Thursday, April 24, 2008

Behind the Blue Line: A Look at the Defence and Goalies

Hey, look! Finally some actual hockey analysis instead of made-up history. After HF4 did a yeoman's job looking at the Forwards, yours truly and Panger tag-team to take a look at the folks who will try to stop the other team from scoring.

DEFENSE
Habs - with DOOM finally rounding into form after his injury, the Habs D corps is looking as solid as Fergie's abs. We've got the terror-inducing body checks and shot-blocking of DOOM, the veteran presence of Hamrlik, the feistiness of Gorges and Franky B, and the (alleged) offensive talents of Markov. Even Breezer is not sucking, tied for third in Habs playoff scoring [bangs head against keyboard]. Throw in Rhino if he plays, and the fact that Streit has gone back to forward where he can't be frightened by opponents like he was in his games as D against Boston, and this gang looks good to go.

Flyers - Saku's BFF Kimmo Timonen really showed something against the Caps. He played well offensively (especially in Game 7, where he set up the winner) and did a fabulous job shadowing Ovie. He's small, but very smart and quick. Kimmo's partner Braydon Coburn is a reasonable facsimile of an NHL D and led the Flyers in +/- during the regular season. If that pair does as well against Kovy as they did Ovie, Kovy will get frustrated. Of course Derian Hatcher is Derian Hatcher, close to 200 PIM during the regular season and tied for the Flyers lead in +/- during the Caps' series. I don't know any other Flyers D.

Edge - Habs, but with Timonen playing out of his mind, I think it's closer than some people think.

GOALTENDING
(by FHF resident goalie expert Panger76)

Lots of parallels here: both keepers are hybrid-butterfly goalies drafted in the first round (albeit 10 years apart) and who lead their respective teams to a 7-game series win in their first NHL playoff experience. I suppose this isn’t to surprising since when Biron played in Buffalo he was behind a multiple Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Still, Buffalo won nothing in those years (haha Sabres suck…but wait, we’re making of fun of the Flyers. OK.). In the first round, TFS had 2 shutouts to Biron’s one, and had better stats (GAA and Save %). The both got 4 wins though, with Biron grabbing two in OT. So not too much to pick from stats wise. Reputation wise…well I don’t remember Biron leading his country or any of his teams to any championships. Of course I didn’t follow his career in midget.

The big difference is size: Price is bigger by a couple of inches and many pounds, which will come in handy when Flyers forwards are crashing the net and the refs keep their whistles in their pockets. Size not just between Biron and Price, but between Price and the last goalie the Flyers faced, some guy named HueT. Anyone who underestimates how important TFS’s size is is not paying attention: Habs fans couldn’t have been presented with a better illustration of why Gainey traded HueT that they replay from game 7 when HueT got smoked by an onrushing Flyers forward, was knocked out of the net and the Flyers popped the puck into the deserted cage. Price won’t be knocked around so easily.

Two big questions: can TFS(tm) continue to play well beyond his years and steal some wins for the Habs? And on the other side, will the French-Canadian kid step up his game like so many other Quebecers playing in Montreal?

[HF29 note: I thought we were supposed to have the answers Panger ;)]

5 comments:

Habsfan10 said...

Hey, that "Russians leaving the ice after a Van Impe foul on Kharmalov" thing really happened sort of just like that, although with a few fewer severed heads.

Noda said...

Don't look now but it looks like ESPN's playoff poles have us most likely to win the series AND the Flyers most likely to with the Cup...wait...what?

10) Which team will win the Stanley Cup?

29.0% Flyers
21.3% Red Wings
16.3% Penguins
10.7% Sharks
8.4% Rangers
5.7% Canadiens
4.8% Avalanche
3.9% Stars

Total Votes: 42,722

HabsFan29 said...

@Noda - must be a misprint

panger76 said...

Wow, that's surprising cause if you took Philly out I wouldn't disagree too much with the rest. I don't understand how the Stars could get so little support after ousting the defending Cup champs, but the Flyers, who snuck into the playoffs and defeated a team that also barely made the playoffs, is looked at as a favourite.

moeman said...

Jones'n for da game!