Saturday, May 29, 2010

Philly and Chicago prove that depth top bright lights

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Deatsyuk, Nik Lidstrom, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Roberto, the Sedin twins, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nik Backstrom, Alex Semin, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Martin Brodeur, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Zach Parise are all sitting at home right now because the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks (with some help from the Montreal Canadiens) have proven that bright lights can be turned out by a swarm of depth.

In rounds 1 and 2, the Habs managed to slow down Ovechkin and Backstrom along with Semin and Green (although one could argue that those two took themselves out) of their first round matchup. No such thoughts could exist after the Canadiens used the blanket of Josh Georges and Hal Gill to completely shut down the NHL's golden boy Sidney Crosby and help continue Evgeni Malkin's season long fog. Jordan Staal was by far the Pens most effective player when he played in the series. However once they reached they reached the Eastern Final, not only were they out of gas but they were simply overmatched by the Philadelphia Flyers. While the Habs had two players who were absolutely rolling (is. Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta) none of their teammates up front were contributing all that much offensively except for the occasional goal from the third line. The Flyers on the other hand had three lines that seemed to be able to score on any shift: Richards-Carter-Gagne, Leino-Briere-Hartnell, Giroux-Van Riemsdyk-Aasham. All three of these lines have talent and the testicular fortitude to head to the net hard. On defence the Flyers possess the All-World jackass Chris Pronger (whom also just happens to be an all-world talent) along along with calm and cool Kimmo Timonen and two up and comers in Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle form a very solid/at times spectacular top four that has made career journeyman Michael Leighton look like the second coming of Bernie Parent. Ryan Parent is also a promising up and comer as their current #6 guy. No team in the East could possibly match their depth. (Blair Betts is one of the top PK guys in the league whom along with blood and guts warrior Ian Laperriere and Darryl Powe form a very good fourth line).

The bad news for Philly is that their opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, are even deeper then they are. 22 year old captain Jonathen Toews-Patrick Kane-Dustin Byfuglien form the first line, Patrick Sharp-Marian Hossa-Troy Brouwer, Dave Bolland (who has become one of the best checking centers in the NHL this season)-Kris Versteeg-Andrew Ladd/Tomas Kopecky form the top three lines that are even better then Philly's because a) they have more balanced speed and b) Ladd or Kopecky aren't an anchor on their line like Aaron Asham can be. As good as the Flyers fourth line can be, John Madden-Colin Fraser/Adam Burish-Ben Eager line is a little more physical, a little more annoying to play against, and Madden bring cup winning experience to the lineup. Much like Philly, the top four on D borders on phenomenal with the top pairing in the league with Canadian Olympians Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell with the very underrated Nik Hjalmarsson following them. One more place that the 'Hawks have a slight advantage is in the 5-6 pairing as Brent Sopel and Jordan Hendry bring the physicality and shot blocking ability that you want out of your bottom two. Finally in net Antti Niemi has shown (after that blooper reel goal in game on of the Nashville series) that he is solid and will not give up that bad big goal. You can bet that other teams have taken notice and the copycatting will take place starting this summer as the league will now think about trying to build through depth rather then a few big stars. The next lesson however that the league will learn from these two is in a year or two that in a cap era, depth is nearly impossible to hang onto as Philly and Chicago will have to make some very tought choices on which players to keep.

No comments:

Post a Comment