DayWalker wrote:First of all, I would argue that the Penguins overachieved in 2009, so I am not confident that a team similarly constructed would win again.
Reverse justification to start it out. Interesting. Bernie Parent overachieved in 1974 and 1975 (his career peak, one of the finest peaks of all-time for goalies), so therefore X...
DayWalker wrote:Secondly, the Penguins had two player (Malkin and Crosby) who scored more than thirty points those playoffs, the first players to do so since Sakic in 1996, and the first teammates to do so since Leetch and Messier in 1994. I think their production was and remains ahistorical, especially in light of how they have performed since June of 2009. To expect them to match that with this roster strikes me as empirically unreasonable.
A top flight winger was added (Neal) and Malkin reached a career high in PPG this past season. Better than his 2009 season. Crosby the same way over the past two seasons. Though abbreviated. The last playoffs were a dud due to coaching, not the performance of Malkin and Crosby. To think that they are incapable of out-producing their 2009 seasons when they are during the regular season despite scoring going down over that same period is a touch presumptious. There's no doubt those seasons were outstanding, but to think they are unmatchable given your aforementioned trust in Shero...
DayWalker wrote:Third, Chris Kunitz is terribly unproductive in the playoffs, so the fact that he was on two Cup-winning teams is substantially less meaningful than you think.
And the fact that you judged that entirely on production makes the point less meaningful than you think.
Understanding scoring lines, inflation and deflation of on-paper production.
Not all scoring lines were Bobby Hull-Jean Beliveau-Gordie Howe. Not all scoring lines were Maurice Richard-Wayne Gretzky-Pavel Bure either. Chris Kunitz is a typical glue guy, a fairly static producer, but physical, a quality forechecker that creates turnovers for his linemates. He's first to the corners, does fine boardwork and can finish adequately. He might be more valuable than a one-dimensional sniper on his line. We may never know that.
Historically, top-notch players were not necessarily all matched together, instead opting for different types of forwards to enhance the line's overall capability...
Alex Burrows a fine glue guy for Henrik (playmaker) and Daniel (goal scorer) Sedin. Does the board work and a good deal of forechecking for them. Henrik Sedin has led the league in assists three consecutive times with Burrows at his side more often than more talented teammates that could have gone there or did go there and didn't yield such results (Kesler, Samuelsson, Wellwood, Demitra, Grabner, Naslund).
Mikael Renberg added to the legion of doom with Eric Lindros and John LeClair...others passed up.
Sometimes an energy type player to create space and spread defenses apart to allow for cerebral linemates to create as in the case with Jean Beliveau and Boom Boom Geoffrion being paired with Jean-Guy Gendron for a time. Beliveau and Geoffrion finished one-two in scoring that season. Many more talented teammates (Dickie Moore, for one)
Sometimes a banger/protector is assigned to a scoring line. Think of Clark Gillies helping keep things safe for Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier (though the latter could certainly take care of himself). The more talented John Tonelli was pushed to the second line.
Or a defensive conscience was added to help balance a line that was purely offensive. Like when Phil Esposito and Bobby Hull were given the defensive forward Chico Maki in the mid-60's...
Chris Kunitz with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal does not look dissimilar to some of those lines. Roster limitations, especially in the salary cap era, can create the need to add players into unfamiliar roles (Rob Brown with Mario Lemieux, Mike Knuble with Joe Thornton, Blair McDonald with Wayne Gretzky). Some are met with success, some are yesterday's garbage...
DayWalker wrote:In those 37 games between Anaheim and Pittsburgh, he managed a whopping 2 goals. Craig Adams had a higher GPG in 2009, and his center for 24 of those games was not Sidney Crosby. For his career, Kunitz has scored only 12 goals in 84 playoff games, including only 8 in 49 games with the Penguins, many of which have been as a linemate for the two finest centers in the game. Although I do believe he is satisfactory as a complimentary winger on one of the top two lines, if he is the best winger on either line in the playoffs, his poor playoff production suggests the team is improperly constructed. Neither Anaheim in '07 nor Pittsburgh in '09 asked him to be anything more than a complimentary winger on one of the top two lines, and the fact that he managed only two goals in 37 games suggests that his value was grossly overstated in even those roles. (The fact of the matter is, Kunitz's expected role diminished during the 2007 playoffs with Anaheim as the playoffs went on.) He is a fine regular season performer, but his production drops substantially when it counts in the playoffs. So long as we refer to the Pens as Cup contenders, playoff production is of paramount concern in analyzing players and what they contribute. Doing "the little things" like opening up ice and scaring Kimmo Timonen are nice, but if you are Geno or Sid's best winger, you need to produce substantially more than he has in April and beyond.
A lot of numbers there. But as you note "asked him to be anything more than a complimentary winger on one of the top two lines" is the only point that needs to be made. See: Gendron and Maki's production from the examples above. You have to understand team composition in the face of coaching decisions and roster limitations. You must compare to contemporary rosters. We won't be able to build a super team like the 1984 Oilers.
DayWalker wrote:Fourth, Dupuis may be a better all-around player than Fedotenko, but he is NOT better than Fedotenko as a playoff scorer. Not even close. Fedotenko averages .20 GPG in the playoffs; Dupuis is .146. Furthermore, Fedotenko was already productive with TB in '04 before his critical secondary-scoring contributions with the in Pens in '09. If Dupuis were, again, being used as a complimentary winger like he was with Hossa and Crosby in 2008, he might suffice, but if he is the linemate of somebody as unproductive as Kunitz, your team is not going anywhere. Frankly, I believe Dupuis is miscast as a top-six forward to begin with, especially if the other winger is not a Hossa-caliber player, so I think his inclusion is out of necessity more than design. A month-and-a-half sample before New Year's Day 2011 is considerably less relevant than what a player has historically done in crunch time. Fedotenko produced twice in the playoffs; a guy who was a frequent healthy scratch in the 2009 playoffs has not.
It's interesting that the 2009 Penguins, as a team, a team that by and large, went to the 2008 Finals...was considered an overachiever, but Ruslan Fedotenko and his two playoffs out of 10 where he was a meaningful contributor is not? That's very strange sentiment. I'm not sure that Fedotenko's 27.9% shooting percentage was going to be sustainable. His only two noteworthy playoff performances removed: 62 GP, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points. 3.8% shooting percentage.
Pascal Dupuis with his two most productive playoffs removed: 53 GP, 6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points. 6.7% shooting percentage.
Dupuis wasn't given the opportunity to take on a bigger role in the 2009 playoff run because of the glut of mediocre wingers we had (Satan and Sykora also frequent scratches in that playoffs). He might be miscast as a top-six winger, but roster limitations prevent such a thing. Dupuis out-produced his static producing levels this season which is a major positive. Though, it's likely not sustainable. It's a solid, if unspectacular option, given the circumstances...
DayWalker wrote:This forward roster is not nearly as good as that one, and that doesn't even take into consideration the ahistorical production of Crosby and Malkin that spring with those overall superior playoff forwards.
As far as Tangradi, I suspect if his is given a meaningful look, it is also out of need and not design. That is an indictment of an organization that, presumably, considers itself a Cup contender. I will happily admit that I am wrong if he does produce enough for a Cup contender in that role, but I have seen little to date from him to suggest that he will fit the profile of players like Guerin or Malone.
Sources in the organization suggest to me that any use of Tangradi in a scoring role is by design. Though it might be rushed one year.
DayWalker wrote:I do believe the team overachieved in 2009 relative to the roster. I still believe Detroit was a better team that year, and that team was fortunate to catch many important breaks (The Rangers beating the Flyers Easter Sunday, the Canes beating the teams that I believe would have been the Pens' toughest outs in the East, Lidstrom and Datsyuk"s injuries, and so forth). As Hugo suggested, that is almost always necessary for a team to win a championship, especially in a league with cap-induced parity, but that doesn't diminish their importance. The sentiment is not designed to undermine their accomplishments, but I do offer it to suggest why references to what occurred three years ago are of limited utility now. As far as your "reverse justification" comment is concerned, I have no clue what you are talking about, nor do I follow the Parent non sequitir. Perhaps you can explain the relevance of those.
You have me in a rare position of sounding like a homer, normally I bring the outsider opinion...this is fun and somewhat new. Anyway, I mean, to say the team overachieved, you would think that they wouldn't have been in the Finals the year before or got an excess of help along the way that led to their win...you cite Datsyuk, that's meaningful certainly, injuries happen...the Wings went 1-2 with Datsyuk in that series. When I think overachievement, I think of a team like the 2006 Hurricanes. Rookie goaltender comes in and gets hot after a pretty dreadful regular season, wins the Conn Smythe (kinda), they play Buffalo who lost 5 of 6 defensemen in the Eastern Conference Finals, then went against the hottest goalie in all the land in Edmonton in Dwayne Roloson, who was iinjured in game 1 of the series and a game that ended on a rare hiccup that very well could have tilted the series the "wrong" way...I don't think they made the playoffs the year before or after....
Winning the Cup as an established, contending team doesn't really strike me as overachieving...but maybe I'm in the minority there.
My other comments regarded how the fanbase, once bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, has now turned against the franchise because of the last playoffs and the fear that two months from now we might have one of our top prospects in the lineup...so much so, that people just come out of the woodwork, especially when the team struggles, to not only crap on the team currently assembled but justify their claim by saying the 2x Eastern Conference Champ, and 2009 Stanley Cup winner "overachieved" ...seems rather dubious. By that logic, Bernie Parent had a two-year outlier in his career in 1974 and 1975 that resulted in the Flyers only two championships "overachieved" and should be looked at with cocked-eye...
DayWalker wrote:Secondly, again, three total players have scored thirty or more points in a playoff season since 1996: Briere, Crosby, and Malkin. The Penguins had two of those players. In the same season. At no point did I say those numbers were "unmatchable," so please refrain from misrepresenting what I said. However, empirically, I believe it is unwise to expect them to match that production in the future, production that was absolutely essential to the team winning the Cup that year. This is why I have long argued that just because the team won with middling wingers and complementary scorers in 2009 does not mean that taking that approach on a yearly basis is wise design.
And my point was that these "middling wingers" are good enough given the cost structure. Interestingly, James Neal (first-team all-star, James Neal) is brought in and helps produce a career year for himself and Evgeni Malkin. These guys, these middling wingers, they're producing at a greater clip than ever before especially when adjusting for scoring pace in the given season. So they very much have the potential and ability to do so. Or get by with it until their prospect wingers come to fruition (if they do) - such as Tangradi, Bennett, Megna, Marcantuoni, etc. Or they make a trade. Or they find a signing that fits.
DayWalker wrote:Finding secondary playoff scoring is essential for virtually every team, and it is clearly something this top-heavy team must address before next spring if it is to compete for the Cup. It seems pretty clear by what has transpired in Pittsburgh since June of 2009 that the team recognizes this glaring need (even if some posters on this message board do not), but the outcomes to date suggest that what they have done is simply not sufficient to compete for a Cup. Acquiring James Neal appears to be a good way to begin to address this need, but I do not believe it is enough.
If anything, Neal adds more to the top-heavyness of the scoring I'd think. The secondary scoring can be a product of coaching tactics. Our third line in the Cup runs was designed to gain or keep momentum. A line that grinds out a cycle and keeps puck possession. It can manufacture offense but it wasn't informed to create offense organically. The job was to eat time, time in which we wouldn't surrender a goal, so that Crosby and Malkin could go back out there and create offense. Thus the perceived lack of secondary scoring but the excessive totals of Crosby and Malkin. It's more a product of tactics, in my eyes, than it is a indictment of how the team is built. Adjustments now may need to be made as we downgraded from Staal to Sutter.
And I bring up how well we did regarding scoring in the regular season because the team appears to have a strong correlation between regular season and playoff scoring...
Goals per game
Year |- RS -|- PO
2008 - 2.93 - 3.05
2009 - 3.15 - 3.29
2010 - 3.04 - 3.23
2011 - 2.78 - 2.00
2012 - 3.33 - 4.33
DayWalker wrote:Third, I am fully aware that teams can no longer be built like the Oilers in the 1980's and the Penguins in the 1990's. At no point was that or is that my expectation. However, I do expect substantially more from a guy who has played 43 playoff games beside either Crosby or Malkin to produce more than 7 goals during that time. Sorry, but that is unacceptable, irrespective of his forechecking abilities, physical game, or chemistry with certain players (And that doesn't even account for his disappearing act against Tampa Bay when the team was desperate for scoring from any source possible.) Again, I recognize that he does some little things well, but unless he is merely a complementary winger like he was in Anaheim in 2007 or with Pittsburgh in 2009, doing some little things well does not make up for his inability to produce in the playoffs when partnered with elite talent. As I suggested before, if Neal is the other winger on his line, I might be able to live with him as a top-six winger despite his unreliable nature as a playoff producer. (That assumes, of course, that Neal can be a reliable playoff scorer; the jury is still out on that given his limited sample size.) However, if he is the primary winger on either of the Pens' top two lines, his empirically-demonstrated inability to produce in the playoffs does not augur well for the team. As good as Crosby and Malkin are, it is entirely too easy to neutralize individual players in the playoffs. To date, Chris Kunitz has NEVER demonstrated the ability to produce critical secondary scoring when this happens. The 1984 Smythe Division semi-finals from this past spring aside, the Penguins had gone thirteen straight playoff games without scoring more than three goals. Montreal and Detroit demonstrated that Crosby (or any individual star, for that matter) can be easily neutralized by a good game plan. For that reason, it is essential that the Penguins find better secondary playoff scorers than they have had the last three seasons.
This primary vs. complementary distinction is important because as of right now, absent any other moves by Shero before the season starts, one has to assume that Kunitz will be moved back to Crosby's line as the primary scoring winger. That might suffice in the regular season, but given his unproductive playoff past, it could be deeply problematic for the team come April. This is why, again, I believe it is essential that the Penguins find a "primary" scoring winger for Crosby (if we are to assume that Neal stays with Malkin) to lessen the burden on him in the playoffs. If the Pens do that, Kunitz should suffice as a "complementary" winger on one of the top two lines. Neal, Hossa, and, to a lesser extent, Guerin have fill or have fill that role for this team before, but having only one of those is not good enough.
Ideally, I'd love a "primary" scoring option for Crosby. So would the organization. They're working on it (went after Parise, for one) but it's not easy. I'm not overly worried about Kunitz's lack of goal scoring in the playoffs. I'd love for him to go all Glenn Anderson for us, but I understand the role and limitations of the player, I'm content with him. We lost in 2008 without him, we acquired him and won in 2009 and he was the fourth highest scorer on the team...I'm ok with that.
DayWalker wrote:Fourth, even if Fedotenko overachieved, so what?
His pace is clearly not sustainable for the career. And when compared with Dupuis, Dupuis' average game is better than Fedotenko's average playoff game. So if Fedotenko passes as quality depth or secondary scoring or something, then Dupuis is as good of an option. I just found it odd that the anomaly of Fedotenko's 2 out of 10 playoff performances is passed over as "proven" but the Penguins are labeled "overachievers".
DayWalker wrote:Bringing him in as a cheap option during the summer of 2008 was a worthwhile gamble, specifically in light of his 12-goal playoff performance in 2004. I have to assume that when Shero brought him in, a proven ability to produce when it counts had to have been an important factor, especially for a team that was coming off of a loss in the Finals. The gamble clearly paid off, but, yeah, it was still a gamble. Regardless, those two seasons by a younger Fedotenko do not in any way justify gambling with Dupuis now if this team does indeed consider itself a Cup contender.
DayWalker wrote:The fact that they have to consider him for that role despite his inability to produce in the playoffs,
Again, why is Fedotenko's 0.37 pts/gm in the playoffs somehow more valuable 0.4 pts/gm in the playoffs when Dupuis is also faster and better defensively? Fedotenko was a good add, Dupuis is bad to have? These numbers are skewed by Dupuis use as a fringe forward/4th liner during a long run and Fedotenko's two anomalies...
Career pts/gm when used as a top-9 forward in the playoffs (Dupuis): 0.5
Career pts/gm when used as a top-9 forward in the playoffs (Tank): 0.38
DayWalker wrote:As far as Tangradi, I am thoroughly unconvinced that this team would choose Tangradi if they believed other viable options were available. Rather, I am absolutely convinced that if he is used in a top-six capacity, it is out of need rather than design. Same for either Kennedy or Dupuis.
Kennedy is designed to be a third line winger. Dupuis can be a fine complimentary player in the top-six and has been. Tangradi might be able to slot into top-six in a Ryan Malone type role. Who knows. Maybe he's Mike Rupp. The organization seems to like his upside. Let's get a look at him and see if it's by design...
I'm now officially jumping the fence. When we first got Tangradi, I tried to curtail the lofty expectations set upon him...now the fanbase thinks he's a bust (like Fleury) and see some potential (nothing like what I saw in Fleury, of course) so I'm going to take up his case. I'm officially in the Tangradi corner.
DayWalker wrote:I trust that Shero understands the team's critical needs in its top six (and on the blue line), but the last few seasons have undermined my faith in his ability to adequately address those needs. This season will be a critical one for the direction of this franchise.
Yeah, I don't get this. Went out, got two prize free agents in Martin and Michalek, which had all the makings of a top-notch shutdown pairing, traded Goligoski for Neal and Niskanen...went in on Parise...added toughness to the fourth line like Tanner Glass...acquired a major defensive prospect for a soon-to-be-depreciating asset in Staal, got an NHL ready third line center...he doesn't have a ton to work with asset wise without becoming the Flyers sacrifcing every draft pick for whatever Tom, Dick or Harry that will agree to an ill-fated six-year contract...
Shero has done a fine job. Let's hope Bylsma and his staff can figure out an improved game plan...