Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Analysis: SomeLikeItGreen's Battle Team

In yesterday's post, we wondered what an all Battle Team would look like. Selecting the best of the four Battle clubs (Buf, NJD, NYI, NYR) certainly isn't easy but I wouldn't have it any other way. As we discovered, one response had some interesting suggestions. Let's take a look at what SomeLikeItGreen came up with before I take my crack:

Kovalchuk-Richards-Gaborik

Parise-Zajac-Grabner
Vanek-Tavares-Callahan
Avery-Gerbe-Zuccarello


Streit-Ehrhoff
Leopold-Staal
Larsson-Myers


Lundqvist
Miller


Coach: Tortorella; Asst.: Ruff

Right away, they took the most talented scorers and put them with top center Brad Richards. I just don't know if there are enough pucks to go around to satisfy both Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Gaborik. But it paints a dream scenario with the dangerous right-handed sniper on the left side and the just as potent lefty on the right for Richy Rich to set up. SLIG's second unit is intriguing, combining all the elements a good scoring line should have. You got size in Travis Zajac, grit and skill in Zach Parise, plus high potential in Michael Grabner, whose second half still marvels. This could be a potent unit with game-breakers. Plus Zajac's ability to win faceoffs and battles in the corners along with Parise's competitiveness would make them tough to contain on the cycle.
 
What's not to love about a third line of Thomas Vanek and Ryan Callahan centered by emerging star John Tavares? Even though his production hasn't been the same since that monster '05-06, Vanek's a better player now- more responsible defensively and unselfish. He's never had a legit No.1 to play with. Tavares is ready to put it altogether. We see at least a 38-39-77 third year. Then you have the hardest worker pound for pound in Callahan, who'll do anything to win. His offense improved to nearly a point-per-game, which should land the future Ranger captain a nice contract. A perfect complement to the skill of JT91 and Vanek, who can outwork opponents. 
 
SomeLikeItGreen's (SLIG) fourth line is based on potential featuring Sabre mighty mite Nathan Gerbe, who came on strong. There's also wildcard Mats Zuccarello, who early in his recall on Broadway demonstrated some deft stickhandling and underrated playmaking. MZA has a lot to prove this Fall. The pressure's on. Taking pest Sean Avery is sensible to create space for the two midgets. Sean's not exactly a giant but plays bigger by finishing checks and winning puck battles. He'll also drive opponents nuts. Especially around the edge of the crease. There's grit, speed and finishing ability.
 
The D is unique because I wouldn't have come up with any of those combos. Teaming Mark Streit and Christian Ehrhoff puts an emphasis on puckmoving blueliners who can get involved. It'd be interesting to see if Ehrhoff could cover for Streit when he pinches. Both certainly are capable of contributing but Streit's the more physical player, which is risky. If you want an attacking team, they'll supply it. Jordan Leopold and Marc Staal are more conventional, combining a solid skater with a defensive D. If anything, Leopold's proven to be underrated due to health. When on the ice, he's fully capable of producing while not looking out of place in his end. Staal is already one of the best defenders in the game, who uses his reach and skating to get pucks out. While his passing still needs work, he does have the ability to jump in if needed as a highlight reel shorthanded goal proved versus Pittsburgh. But that's not his job. He's far more comfortable playing in his end as opposed to pinching. So, this would be a solid combo. If you like youth/potential, then Adam Larsson and Tyler Myers have it all. A smooth skater who's sound overall in the Devil gem that can chip when needed, while Myers brings the lumber along with a potent shot that intimidates. In a few years, they could be the premier duo among BONY. Good thing they're not on the same roster.
 
SLIG opted to go with King Henrik over Miller Time in net. If you preach consistency, then I agree that Henrik Lundqvist certainly qualifies with 30-or-more victories every season since the lockout, along with Olympic gold. Not bad for a seventh round steal. Ryan Miller has more credentials, including a Vezina along with a heroic Olympic performance in defeat. He's also been to two Conference Finals. I guess it depends on who you prefer. Miller is far more aggressive challenging shooters while Lundqvist stays back in his net to protect his glove, which has improved. Both have a tendency to allow softies. So, it's a tough call.
 
Choosing John Tortorella over Lindy Ruff is interesting. I guess SLIG likes an all aggressive style, which forces the goalie to make game-breaking saves. If you want emotion, Tort's got it. He hates losing. Ruff's not that different, sometimes sounding off to protect his guys. But he's also a little cooler off the ice, which would probably help. Since we now know that Pete DeBoer is coaching the Devils, we'll take him over Jack Capuano to complete the staff. He's got more experience and did a respectable job with Hawks South. I like the defensive element he brings. Besides, you can't have three loud mouths. It just doesn't add up.
 
Since we decided to analyze SomeLikeItGreen's Battle Team, I'll hold off on mine till tomorrow. Here's the breakdown per each roster.
 
Sabres-6
Devils-4
Islanders-3
Rangers-7

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