Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On having more franchise defensemen than you have franchises

A general sentiment on the Ducks’ HF Boards goes something like “Since CP and SN are each capable of playing half the game, Carlyle should split them up and have nearly all of his 60 regulation minutes covered (except maybe in 5-on-3 situations or late in a close game).”

I will admit initially that these were my initial thoughts as well. SN could continue to carry along Frenchie Beauchemin, while CP could adopt-a-Vishnevski and help ensure that some Norris would be along the blueline at nearly all times.

But now, given a few days to debate with my PS2, I’m wondering again. Why exactly is it a bad idea to play the horses together? If we were any one of 29 other teams, common convention would be to take the top 2 blueliners and paste them together to make a ‘#1 tandem’. And we know that CP and SN can do a lot to help their defensive partners, what would happen if they brought out the best in each other?

It’s not like there’s a lot of redundancy in style, either. CP is the slow-but-sturdy traditional defenseman, adding a lot of punch and power with some blueline bombs. SN is the quick-but-everywhere roamer, without a big shot but extremely intelligent on the puck. Team Canada found this to be quite a desirable tandem, and for sure I think we could also.

The only problem being, that’s $13 M being spent on your blueline for half the game, what happens in the other (non-Norris) half? While Beauchemin/Vishnevski/O’Donnell/Dipenta are all NHL-calibre serviceable defensemen, how will their (easier?) minutes fare when left to their own devices?

I think the question of sharing icetime has more than one right answer, by the way. We’re probably in good shape no matter how Carlyle plays the studs; neither CP nor SN has missed the playoffs in more than a decade. Still, I’m not sure that separating the horses should be a foregone conclusion; there is plenty of upside to controlling the 30 most important minutes of a game.

At any rate, that is the #1 question I have going into next season: how much icetime do SN and CP end up sharing? Tell me what you’d do as a coach, and later I’ll tell you all how wrong you all were.


CMcMurtry said...

The problem is determing when those 30 most important minutes of the game are.

And if you don't have home ice and thus last chance, you risk the possibility of teams throwing their big line against the weaker pairs, which would mean you'd have to rush to get those guys off and Pronger & Niedermayer on to combat it.

So on the road, they couldn't rest, even when on the bench.

Beachemin & Vishnevski are good enough, to me as an unbiased observer anyway, that you can pair each with one of the big dogs and still get a way-above-average pair of d-men on the ice.

Anonymous said...

I agree with mcmurty, I think you're better off with two very good d-lines rather than one great d-line. That way you've got "way-above-average" defensive pairs to go against both the #1 and #2 lines of the opposing team. It also means you have to do a lot less worrying about matching your big line up against theirs.

About team canada finding CP-SN a good pairing, they also had the likes of Blake, Foote, Jovanovski and Redden as their other d-men. While I like Frenchy a lot, and Vish-dog is awesome too, they aren't quite of the same caliber as those guys.

That said, I think it would be really fun to watch CP-SN out there together.

Anonymous said...

you're loving this way too much, you bastard!

a.k.a. i need to buy a new jersey now

jamestobrien said...

This is the hockey equivalent to Brad Pitt debating whether or not he should keep sleeping with Jennifer Anniston or start banging Angelina Jolie.

I'm ALMOST as jealous.

mike w said...

Damn. I wish the Oilers would be fortunate enough to have such problems.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I know it's not a real problem, but I do think it is an interesting one (or interesting that opinions are one-sided, I guess).

If it were 2 top-tier forwards, the natural inclination would be to put them both on the same line. They improve each other to an extent that is better than each anchoring a line.

What if top D were to do something similar? Pairing top defensemen seems to be the common practice in hockey, why does it necessarily change because it's Pronger-Niedermayer?

Earl Sleek said...

a.k.a. i need to buy a new jersey now

So do we all, those non-Disney bastards!

James Mirtle said...

I'm pretty sure Niedermayer missed the playoffs with Jersey one year.

As for the 'where do you play them' dilemma, you keep Niedermayer with Beauchemin, get Pronger to elevate one of your other scrubs — at even strength. When you're on the power play, which is really where having two studs is going to help out, they both get out there for nearly the entire thing. (Which means Beauchemin's point totals are going to fall.)

Earl Sleek said...

I'm pretty sure Niedermayer missed the playoffs with Jersey one year.

Sure, '95-'96, by the looks of it. But not in the last decade.

Chris said...

I'd imagine one thing you'd have to look at is splitting them up for away games and having one of them out there for the entire game. While at home you may want to play them together given that you have the last change in that situation and can use them more strategically.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that only one d-man gets to take the puck out of the zone/make that first pass. With Nieds and Prongs on two different units, you will always be getting a good first pass out of the zone.

Anonymous said...

Also, consider how much two solid D-men improve each other (minimally) versus how much one solid D-man can improve an average one (significantly -- see the Oilers' D for all of last season). It's the complete opposite of forwards, which is why I probably would rather have one each paired up with someone else, especially, as noted, during away games. For home games, special teams, and late lead defences, then we can start talking about putting the Norris Brothers (yeesh) together.