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Who needs top 6 centers when your top 6 wingers can run the offense

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Old
02-11-2011, 05:10 PM
  #1
joshjull
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Who needs top 6 centers when your top 6 wingers can run the offense

With Connolly playing banged up and occassionally out of the lineup. I think its safe to assert we haven't had a top 6 offensive center in the lineup since Roy went down.

As a result our offense has become a winger driven one.

Since Roy went down

Wingers
Vanek ------> 18gms 9g 14a 23pts (1.3 ppg)
Pommer ----> 18gms 6g 12a 18pts (1.0 ppg)
Stafford ----> 15gms 11g 5a 16pts (1.1 ppg)
Ennis -------> 18gms 3g 9a 12pts (.67 ppg)
Gerbe ------> 14gms 5g 4a 9pts (.64 ppg)

Centers
Hecht -----> 18gms 5g 6a 11pts (.61 ppg)
Connolly ---> 14gms 2g 6a 8pts (.57 ppg)
Goose -----> 18gms 4g 4a 8pts (.44 ppg)



We've had 3 ppg or better wingers in this stretch, two on one line (Vanek/Pommer)

All 5 of those wingers are out producing our centers


Is it a bad thing that we've become a winger driven offense? Before this stretch many would argue it would be(myself included). Since we were clamoring for more centers, another top 6 center in particular.


Our offense has taken off due to the top 6 wingers carrying their respective lines. The centers' role has morphed into one in which they are asked to be defensively responsible support players as opposed to being the engines that create the offense on ther line.

Its an interesting dynamic. Its completely counter to the idea many of us had that another top 6 offensive center was need to release the offensive potential of this lineup. In fact the opposite has occured. Our offense took off after we removed the one reliable top 6 center we had.


Thoughts.


Last edited by joshjull: 02-11-2011 at 05:17 PM.
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02-11-2011, 05:19 PM
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I think a center needs to do certain things, but the offense doesn't need to be run through them.

Size, obviously, is good, but mostly because it helps at the faceoff dot and in the defensive zone. A center needs to play a solid two-way game. To me, that's really the only requirement.

Offensively, depending on the system, there's not really a set role for forwards based on position.

Any one of the forwards can crash the net & forecheck, or sit on the half-wall and try to set up players or get open, so long as they're in position to get back defensively.

The way our wingers have been playing, a #1 center isn't a big need, at least not offensively. Right now, I'd take a solid, two-way guy (man, I wish we grabbed Fisher--but not for that price) quicker than I'd go after an offensively dynamic center.

The real question is whether or not our wingers can keep up their current pace.

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02-11-2011, 06:24 PM
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As strange as this sounds, I think having our D stabilize has a lot to do with our forwards being able to take a little more risk. The coaches finally feel comfortable with the mix they have on the blue line, and that's allowed the forwards some room.

Also, the PP has been hot, which may skew the numbers a bit.

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02-11-2011, 06:50 PM
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Weak center play was their undoing last year in the playoffs when most of their offensive wingers couldn't succeed in the face of good goaltending and a solid defensive system. They can't afford to have talent inequity down the middle. The wingers are compensating right now but that doesn't mean they can ignore a weakness.

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02-11-2011, 07:01 PM
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I'm trying to think of the last Cup winner that was carried by their wing depth as opposed to goaltending, defense, or center depth.

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02-11-2011, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeGiftingMan View Post
I'm trying to think of the last Cup winner that was carried by their wing depth as opposed to goaltending, defense, or center depth.
Find me a more than one Cup winner in the last 30 years who don't have a couple of dynamic centers be it offensive or defensive.

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02-11-2011, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chainshot View Post
Find me a more than one Cup winner in the last 30 years who don't have a couple of dynamic centers be it offensive or defensive.
Even the ****icanes had Staal and Ugly.

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02-11-2011, 07:40 PM
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Even the ****icanes had Staal and Ugly.
Not just Staal and Brindy, but an effective Matt Cullen.

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02-11-2011, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chainshot View Post
Find me a more than one Cup winner in the last 30 years who don't have a couple of dynamic centers be it offensive or defensive.
Devils?

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02-11-2011, 08:21 PM
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joshjull
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I'm not suggesting we don't need centers. Or that we shouldn't try and upgrade the center position.


I just found it interesting how our offense has evolved in the last several weeks since Roy's injury. Its almost counterintuitive.


Last edited by joshjull: 02-11-2011 at 08:29 PM.
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02-11-2011, 08:28 PM
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Stating the obvious, but if the Sabres do make the playoffs, it would be simply awesome if Roy was able to return for the playoffs. As said in a separate thread on (erroneous) speculation he would return for the playoffs, I put the chance of that as <1%.

To joshjulls OP, be interesing to see how PIT and BUF fair the last 8 weeks of the season - who will garner more % of points since their #1s went down, and #2s went down (Malkin) or were hobbled (Tinman).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Schadenfreude
Devils?
Thier first Cup in the lockout year? I'll maybe grant that, although an acquired Broten, with Carpenter and a very young Holik aren't much to sneeze at. I think it should be conceded high-level 2-deep center talent is needed to win...


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02-11-2011, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Its almost counterintuitive.
I think Roy is counter intuitive on the power play which is a lot of it.

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02-11-2011, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schadenfreude View Post
Devils?
Yeah, in '95 they have the "weakest" collection of centers with Neal Broten, Bobby Holik as the primaries. The 2000 team had Selke-level Madden, dominant Holik, 70-point Gomez, a rising Arnott, and even Sykora a bit, 2003 was Gomez, Niewendyk, and Madden as 1-3. They had depth and very good checking centers.

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02-11-2011, 09:02 PM
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joshjull
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moskau View Post
I think Roy is counter intuitive on the power play which is a lot of it.
Actually much of the offensive upsurge has been at ES.

-Pommer has 14 of his 18pts at ES
-Stafford has 8g 10pts at ES of his 11g 16pts
-Vanek has 14 of his 23pts at ES.
-Hecht has 10 of 11pts at ES
-Gerbe has 7 of 9pts at ES





I've mentioned this before but the PP was already going good before Roy was injured. It started clicking after Roy was put on the point.

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02-11-2011, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schadenfreude View Post
Devils?
Quote:
Originally Posted by brian_griffin View Post
Stating the obvious, but if the Sabres do make the playoffs, it would be simply awesome if Roy was able to return for the playoffs. As said in a separate thread on (erroneous) speculation he would return for the playoffs, I put the chance of that as <1%.

To joshjulls OP, be interesing to see how PIT and BUF fair the last 8 weeks of the season - who will garner more % of points since their #1s went down, and #2s went down (Malkin) or were hobbled (Tinman).

Thier first Cup in the lockout year? I'll maybe grant that, although an acquired Broten, with Carpenter and a very young Holik aren't much to sneeze at. I think it should be conceded high-level 2-deep center talent is needed to win...
1995 - Broten, Holik, Carpenter
2000 - Arnott, Gomez, Holik
2003 - Gomez, Niewendyk, Madden

Not too shabby....Broten had 28 points in 30 regular season games and 19 points in 20 playoff games, dont underrate his play in that run.

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02-11-2011, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Chainshot View Post
Find me a more than one Cup winner in the last 30 years who don't have a couple of dynamic centers be it offensive or defensive.
The other question is, do you really need a couple of dynamic centers to advance a round or two in the playoffs?

Considering that before the new year many (including myself) had written this team off after Roy's injury, it's quite ironic as JJ points out to find the team playing the best hockey of the season on the backs of a 4th line center, converted winger, and a bruised up playmaker.

Then again, the last Sabres team to advance to the cup finals didn't have much down the middle either until a couple of deals at the deadline brought in Juneau and Barnes, which, while solid, were anything but dynamic.

Bottom line, the turnaround can be attributed to a number of factors. Losing Roy is not one of them, and it's silly to think otherwise.

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02-11-2011, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by schadenfreude View Post
Devils?
They didn't have any stand-out star centers, but their depth down the middle was among the top in the league. Nieuwendyk, Gomez and Madden was a solid top 3 at the time.

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02-11-2011, 11:47 PM
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In 1995, their centers were Neal Broten, Bobby Carpenter, Jim Dowd, and Bobby Holik.

Although they won because of their defense/goaltending/coaching.


Last edited by Pengo: 02-11-2011 at 11:56 PM.
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02-11-2011, 11:55 PM
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I think it's being looked at in the wrong sense.

Our offense, over the course of the season, seems to produce the same amount of goals with or without Roy in the lineup. There's not a fluctuation in team total, we're just seeing production from the same 3-5 people as opposed to one guy plus added production from a random lesser roster player.

It's very...intriguing...that we're winning games without a productive center in the top-6. But the need still remains IMO - get some more productivity offensively down the middle. It still needs to be addressed. I don't think the addition of another body in the middle would hurt the team. I'd just hope for continued capturing of "lightning in a bottle" with TV and Contractfford.

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02-12-2011, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slip View Post
The other question is, do you really need a couple of dynamic centers to advance a round or two in the playoffs?

Considering that before the new year many (including myself) had written this team off after Roy's injury, it's quite ironic as JJ points out to find the team playing the best hockey of the season on the backs of a 4th line center, converted winger, and a bruised up playmaker.

Then again, the last Sabres team to advance to the cup finals didn't have much down the middle either until a couple of deals at the deadline brought in Juneau and Barnes, which, while solid, were anything but dynamic.

Bottom line, the turnaround can be attributed to a number of factors. Losing Roy is not one of them, and it's silly to think otherwise.

Considering the Cup win is the goal, why settle for just a round or two?

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02-12-2011, 08:56 AM
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am i the only one who thinks the sabres change of fortune has less to do with the current roster and more to do with the upcoming change of ownership?

remember the pens of a few years ago with therrien? they're outside the playoff picture with just a couple months left to go in the season, bylsma gets put behind the bench, and the team magically turns things around. granted we're talking about a change of owner here and not a change of coach, but if we're aware of the lack of commitment on behalf of ownership, the players definitely are as well. i could see how that could have a resounding effect on the outlook of the players.

i'm not saying this is what triggered the turnaround...sustained would be a better word...nor am i saying that the guys are all in rose-colored glasses, thinking daddy pegula is gonna make everything better. i think the guys are astutely aware that they're playing for the jobs. think of it as the entire team being in a contract year.

they're overachieving right now, but i highly doubt they'll be able to maintain this level of play down the stretch. getting rid of connolly would help. so would bringing in another center. fact of the matter is, this team needs a lot of work.

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02-12-2011, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chainshot View Post
Not just Staal and Brindy, but an effective Matt Cullen.
Who was the difference in that series. With Connolly out (thanks Peter "Flying Elbow" Schaefer!) we had a mismatch at center. Don't forget the depth that Doug Weight brought as well.

Ta,

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02-12-2011, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chainshot View Post
Considering the Cup win is the goal, why settle for just a round or two?
I was thinking that in the context of this year, making the playoffs and wining a round or perhaps two (long shot, I know) in spite of our pivot issues would be a major moral victory for the organization.

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02-12-2011, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boots electric View Post
am i the only one who thinks the sabres change of fortune has less to do with the current roster and more to do with the upcoming change of ownership?

remember the pens of a few years ago with therrien? they're outside the playoff picture with just a couple months left to go in the season, bylsma gets put behind the bench, and the team magically turns things around. granted we're talking about a change of owner here and not a change of coach, but if we're aware of the lack of commitment on behalf of ownership, the players definitely are as well. i could see how that could have a resounding effect on the outlook of the players.

i'm not saying this is what triggered the turnaround...sustained would be a better word...nor am i saying that the guys are all in rose-colored glasses, thinking daddy pegula is gonna make everything better. i think the guys are astutely aware that they're playing for the jobs. think of it as the entire team being in a contract year.

they're overachieving right now, but i highly doubt they'll be able to maintain this level of play down the stretch. getting rid of connolly would help. so would bringing in another center. fact of the matter is, this team needs a lot of work.
100% agree. I's sure the mojo at the Sabres' offices, and throughout the entire organization is feeling excited about the future. It has to be making the players feel good.

Also, for the first time in memory, someone comes right and says "short" list....yeah, i think they feel it.

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02-12-2011, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by slip View Post
I was thinking that in the context of this year, making the playoffs and wining a round or perhaps two (long shot, I know) in spite of our pivot issues would be a major moral victory for the organization.
True. And it could be used as a sales point if they decided to go fishing for some new talent over the summer.

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