at the National Team level, because Chernyshev wouldn't let him. Did he finally get to do it in 1972 right before they were both fired for political reasons?

Anyway, I would like a more detailed description of this 2-2-1 and how RS sees his players fitting into the system.

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05-05-2015, 01:26 PM
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Looks like it'll be another matchup of defense and goaltending against offense. Good luck RS.

This is very random, but on just a cursory look, does Ted Kennedy make sense as a midfielder? He was obviously a great two-way player, but wasn't he a poor skater? I feel like being a strong skater is just as important a role as being responsible both ways when talking about a midfielder that will be all over the ice. Maybe I'm misinterpreting the midfielder role wrong, I'm thinking of it in a lacrosse/soccer sense.

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05-05-2015, 01:39 PM
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Anyway, I would like a more detailed description of this 2-2-1 and how RS sees his players fitting into the system.
Yeah I'm working on it, but won't have it until later today probably.

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This is very random, but on just a cursory look, does Ted Kennedy make sense as a midfielder? He was obviously a great two-way player, but wasn't he a poor skater? I feel like being a strong skater is just as important a role as being responsible both ways when talking about a midfielder that will be all over the ice. Maybe I'm misinterpreting the midfielder role wrong, I'm thinking of it in a lacrosse/soccer sense.
I don't think so, centers in hockey play the most like midfielders. They have the largest defensive responsibility of the forwards and play deepest in their own end. Teeder managed those and his offensive responsibilities fine despite his ugly stride. Trail also has this quote on his skating:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol.3
But beside his plodding skating style, he managed to get from point A to point B as well as any and better than most.

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05-05-2015, 01:44 PM
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Actually, I could post what I have on the sweepers I guess. I started this as a mega-post but can't finish it yet, and it's probably easier to read broken up.

The 1-2-2 contains a set of forwards, a set of midfielders, and a libero or sweeper. A sweeper is a position from soccer and their job is to sit behind the other defenders cleaning up any loose balls or meeting any ball-carrier who breaks through the defense.

Converting this to hockey, I think of a point (position) in the early game. He lined up behind the coverpoint with a rover and then center in front. Points were mostly defensive-defenseman who would meet the puck carriers that broke through their teammates ahead. They’d also be the furthest player back when came to picking up lifted (iced) pucks and had a limited role when his team would be in possession.

Clapper, Gardiner, and Seiling all fit this mold. I’ll get to Clapper last because he has an offensive game the others don’t.

Gardiner – “The 5-foot-10, 190-pound blue-liner was one of the bigger men in the game and among the strongest. Playing in an era that featured a far more brutal form of play than is accepted today, Gardiner was in his element when the going got rough.”, referred to as a stalwart, called a foxy defender twice and praised for breaking up countless rushes in one game.

Seiling – Praised for his defensive game, your classic boring, yet reliable stay-at-home type, called one of the NHL’s top defensemen at playing the man and clearing the puck in 1975, called intelligent and said not to rattle, his underrated first pass was news to me.

If you read the link I posted above you’ll see that some sweepers played a more offensive style. This was rarer in soccer as you need to be much more skilled and have the speed and intelligence to pull it off. I believe Clapper is that rare bird.

Clapper-massive for his day at 6'2", 195, strong defensively and blocking shots, praised for his work sweeping away rebounds, forward early in his career noted for his rushing, goalscoring, and defensive awareness; some articles praised him as an elite two-way defender comparable to Seibert, others praised him as being a steady guy who could cover for a rushing partner, called by Frank Boucher the "the greatest ice general" he ever saw.

The Clapper bit is mostly copied from an earlier thread, but the focus here is on each player’s individual skillset, rather than how good they were which we’ll compare later. Each player fits the mold of a sweeper and Clapper is talented enough to be one of those sweepers who pushes the bounds of what the position entails.

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05-05-2015, 02:25 PM
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I think that Trail quote is mainly about Ted Kennedy's tendency to skate through players, rather than around them - basically, skating in a straight line through someone slowly gets you there as fast as skating swiftly around them.

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05-05-2015, 02:45 PM
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Yeah this idea that systems work for a while and then are supplanted for ever more is nuts. There are only so many permutations.

What happens is that once a counter is found to a particular style of play it falls out of style. Time tends to march on and eventually you'll sometimes find that the system that was supposedly no longer working is actually a good counter to exploit the new popular system. Rinse and repeat.

Rule changes can speed up both sides of this coin, obviously. But hockey is hockey.
Have to agree with that.A system cannot be beaten per say, you can only find an optimal counter-strategy to exploit the weaknesses of any given system, but the execution of both the system and the counter-strategy is dependent on the quality of players you have and how well they play under their respective system.

With all of that in mind, I can't say "a hockey system has been solved and is therefore useless form now on".

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05-05-2015, 02:56 PM
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I thought that Tarasov was never fully able to implement his system at the National Team level, because Chernyshev wouldn't let him. Did he finally get to do it in 1972 right before they were both fired for political reasons?
I see you didn't follow the Soviet hockey thread convo closely. Theokritos found a quote which indicated that it was most likely first introduced in international play at the 1967 WEC-A tournament. It's in that thread.

By 1972, the lion's share of Soviet national team players had been essentially raised on "the system", having come up through CSKA, where it was almost certainly in place for at least a season or two before it was implemented at the national team level. I don't know what nominal system Bobrov put in place (or didn't...he apparently wasn't much of an X's-and-O's guy), but Tarasov's fingerprints are obviously all over that Summit Series team, much as Toe Blake's fingerprints were all over the 1969 champion Habs (it sure as hell wasn't Claude Ruel who made that team what it was).

It's also worth noting that Boris Kulagin, who took over the Soviet national team in 1974 after only two years of Bobrov, had been Tarasov's disciple at CSKA during the 1960's. As far as I can tell, Dreak's assertion that "the system" was summarily discarded after Tarasov's dismissal is misguided.

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05-05-2015, 08:02 PM
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Midfielders are pretty straight forward. We basically have them already with two-way forwards who serve as the F3 in the offensive zone for their line. Also with two-way defenders who like to rush the puck and have a large role in the neutral and offensive zones.

Remember the Soviets asked that Ivanov be named the Best Forward at the 1964 Olympics so Tarasov seemed to have plenty of appreciation for an offensively aggressive player who we'd consider a defenseman.

Maintaining this balance of a forward and defender seemed the best way to fill out these midfield slots. Here's why I think my six choices work: (apologies for the info dump, but I think it's the best way to explain why some of the lesser known guys work)

Goodfellow: The easiest example - a star center and defender in his career. Called one of the best all-around players during his career, good stickhandler, great shot that was repeatedly praised, very physical player.

Kennedy: Two-way center full of drive and energy. Used to match the Punch Line as a 19 years old. Called a complete center, Conn Smythe praised him for giving his full effort every shift. Also praised for his passing and stickhandling ability.

Taylor: Lots of praise for his two-way game. "was very close to being the best all-around leftwinger in the league last year," "one of the best all-around wingers in the game...stronger checker...delivers maximum effort every game...," "superior all-around player every team would like to have...excellent defensively...his sound positional play allows linemates Dionne and Simmer to ramble...," "could be prototype for complete winger...," "one of the best all-around right wings in NHL...," "Defensively Taylor is very solid, playing his man deep into the Kings' end. He is an excellent checker in all three zones."

Harmon: Two-way defender with a lot of speed and was also a good puckmover.
"Before he came up, Canadiens' big fault was getting the puck out of their own end. They don't have that trouble now, and from what I've seen Harmon has been the man to remedy that fault." (said Mowers)"
"A sound positional defenseman with the offensive skills to support his forwards, Harmon was an able skater who could carry the puck himself or relay it to teammates with his crisp, sharp passes."
"He is so fast that he can make mistakes and yet get back in time to cover up, a trait that made King Clancy great."
"They have one of the most mobile rearguards in the game in Glen Harmon, an underrated player who moves fast enough to cover up his mistakes and even those of his teammates, and if there is a defenceman in the league who can come out of his own end-zone with the puck faster than Glen, then we haven’t seen him."
"Glen is perhaps the smallest defenseman in the Dave Campbell circuit. On the other hand, he is the fastest, and certainly there is no blueliner who can start the attack as quickly as he can"

Lepine: Two-way center stuck behind Morenz. Excellent defensive player who utilized the hookcheck clogging up the ice. Also noted for his speed and stickhandling ability. Finished 10th in goals 3 times.
" Frank Finnigan rated Lepine as one of the greatest defensive forward of all-time."
" "Hooley" Smith is adept at the sweeping check, but the best in the business today is "Pit" Lepine of the Canadiens. When he sets himself out to play a straight defensive game, Lepine is almost impossible to pass.
"Capable of playing the game defensively, Lepine was fast enough to cover opposing forwards, and despite weighting 170 pounds, physically strong enough to win most battles along the boards and all over the ice."
"Defensively Lepine is the last word in hockey class."

Svedberg: Excellent skating two-way defender. Like to rush the puck but rarely went end-to-end and looked to end his rushes with a pass. Very aggressive in the neutral zone while opposition had the puck, constantly looking to jump a pass like he's a cornerback in football. Wouldn't shy from confronting the puckcarrier at the red line. Very good at jumping playing "help" defense, where Svedberg would drive-by and pick up the puck as a teammate impeded a puckcarrier with his positioning. I've posted about it a few times, but his skillset matched with Lepine's skillset makes for a good defensive base in the neutral zone for my third unit.


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05-05-2015, 11:28 PM
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Midfielders are pretty straight forward. We basically have them already with two-way forwards who serve as the F3 in the offensive zone for their line. Also with two-way defenders who like to rush the puck and have a large role in the neutral and offensive zones.
Who are those players?

If you are referring to guys like Bergeron, Kopitar, Toews, Backes, etc, those guys bring a lot of their value on the forecheck and cycling down low. They dominate because they support the puck hard, not because they hang back.

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05-06-2015, 12:47 AM
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Who are those players?

If you are referring to guys like Bergeron, Kopitar, Toews, Backes, etc, those guys bring a lot of their value on the forecheck and cycling down low. They dominate because they support the puck hard, not because they hang back.
You're misunderstanding something here. Tarasov's system was quite aggressive offensively; the midfielders were not "hanging back" on the attack. Defensively, you can think of it as a more aggressive version of the trap, with the libéro in the middle lane and the midfielders in the side lanes aggressively hunting turnovers when the defense is set. In the attack...well, I think most people associate this style of hockey with attacking, so I'm not going to waste time explaining that part.

A much better example than the ones you gave would be Pavel Datsyuk, who serves as the "high man" among the forwards on the forecheck, and defends in the neutral zone very much like a midfielder. Fedorov in his Detroit days often played this way, as well, though in time he morphed into more of an up-and-down backchecker in the NHL style. Niklas Sundstrom is another modern forward in this mold. That I name three Europeans here is not a coincidence, and speaks to the persistence of Tarasov's defensive philosophy outside of North America.

Obviously one of the midfielders is going to go play a forward role on the cycle. I'm not sure what Rob has planned in that sense, but it's a safe bet to assume that this role will be filled by the midfielders who are nominal forwards. It's not nearly as alien a system as you're making it out to be, Dreak.

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05-06-2015, 12:53 AM
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You're misunderstanding something here. Tarasov's system was quite aggressive offensively; the midfielders were not "hanging back" on the attack. Defensively, you can think of it as a more aggressive version of the trap, with the libéro in the middle lane and the midfielders in the side lanes aggressively hunting turnovers when the defense is set. In the attack...well, I think most people associate this style of hockey with attacking, so I'm not going to waste time explaining that part.

A much better example than the ones you gave would be Pavel Datsyuk, who serves as the "high man" among the forwards on the forecheck, and defends in the neutral zone very much like a midfielder. Fedorov in his Detroit days often played this way, as well, though in time he morphed into more of an up-and-down backchecker in the NHL style. Niklas Sundstrom is another modern forward in this mold. That I name three Europeans here is not a coincidence, and speaks to the persistence of Tarasov's defensive philosophy outside of North America.

Obviously one of the midfielders is going to go play a forward role on the cycle. I'm not sure what Rob has planned in that sense, but it's a safe bet to assume that this role will be filled by the midfielders who are nominal forwards. It's not nearly as alien a system as you're making it out to be, Dreak.
I have more of an issue with the 5 man units than the system itself, though I do not like the system at all. I agree with a lot of the things that evolved from this system - defence joining the attack, forwards staying out high - but assigning it to particular players is foolish.

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05-06-2015, 12:55 AM
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I have more of an issue with the 5 man units than the system itself, though I do not like the system at all.
Fascinating. You know that five man units were still deployed very successfully by Soviet teams almost twenty years after Tarasov got the boot, right?

edit: it's also worth nothing that Pittsburgh's personnel fit into the classic LW - C - RW - D - D scheme just fine. We have to assume that, like all coaches, Tarasov would be using a modernized version of his tactical scheme in the ATD. I don't see any reason to believe that this team lacks the flexibility to do that.


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05-06-2015, 01:17 AM
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Fascinating. You know that five man units were still deployed very successfully by Soviet teams more than twenty years after Tarasov got the boot, right?

edit: it's also worth nothing that Pittsburgh's personnel fit into the classic LW - C - RW - D - D scheme just fine. We have to assume that, like all coaches, Tarasov would be using a modernized version of his tactical scheme in the ATD. I don't see any reason to believe that this team lacks the flexibility to do that.
Yes, Tarasov, being a smart coach, would deploy his unit in something other than his soccer formation, and not in 5 man units.

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05-06-2015, 01:32 AM
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Yes, Tarasov, being a smart coach, would deploy his unit in something other than his soccer formation, and not in 5 man units.
While I agree with you that Tarasov's scheme would look different than it did in the 1960's, your argument against 5-man units to this point amounts to "reasons".

You realize that Scotty Bowman put together a 5-man unit and won back-to-back Cups with it in 1997 and 1998, right? Has hockey undergone some fundamental transformation since that time which would render the strategy ineffective?


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05-06-2015, 04:40 AM
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This matchup seems to be in many ways a replay of the Pittsburgh/Belfast series of the last round, with the AC pitted against a team that is built from the back out, and is weak at forward. Philly has a stronger #1D than Belfast had, and a weaker goalie, but otherwise the teams are extremely similar.

As it was last round, I'd expect Pittsburgh to win the 1st and 3rd/4th unit matchups, while Philly should win the matchup of 2nd units. It's hard to imagine either team throwing an especially effective checking scheme at the other, and I imagine they'll probably just slug it out most of the time, power-on-power.

Brodeur vs. Bower is an obvious win for Philly, though one of Brodeur's biggest strengths (his puckhandling) is largely irrelevant against a team that will play a puck control system and dump it in probably less than any franchise in the draft.

Coaching is an obvious win for Pittsburgh.

The seemingly central matchup of this series is Harvey vs. Howe. Here is Howe's playoff scoring vs. Harvey's Habs in real life:

YearGAPGP
1949 819 7
1951 336 6
1952 213 4
1954 123 7
1955 5712 7
1956 156 5
1958 112 4
Total21204140

Ultimately, the numbers don't seem to tell us much. Gordie scored basically right at his career playoff PPG average against Harvey's Habs, and had an even goal/assist ratio, as well. It seems that Doug Harvey was neither especially effective nor ineffective against Gordie when they met in the postseason.

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05-06-2015, 05:55 AM
  #24
jarek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
This matchup seems to be in many ways a replay of the Pittsburgh/Belfast series of the last round, with the AC pitted against a team that is built from the back out, and is weak at forward. Philly has a stronger #1D than Belfast had, and a weaker goalie, but otherwise the teams are extremely similar.

As it was last round, I'd expect Pittsburgh to win the 1st and 3rd/4th unit matchups, while Philly should win the matchup of 2nd units. It's hard to imagine either team throwing an especially effective checking scheme at the other, and I imagine they'll probably just slug it out most of the time, power-on-power.

Brodeur vs. Bower is an obvious win for Philly, though one of Brodeur's biggest strengths (his puckhandling) is largely irrelevant against a team that will play a puck control system and dump it in probably less than any franchise in the draft.

Coaching is an obvious win for Pittsburgh.

The seemingly central matchup of this series is Harvey vs. Howe. Here is Howe's playoff scoring vs. Harvey's Habs in real life:

YearGAPGP
1949 819 7
1951 336 6
1952 213 4
1954 123 7
1955 5712 7
1956 156 5
1958 112 4
Total21204140

Ultimately, the numbers don't seem to tell us much. Gordie scored basically right at his career playoff PPG average against Harvey's Habs, and had an even goal/assist ratio, as well. It seems that Doug Harvey was neither especially effective nor ineffective against Gordie when they met in the postseason.
If they were matched up against each other at all.

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05-06-2015, 07:22 AM
  #25
Sturminator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarek View Post
If they were matched up against each other at all.
Right. Player vs. team numbers don't tell us anything about matchups, and I've never seen any specific information about Harvey vs. Howe. At any rate, Gordie's real-life postseason production against Harvey's Habs teams doesn't move the needle in terms of his expected performance here, as far as I can tell. He was dead on his career averages.

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