I guess papershoes really isn't coming around to discuss this series. Which is kinda the story of the draft for him. The reason this is a 4th place team isn't necessarily that he drafted badly - he actually drafted pretty well. It was that he missed consecutive picks on a few occasions and ultimately crippled his depth as a result.
He's got a lot to like on this Kenora roster:
- Eddie Shore as a #1 defenseman.
- Dave Keon as a #2 center.
- 3/4 of an all-time legendary PK1 unit
- 3/4 of an all-time legendary PK2 unit
- an outstanding checking line.
However, there are some major mismatches here in this series:
- Regina's 1st line is among the finest in the draft; Kenora... not so much. Messier, Bucyk and Selanne are all significantly better players than their Kenora counterparts. This is a line whose speed, size and very balanced offensive ability from all three players will make them impossible to contain forever, even for the great Eddie Shore.
- Tony Esposito is a significantly better goalie than Percy Lesueur. Lesueur is a bargain basement starter who ranks close to 40th, Esposito somewhere in the 14-20 range depending on who you ask.
- Kenora's 2nd line is a confusing mishmash. Dave Keon is a great start. And then Herb Cain? He's as bargain basement a 2nd liner as it gets, and brings offense only. and Rejean Houle is a good, but not legendary defensive winger with really no all-time offensive ability. With Keon able to play either the offensive game reasonably well, or the defensive game extremely well, it is difficult to determine just what this set of wingers does to help him accomplish either.
- Regina's defense is deeper and should be more effective. No doubt that Eddie Shore is a better #1 than King Clancy. But from there, Regina's depth wins out. Day is definitely a better player than whichever of Hall and Griffis you consider Kenora's #2. The other is approximately as good as whichever of the two you consider Regina's true #3, Reise or Neilson (I can't even tell which is better myself). I consider Bill Hajt to be Kenora's #4, and he's definitely not as good as Reise/Neilson, or even close. Mummery was a big, strong guy with decent offense but wasn't regarded as highly as our #5, Redden. Watson and Bodger are pretty close overall, with Watson averaging about 2 more non-PP minutes per game over his career, and for better and more successful teams. They are apples and oranges though, and Bodger's PP ability helps to narrow the gap. Comparing them is splitting hairs as they are both #6 guys. (Besides, McCabe is a better comparable to Bodger, and he is better). What this all boils down to is that they have three good top-4 defensemen and we have four.
- Leadership should not be ignored. Regina is rife with leadership. Aside from the assigned leadership team of Messier, Cashman, Day and Neilson, other great leaders include Nevin, Clancy, Bucyk, Bridgman, Watson, and MacAdam (in that order, IMO). This type of leadership simply won't let this #1 team lose, not now. Of course when drafting an all-time team you are bound to get some leaders one way or another. But let's face it; if Sid Smith is wearing an A in the ATD, you've got a team with a leadership void, Ted Kennedy notwithstanding.
- Spares? Rick Green is an ok spare. But I'm not sure what adding Blaine Stoughton and Andre Lacroix did for the Thistles. They are one-dimensional, single-position scoring forwards. These picks smack of "looking at the last MLD draft list and just picking two names". MacMillan and Boudrias don't have the same offensive upside, but they can fill in at 2-3 positions each, and on any line but the 1st. (yes, Stoughton and Lacroix are viable short-term 2nd line options too, but they're out of place on lower lines, playing roles they can't fill) Make no mistake, it's rare that a team has all 18 of its best skaters healthy; there are usually 2-3 guys filling in at any given time and right now is no exception. How does their lineup cope with these changes? How does ours?
- Coaching is a plus for Regina. In typical fashion, I have put together a team capable of rolling four lines, which is what Fred Shero liked to do. Lemaire is of course a "trap" coach. Does he have the players to pull it off? On the third line he certainly does - what an outstanding 3rd line - but the rest of the lineup I'm wishy-washy about. Martin is more than just your usual "Yes Man" but he doesn't make this tandem better than Shero.
- Regina's dominant top line features two players who are legendary PP performers on the wings. Seeing this unit go up against the likes of Metz, Keon, Hajt, Sanderson and Westfall will be awesome.
- Both lineups have "concentrated toughness", not necessarily throughout the lineup. And on Regina, it's at forward, with Messier, Cashman and Bridgman being downright scary. They are countered by Shore and Hall, who patrol the blueline for Kenora. This could be a tactical, cat and mouse game in Regina's zone, with "efficient" players like Oliver, Nevin, Day, Neilson, Redden and Watson guarding tame forwards like Smith, Dye, Cain, and Keon. But it could be knock-down-drag-out hockey in Kenora's zone, with the Messier/Cashman/Bridgman vs. Shore/Hall/Sanderson battles being epic. Installing Fontinato, and to a lesser extent McCabe, would of course change this dynamic. Of course, at any given time one of them will likely be playing, just due to there always being an injury.
Game 1: Kenora plays the trap to perfection and Regina can't break through. Keon scores the only goal of the game. Leseuer has a shutout with only 11 saves and is not voted a stat of the game. Kenora wins 1-0.
Game 2: Eddie Shore is a force at both ends of the ice, playing menancing D and getting two assists on the powerplay. Kenora wins 3-1. Turgeon may have been seen crying between periods.
Game 3. Messier gives an impassioned speech before the game, and he delivers - 1 goal, 1 assist, and one stick to Shore's face when the refs aren't looking. Regina wins 2-0.
Game 4. Messier, Selanne, and Bucyk each have a goal as Regina starts to break the trap, helped greatly by the skating of Clancy. Regina wins 4-1.
Will Regina be the first team in the series to win on home ice?
Period 1: Regina comes out with a mission, outshooting Kenora 10-2. Mark Messier absolutely levels Griffis, Bucyk picks up the loose puck and feeds Selanne for the only goal of the period.
Period 2: Mel Bridgman has his beat period of the series and goads Shore into coincidental minors. Turgeon scores his first goal of the series on the ensuing 4 on 4. Late in the period, Turgeon sets up Cashman for a 3-0 lead.
Period 3: Kenora scores early on the PP (the little-used Dye putting in a rebound of a Shore shot), but Messier scores less than a minute later to re-establish the 3 goal lead. Regina coasts to victory, as Jacques Lemaire still makes heavy use of the Sanderson line, even down 3 goals.
Regina wins game 7 by a score of 4-1, outshooting Kenora 28-15.
Regina wins in 7 games after a dominant win in Game 7.
1. Mark Messier
2. Eddie Shore
3. Ted Kennedy
Selanne, Bucyk, and Clancy all had big parts in the Regina victory. Keon played well in the loss. Sanderson was praised for containing Messier in the 3 Kenora wins.