Lou and Big Bird: A Contrast in Styles
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 www.timeonice.com ... 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?