Big 4: 2 Questions

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by MIAtoBKLYN, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    4 smythes gives Crosby a pretty strong hold on #5. Whether you want to call it "big 5" or just " stand-alone 5" is semantics, though i do get and mostly agree with what you say.

    4 smythes - with the next 2 being good ones but not fantastic ones - aren't enough to touch the big 4. 4 smythes with at least one of them being a fantastic one (ie better than Malkin 2009)? Not saying that is definitely enough to break into the big 4 - but let's at least take the time to look at it more closely, as it would be hugely significant.
     
  2. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Well the last few pages have been all about you arguing Howe vs Crosby. So it's certainly about Crosby eventually moving past Howe, or what it would take to do so, so not sure about your first sentence.

    And the one thing I completely disagree with you on. You keep saying "well it's one thing Crosby would have above Gretzky/Howe and would be enough to differentiate him". Not really.

    Crosby being up on Howe 8-7 between their top 15 seasons doesn't do anything. Because it's highly subjective for one and could easily end up 7-8 with someone else counting, and because the top 3-4 are still Howe's so that 8-7 still screams advantage Howe.
    It's just like Crosby being the "best player in the world" for 14 years to Howe's 13 doesn't do much. Why? Because the count is highly subjective for one. And because 14-13 is barely an advantage worth speaking of.

    If Crosby was up 20 years vs 13 for Howe? Sure, let's make a big deal out of it.
    If Crosby was up 10-5 or at least 9-6 in best seasons among top 15 between he and Howe? Sure let's make a big deal out of it.

    The bar you're looking for is too low. Crosby has a huge gap behind the big 4 with his lack of peak in comparison. Subjectively topping Howe in top 15 seasons 8-7, or being "best player in the world" for 14 years vs 13 (which in itself is hugely dependent on competition and factors outside the player's control) just doesn't do it.

    Give him 4 smythes? Smythes is a recognized, huge achievement. Arguably the most important achievement in hockey. Give him 4 to no more than 2 for anyone in the big 4? Sure - that's significant enough to look closer maybe.

    I just think you are giving too much importance to things that won't move the needle much in the Crosby vs big 4 analysis. The gap is big.
     
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  3. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    I think the problem stems from this: Terry Sawchuk is the gold standard. He dominated the position like Bill Durnan, but at a younger age, so he's three championships deep before his 26th birthday, riding the best combination of individual and team success we would see from a goaltender until the 1970s. So at this point (1955), he's already the best ever, and even though each subsequent season doesn't live up to his peak, he and Plante end up with enough longevity to not really be challenged for that title for quite some time. But they (Sawchuk, Plante, Durnan, Hall) are still not quite seen as Howe, Richard, Beliveau, Hull - so even back then, a goaltender might not be #5.

    Then the Hockey Gods give us more exceptional skaters in Orr, Gretzky, and Lemieux - so unless there's some serious re-evaluation relative to these goaltenders' contemporaries, there's at least 7 names (maybe 9, depending on how you see Morenz and Shore) that go above the top goaltender, even though the position has proven less likely to have generational talents.

    Which goaltender do the Hockey Gods give us (in lieu of an Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux)? Ken Dryden. Maybe not the icon that Terry Sawchuk is, but just like Sawchuk, the individual success and team success is immediate, and he's winning a disgusting amount of games. But he starts later in life because of college and the big money isn't there yet, so he's too smart to keep getting hit by pucks and the best chance for a Big Five goaltender leaves hockey, leaving the O6 goaltenders as the high watermark going into the 1990s.

    Enter Roy, Hasek, and Brodeur. Roy and Brodeur have their streaks of five-consecutive All-Star selections in the regular season, but they're still not peak Sawchuk in the regular season. Hasek is more in that Durnan/Sawchuk regular season mould, but he's hit or literally miss in the playoffs and the major injuries add up (1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000...). Hasek's case seems to be aging especially well on the internet as hockey card statistics don't count how many times the third-string goaltender had to dress 20 years ago.

    All three end up with good cases for these kinds of discussions being maybe the best goaltender, but for the best to default to #5 overall, I can't help but think that a line of thought like this might be aided by the fact that we had to go so long after Terry Sawchuk to learn just how rare a Terry Sawchuk was (back to Morenz/Shore, the appreciation in the moment vs. the appreciation after recognizing 50 years later what was a unicorn and what was a truly fine horse wearing a cone on his head). That is to say, I think the world is in a better situation with enough established history to appreciate a Hasek now in comparisons versus guys like Beliveau, Richard, Hull, Harvey, and others than the world was during Sawchuk's run when people probably wouldn't have believed that it would get much better than Howe/Harvey - unaware that an Orr or Gretzky could exist.

    Where Roy becomes a legitimately strong #5 candidate - separate from having maybe the best goaltending career (one more in-line with Plante's consistency than Sawchuk's concentrated excellence) - is that he is also a reasonable alternative to Wayne Gretzky around this time of the year.
     
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  4. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Well presented.

    Unasked and unanswered question is how are goalies from the single goalie era to be evaluated against goalies from the two goalie era? Especially given that in the one goalie era, they played 4 games in 5 nights a couple of times a year while regularly playing 3 in 4. Such scheduling is no longer possible thanks to the CBA.
     
  5. daver

    daver Registered User

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    If Crosby is still the man at age 34 - 35 thru a combo of regular season and playoff success, which would be older than Wayne was still the man (sans Mario), and for a longer period than Howe was the man, that should have some value. Here is what that value may be:

    - Viewed as the #5 player by the majority

    - The unquestioned #5 player

    - opened the door to a discussion of whether it should be the Big Five

    - makes it the Big 5

    The last two would require a changing of traditional evaluating that Crosby may force upon the hockey nerds. He has been elite from Day 1, had the most successful start to his career in terms of playoff performances and Cups, and is now close to becoming the Belliveau of his era or even better. If he keeps on winning, what else do you want from him? Maybe he got a taste of that so early in his career that it became his focus rather than going full out in the regular season.
     
  6. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Again,you always do it. Spell Beliveau correctly.
     
  7. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    You're giving this too much importance. It's subjective. It's also very contingent on competition during a player's peak/prime, which changes from 1 all time great to the next and needs to be put into the proper context.

    It's a really cool feat from Crosby, no doubt. And it's one of the main reasons he's in the discussion for top 5-10 all time. But all of a sudden going from 13 to 14 or even 15 such seasons means very little. If he was going from 6 years as best player to 14? Ok huge difference. 13 years to 20? Sure, big deal. 13 to 14? That's in the margin of error. Means nothing. Even if you decided that 13 is the # Howe or Gretzky has, and 14 somehow moves Crosby past them in that count.

    Crosby has less hardware than Hull. Or Mikita? Or Esposito? The fact that he's been the best player in the world for so long (or consistency elite if some people don't like the terminology "best player in the world") is what brings Crosby up to and maybe past their level, despite being behind in hardware.

    You can't also use that to now say "well - it's now also enough to unanimously become #5".

    It's not as significant or important as you think.
     
  8. Kyle McMahon

    Kyle McMahon Registered User

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    Indeed, offense produced is of course only one half of the equation. Detroit limited both Montreal and Toronto to 1 goal or fewer in three times in each series. The games played at the Forum were the only ones in which Detroit seemingly had issues defending.
     
  9. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Blake was the master of the last change even in his first year.Improved afterwards.
     
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  10. Kyle McMahon

    Kyle McMahon Registered User

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    The motives behind Toronto's defensive approach are not particularly important. They were difficult to score against in the 1954-55 season, period. Now, if you want to point out that Tim Horton was injured and missed the playoffs, this is a valid reason as to why their defensive prowess may require a deeper examination to fully quantify.

    Expecting Howe, or any player, to score a specific number of points against one opponent based entirely on an extrapolation of their points scored against another, is odd. There could be any variety of reasons why Howe scored fewer points per game against Montreal than against Toronto.

    Crosby is not being measured by only one series, nor is Howe. The whole body of work is being evaluated. But certainly you can see why a relatively poor performance in the Stanley Cup Final could put a player behind the eight ball in a comparison to somebody with an extremely strong Final.

    It's not "needing" to do anything, simply an examination of all factors that contributed to a player's overall performance. That said, we are trying to sort out the absolute best of the best playoff runs. A player can't control his opponents, but surely winning the Cup and playing strong in the decisive series would be prerequisites to somebody's claim to have had one of the very best playoffs ever.

    You seem to have inadvertently raised the possibility that Beliveau and Mikita may have a playoff run that could compare to Gretzky, Lemieux, and Orr's best run. Frankly, it's not outlandish at all. The relative brevity of the playoffs and completely different schedule/format for success compared to the regular season easily allows for this possibility.
     
  11. Merya

    Merya Jokerit & Finland

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    If anyone breaks one of Gretzky's major records, they are going to be #5. Those numbers are so high, that you can't call them compiling. As for longevity, thats why Howe is there. Ovy, if he would hit 900, would have longevity and hardware to be there even without any postseason success.
    Don't worry, he won't get there. Your adverse reaction tho shows something that gives me bad vibes.
     
  12. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Ovechkin has 607 goals at age 32.

    Let's say he plays through age 39. 7 more seasons. Let's also pretend he adds no significant post season success nor anymore Rockets.

    He could score 45 goals average next 4 years
    40 goals 2 years after that
    35 goals 2 years after that
    30 goals at 39

    Thats put him at 967 career goals. Too high estimates?

    He could score 40 goal average next 4 years
    He could score 35 goals next 2 years
    He could score 30 goals next 2 years
    He could score 25 goals at 39

    922 career goals.

    900 career goals isn't that big of a stretch. He's wall on his way. 50/50 chance if he plays long enough I think.

    Gretzky scored 894 career goals. That's a great number and all but for Gretzky it's almost underwhelming. His second half to his career he was very much below average as a goal scorer. That's one record that is 100% attainable by Ovechkin. As it would have been by Lemieux.

    If Brett Hull had started out his career in the NHL at 18 instead of 23 he very well might be above 894 now.

    So no - topping 900 goals alone would not move someone to #5. It would be a hell of an accomplishment and certainly raise their stock a lot - but he needs more.
     
  13. JackSlater

    JackSlater Registered User

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    Ovechkin is in the same boat as Crosby. Barring a miraculous late career peak he has no chance to join Gretzky and company. It's possible, as it is for Crosby, that he could become number five, but if either of those guys is number five then there is going to be a sizable gap between four and five.
     
  14. Kyle McMahon

    Kyle McMahon Registered User

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    The 55 Habs were 20 goals better than the league average defensively (in only a 70 game schedule). The 09 Capitals were 6 goals worse than average. The Habs were 23 GA worse than the league leader, the Capitals were 49 GA worse (slightly longer, 82 GP). These teams are not comparable defensively, either statistically or by common sense.

    You're back into hypotheticals of trying to shoehorn teams from one era into another and imagining what playoff seed they would be, etc. The offensive production of the players in question can be evaluated for what it was in real life under real conditions.
     
  15. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Love Ovechkin, but it's not gonna happen.
    It'd be great for the game if Ovechkin could do it... but it's not gonna happen.
    It's quite true that Gretzky slowed down (hugely) as a goal-scorer in the second half of his career. His final 10 years, he's 39th in NHL goals-scored. But this isn't unusual for goal-scorers after 10 full seasons. In Gretzky's case, I would say two factors -- (i) his self-preservation (i.e. no longer wanting to go into the danger-areas), and (b) wear-and-tear of mileage -- slowed down his goal-scoring. His back was injured often c.1990 to 1992, and after that maybe he didn't want to put the body on the line as much.

    But he was still essentially a 40-goal scorer until 1994, after 15 NHL seasons. Fifteen nearly full seasons (minus half of 1992-93) and six runs to the Finals is A LOT OF MILEAGE.
    I don't think so. Starting your NHL career later and having way less mileage than someone like Gretzky (see also: Bossy, Trottier), it stands to reason you'll be able to maintain a prime-level of play into a later age. If Brett Hull had played the same role on an NHL team that he played c.1995 right from 1984 onward, I guess he'd have been injured/burned-out by about 1997 or something. In Lemieux's case, he only played one season past April from 1984 to 1990. Comparing Wayne and Mario, by their mid-20s Gretzky had about two full NHL seasons' more under his belt than Lemieux at the same age (18-year-old season plus playoff games). Also, Mario was already slowing down in production in 1989-90 before he was injured. Lemieux did have the situation of his teammates getting more offensively-talented as his career progressed, which helped him maintain a scoring pace (though in 1995-96 he was incredible dependent on power-plays for points, an advantage you don't usually get in the playoffs, which his playoff stats bear out). Mario dropped 40 points from 1996 to 1997, and then he quit at age 30 before his physical decline.


    The most impressive thing about Ovechkin -- and Crosby has commented on this as well -- is how he is able to keep bringing the goals, year after year. I think today's goal-scorers have one advantage over guys of 15+ years ago, which is that it's now relatively safe and easy to stand or skate near the front of the net. Scoring is less physically dangerous today than it has probably ever been in NHL history (in fact, it's easier today than it was in Ovechkin's first handful of seasons). This fact will perhaps help him maintain an impressive pace through the next few seasons, but... he won't be able to catch Gretzky.

    At this point, I honestly doubt Ovechkin cares about such a record anyway. He knows his legacy is partly coming down to whether or not his team has any championship-level success.
     
  16. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    Besides the big four. What players do you truly think we're better players than Crosby?

    His resume is a unique mixture of team and individual awards. Literally the perfect career and this is even with his peak taken from him

    Crosby is the 5th best player of all time. Really think about it. If you could draft any player besides the big four your taking Sid.
     
  17. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    You said no to my first scenario about Ovechkin scoring till age 39, but my second scenario is a slightly lower estimate. I don't think it's that far fetched. The elements needed are:

    Health (flip a coin - but so far so good)
    Longevity (don't retire early - and Ovi seems like the type who likes chasing individual records, so if he's in the running good chance he plays long)
    Consistency (and not even Gordie Howe like consistency - if he ages like a Brett Hull or so as a goal scorer might be enough, maybe a bit more). Again so far so good, it'll depend on how quick or slow he declines.

    I don't disagree with the rest. Not blaming Gretzky for slowing down, but the point is he did slow down a LOT in the 2nd half as a goal scorer, which makes this record more attainable. If he had maintained his goal-scoring pace of his first 10 years into his last 20, the record isn't 894 it's over 1250 goals. THAT would be unreachable by anyone ever. 894 isn't all that unrealistic imo.

    Maybe you're right that Brett Hull if he starts at 18 doesn't hit it. Playing more he might retire earlier, etc. But he still would have come quite close. And this is Brett Hull - fantastic goal scorer, but no one usually considers him top 5 even. So yeah I think 900 with proper longevity for Ovechkin is a possibility. Maybe less than 50% chance it happens, maybe like a 20% chance, but it's still quite possible.
     
  18. daver

    daver Registered User

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    I agree that a great SCF can override a great playoff run when overall production is similar. In comparing Howe '55 to Crosby in '09, kudos to Howe for having the better finals but, IMO, kudos to Crosby for being better in the non-finals games. In the most highly anticipated and watched series of the era against his main rival, Crosby dominated.

    If we just want to focus on the SCF, Crosby, along with Hossa, were the clear best on their team in '08, similar to Howe/Lindsay in '55, vs. the #1 defensive team in the league. But of course that was a losing effort so it doesn't count. In 2016, Crosby played very well along with others similar to Howe in '51. I would say those two playoff runs overall are very similar. In 2017, Crosby was the clear best player for the Pens in the SCF, arguably better than Gordie was in '56. Crosby's '09 SCF would seem to be pretty similar to Howe's '54 SCF.

    In the context of looking at their first 13 seasons, I would give Crosby the edge given that he has been the Pens best player in three of their four Cup runs, and in their 4th run, he put up the era's 2nd best point total and highest goal total. It is not a stretch to say that he has four Smythe-worthy runs, can we say the same for Howe?
     
  19. daver

    daver Registered User

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    Here is my issue:

    You want to establish facts about specific performances vs. different levels of an opponent's defensive ability, based not on their actual playoff defensive performance, while ignoring the overall strength of an opponent. But when Howe's performance doesn't live up to the standard you are applying to Crosby, all of a sudden the facts don't matter as much.

    I will stand by contention that Crosby has a statistically superior resume vs. Howe over their first 13 seasons. The eye test does not see Howe dominating the playoffs in a manner that is befitting his regular season peak the same way that Wayne, Mario and Orr clearly did. Other non-Big 4 players clearly have as good a case as Howe for best playoff run outside of the Big 3.

    I think Howe is in the Top 4 best playoff performer of all-time, all things considered, including the context of "who would you want on your team for the playoffs" by the end of his career. IMO, Crosby has a great opportunity to keep pace, or even surpass him.
     
  20. daver

    daver Registered User

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    Assuming that teams played to their regular season level of defensive abilities in any given playoff series is worse.

    My starting point is to let their numbers speak for themselves with reasonable statistical consideration for trying to compare a 2 round playoff to a 4 round playoff.

    You are the looking to introduce context and narrative to support a "Howe's playoff best is up there with the other Big 4's playoff best".
     
  21. BigBadBruins7708

    BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    Beliveau, Esposito, Hasek, Shore, Rocket, Bobby Hull...that's my list

    I have Crosby in the 9-11 spot all time, as of today.

    Is he tracking towards being 5th? Sure.
    Is he there this very minute? No
     
  22. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    You'd draft Eddie shore over Crosby? Come on now.
     
  23. BigBadBruins7708

    BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    4 Harts
    would have 5+ Norris trophies if it existed back then
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    yes, Shore is above Crosby right now.
     
  24. Ageless

    Ageless Registered User

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    Center>>> and no shore is not above Crosby. That's grand nostalgia talking.
     
  25. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    Asking "who you draft 5th all time" isn't always the same as 5th best player.

    The big 4 are so above everyone else you of course pick them first in whatever order.

    But an argument can be made to draft based on positional needs 5th. So a Roy/Hasek if you want consistency in nets. Or Bourque/Lidstrom if you want a defender with longevity/consistency.
     

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