Friday, April 27, 2007

Lou and Big Bird: A Contrast in Styles

I don't know if anyone here has ever checked out the ASAP Sports website, it contains copies of interview transcripts, I highly recommend it. It's interesting to me how little of the insightful commentary makes it's way to the sports pages, especially north of the border. Unfortunately when it comes to hockey, they generally have only logged the pressers from the later rounds of the playoffs.

Some comments from Larry Robinson during the 2000 finals, the year that the Devils won the Stanley Cup in Dallas, this after Game 1 in N.J:

Q. Scotty's team seemed unusually low. Was that as a result you were trying to match him up against Modano shift for shift?

COACH ROBINSON: We were trying to do that. We were trying to get Scotty and Rafalski against Modano but it wasn't solely that. I mean if they didn't want to get that matchup I feel pretty comfortable matching any one of our pairings up because you are going to have to at some point, especially when we get back to Dallas, try to make some adjustments as well, so --

Q. Will you keep the Arnott-Sykora-Elias line against Modano or do you not prefer have no preference?

COACH ROBINSON: It's not that I don't have a preference if I am able to get that matchup I will, but a lot depends on how often they are playing and just how successful they are against them. No sense putting them out there if Modano is in our end all the time. So I have confidence in the number of my lines to play against a lot of their players. I think I try to balance out the lines with guys that are capable of doing that.

When I first read this I thought that "Scotty" referred to Niedermayer, looking at this again it appears that Stevens-Rafalski were the big pairing for Larry. And at a quick glance through the Game Sheets it looks like this carried on into the games in Dallas. When Arnott scored the OT winner in Game 6 he was playing with Elias, Rafalski, Stevens and Mogilny (Sykora had been hurt earlier in the game if my memory is right). And he was playing against Modano, Hull, Lehtinen, Hatcher and Cote.

By all the evidence available, this was pure power vs power right through the series. No surprise from Hitchcock, that was usually his tactic. Clearly Robinson is a coach from the same branch of the tree.

Now jumping forward in time to last night's N.J vs OTT game (which I missed, by the way), looks like Lou Lamouriello is completely old school. If you enter game number 30221 at ... it's just crazy how much Madden played against Alfredsson's line. As perfect a match as you could get considering that there were seven penalties in the game. And Matvichuk was clearly the defenceman that Lou wanted out there against them, with Colin White the most common partner. Rafalski barely saw them.

Got to feel for Madden. He had the hard match with Lecavalier's line in the last series as well. His line just doesn't have the firepower to keep their heads above water at 5on5 against this concentrated level of competition. So far, at even strength with goalies in both nets ... he is EV +1, EV -7 in the playoffs. All goals have happened with the Vinny line (T.B) or the Alfredsson line (OTT) on the ice.

That's all well and good if the other team's depth players are terrible. Then guys like Langenbrunner, Gionta, Parise, Zajac etc can kick the asses of opposition that most of us have never heard of before. But Ottawa has a lot of good players right down the lineup. I just can't imagine a Langenbrunner-Parise-Zajac line kicking Comrie-Fisher-Schaefer (or similar) all around the rink this series, can you?


Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Some comments from Larry Robinson during the 2000 finals, the last time the Devils won the Stanley Cup...

I can only fucking WISH that this were true.

4/27/2007 11:16 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

D'oh! Sorry about that Earl. Just a bit though. I'll edit that. :D

4/27/2007 11:25 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Interesting stuff.

Lou didn't have Elias available for G1, so that plays a factor. Still, I agree with your assessment - it was pretty obvious that Madden's line wasn't going to hang with Lecavalier and I'm surprised they weren't forced to try Elias vs. Lecavalier and win with a higher number of events.

Comrie did get kicked around last night though too. I expect that will probably change because from what I saw of the PIT series, Comrie's definitely capable of outscoring inexperienced bottom sixers.

Ottawa's too good for this Devils team IMO. They're going to outchance them by a lot this series.

4/27/2007 4:17 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

I did a post on the Sens/Pens and Murray had Alfredsson out against Crosby a pile and Therrien was pretty well ok with that - when they got back to Pittsburgh he rolled with it. I guess he hoped Crosby would outscore or at least go evens with Alfie and then they would get their offence from their other guys as well as on the PP. Didn't work out that way and while Comrie had his moments last night he actually played some decent opposition vs. the Pens and came out on top by any measure.

This is what is going to set the Sens apart from the Devils, Sabres apart from the Rangers and whoever wins between the Sharks/Wings apart from the Ducks, imo. Too much depth up front. Its one thing for the Ducks to get their kids softer minutes when they are facing the Canucks but who are they going to outscore if they face the Wings. They'll get eaten alive.

4/27/2007 6:03 pm  
Blogger Lowetide said...

I never count out the Devils. They have the Montreal-style habit of getting ridiculous calls when needed (probably called the Red Wing-style call by now).

Somewhere in this series the NJD will look like they're on the verge of getting into a big hole, and then some phantom freaking call will give them a golden opportunity.

Not saying it's cheating.


4/27/2007 6:39 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...


Besides New Jersey with Madden and Anaheim with Pahlsson, are there any teams left in the NHL today that actually use the concept of a "checking/shutdown line"?

I'm having a hard time thinking of one. Seems like Power v. Power with the forward lines is the rule for 90% of the coaches out there.

Then again, if we end up with an Anaheim/New Jersey final again (God forbid), what might that say, other than the fact that Anaheim can ice at least 1 Norris trophy candidate for 55 of 60 minutes and the Devils are a bunch of douchebags coached by a total asshole, with one of the best five goalies in history tending the twine (no way in HELL should they have beat Ottawa last night...Brodeur was the only reason they won).

4/29/2007 10:40 am  
Blogger Lord Bob said...

This whole shutdown thing isn't working for New Jersey: Madden and crew got run over by Alfredsson and crew last night, and it was entirely due to Brodeur that he wasn't EV-infinity.

Everybody who says that Brodeur is only considered a good goalie because he's spent his career on a good defensive team should watch this series and, for that matter, every Devils playoff series for the last five years. That guy gets it done, the bastard.

4/29/2007 1:19 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Brodeur is a bastard, yes.

A bastard I'd LOVE to have on my team.

Thank God for him and Hasek being around to create a debate over "best goalie ever". To see that title bestowed upon Patrick Roy without argument would be vomit-inducing.

4/29/2007 4:40 pm  
Blogger Tyler said...

How'd he make out in G1?

4/29/2007 6:25 pm  
Blogger Jeff J said...

'Besides New Jersey with Madden and Anaheim with Pahlsson, are there any teams left in the NHL today that actually use the concept of a "checking/shutdown line"?'

There is at least one more, and it's the same team that employs Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau and Doug Jarvis. Go figure.

4/30/2007 11:12 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Yeah, I'd agree with that after having a quick look at Vic's site. They don't try nearly as hard for matchups on the road as ANA or NJD by my eye, but they definitely try to get Bonk's line out against the best at home.

4/30/2007 1:05 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Haha, a pretty bad non-call cost the Devils a win tonight.

I enjoyed seeing that, especially since I could pick out at least four pretty obvious hooks and trips that weren't called on New Jersey in the 3rd period.

Go Sens Go.

4/30/2007 8:15 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Early on it looks like there's no line that can really outchance the Spezza line. I thought Crosby did a magnificent job in R1 but was let down by his defense, primarily Gonchar who looked gassed by G4. Not really a suprise mind you, you can't expect a guy to play 1:45 of every PP and then take on the tough ES matchup as well.

Looking at the current series, Madden-Pandolfo-Brylin is just getting hammered in terms of chances for/against and yes, if the Devs have a chance they'll need the Egg line plus Two Kids and a guy who looks like a baby, ie Parise-Zajac-Langebrunner, to really really outscore the Vermette and Fisher lines. So far, not so much and Ott certainly looks built for the long haul. I think the only thing that can derail them in this series vs NJ is the Devs going nuclear on the PP.

In any case, Lou's gonna have to go power vs power and as Riv said, hope it works on a high event tip. As it is, things aren't working out for the devs at all.

5/01/2007 3:55 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Ottawa now ahead 3 games to 1.

If they didn't have Brodeur, they'd be completely fucked. He's good enough he could go "Cujo circa 1998" and totally stonewall Ottawa.

But I'm not about to bet on it. This is a different Ottawa team folks....

Funny thing that Stauffer said today though, and I usually am onside with most of what Bob says: he likes Anaheim having all their good players on two lines, a checking line and a goon line, and then says "enough with this business with a checker on each line". I don't know if that was a thinly-veiled shot at the power vs. power philosophy, but if it was, I ask this:

If having a "checking line" is such a good strategy, why do 90% of the teams in the league not follow said philosophy?

5/02/2007 8:46 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Well, I'm not sure if Bob knows this or not but Pineapple Head can run his Ducks bench like that beause Moen-Pahlsson-Neidermeyer manage to stay afloat during the tough min and then third in line comes the Selanne line and they feast on the nobodies.

I guess by now everyone knwos that Pahlsson takes on the big dogs and Selanne faces the nobodies but the biggest story is how their kids line has come along to the point where they can take the second toughest min.

5/03/2007 8:36 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

vic, coming on game 5 and you pegged this one - Alfie's line has 9 of 12 goals this series or some such thing and Lou keeps running Madden out when he can, hoping that the EGGs and Parise can outscore enough to offset Alfie eating Madden alive. And its not happening.

Ottawa is looking pretty damn interesting. Fisher's line isn't scoring worth a damn - nobody else is really but they're holding their own.

And the more I see of Buffalo, even if they do get by the Rangers, I think the Sens might be able to do some damage.

5/04/2007 5:46 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Yeah, the Ducks have looked rather impressive in beating the Canucks. If not for Luongo....Ducks in three?

I watch Pronger and get mad he decided to beg-off playing out his obligations here. Then I get more mad when I see Getzlaf looking like an absolute stud 1C in the making out there.

Stauffer made another comment that irked me a bit yesterday..."This series is showing why Getzlaf wasn't on the table last July when the Pronger talks were happening".

Bullshit. Utter bullshit.

We were trading the best defenseman in the league, coming off a stellar playoff. Lowe should have INSISTED in getting Getzlaf and Smid at minimum, and then tried to get Vishnevski, who was a throwaway to Atlanta weeks later, as well. Instead? A totally useless and soft Joffrey Lupul, and a bunch of "maybes" in the form of draft picks.

The en vogue thing is to bitch about the Parise/Pouliot thing right now....that one doesn't even register with me. Not getting Getzlaf in the Pronger deal? Brutal miscalculation by Lowe. Disgusting.

5/04/2007 6:22 am  
Blogger YKOil said...

From sweatyo: If having a "checking line" is such a good strategy, why do 90% of the teams in the league not follow said philosophy?

Because to run that strategy properly the checking line has the be good - especially w/out the clutch and grab - REALLY REALLY GOOD.

There aren't THAT many of those types out there. Watch for the stock of those players to rise over time. I am still surprised that we let Dvo go. What a gross miscalculation.

5/05/2007 5:42 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Yeah, Dvorak was well a victim of the numbers game, with Hemsky/Pisani/waste-of-DNA Lupul down the right side.

Of course, if Lowe had done the right thing, demanded Getzlaf instead of Lupul, and had him able to play C or LW, perhaps Dvorak is retained?

Some bullshit article in the Journal yesterday about the Pronger deal has me ticked off today, the end was about how "certain players were unavailable" from Anaheim. News Flash to Matheson: Lowe was trading Chris Fucking Pronger. Everyone should have been in play. Instead, he bent over, took it up the ass, and got stuck with a green-but-talented defenseman, an overrated, soft RW, and a couple of draft picks. Was their a directive from on-high that said Lupul was the man? That is the question....if there was, Cal Nichols and Co. should learn to stay out of the business of player procurement, that's for sure.

Some don't like the Parise pick? The Getzlaf non-acquisition for Pronger is going to be my crusade. 10 times worse from where I sit.

God I hate Joffrey Lupul.

5/06/2007 9:33 am  

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