Conference No. 2 Final Discussion Thread: Montreal Canadiens Vs. Trail Smoke Eaters

Discussion in 'All Time Draft' started by God Bless Canada, Dec 18, 2006.

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  1. God Bless Canada

    God Bless Canada Registered User

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    The Montreal Canadiens and the Trail Smoke Eaters will face each other in the Jim Coleman Conference Final. Both teams were ranked No. 1 in their respective divisions, and both teams defeated the No. 2 seed in the division in the division final. Montreal knocked off Spartak Moscow in five games, while the Smoke Eaters edged the Nanaimo Clippers in a tough seven-game series.

    TRAIL SMOKE EATERS


    Coach: Dick Irvin Sr.
    Captain: King Clancy
    Alternates: Trevor Linden, Tim Horton, Ron Francis

    #27 Frank Mahovlich-#21 Ron Francis-#10 Guy LaFleur
    #19 Toe Blake-#12 Joe Primeau-#22 Rick Tocchet
    #25 Vincent Damphousse-#18 Ralph Backstrom-#15 John MacLean
    #9 Esa Tikkanen-#11 Kirk Muller-#16 Trevor Linden
    #24 Mickey Redmond

    #3 J.C. Tremblay-#2 Tim Horton
    #7 King Clancy-#8 Terry Harper
    #6 Harry Cameron-#5 Bill Barilko
    #4 Gary Bergman

    #31 Grant Fuhr
    #1 Lorne Chabot
    #30 Sean Burke​


    MONTREAL CANADIENS


    Coach: Tommy Ivan

    Paul Kariya - Adam Oates - Gordie Howe
    Johnny Bucyk - Doug Gilmour - Peter Bondra
    Dean Prentice - Hooley Smith - Bobby Rousseau
    Ryan Smyth - Doug Risebrough - Stan Smyl
    Brad Richards

    Sprague Cleghorn - Brad Park
    Chris Chelios - Jim Schoenfeld
    Stefan Persson - Charlie Huddy
    Ted Harris

    Johnny Bower
    Gump Worsley
    Mike Liut​
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2006
  2. God Bless Canada

    God Bless Canada Registered User

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    I'll save my thorough insights for later. But much like Trail's last series, this will pit two very evenly matched teams. Both teams have edges, but neither team has a really big-time edge as you look through the rosters.

    I think this series will come down to whose defensive stalward LW can shut down the opposition's top RW. If Esa Tikkanen thought he had it tough in the last series, playing against Charlie Conacher, he'll be wishing for seven more games from "The Big Bomber" after he's through with two against Gordie Howe. Tikkanen successfully shadowed the best player of his time, Wayne Gretzky, in the 1990 and 1991 playoffs. He'll need to be at his best to contain Howe, in our assessment the best all-round forward to ever play the game.

    In the same breath, Montreal will need an excellent performance from Dean Prentice against Guy LaFleur. Prentice will have to be at his best to contain the Flower, who is likely quicker and more explosive than Howe, but not as powerful or savvy.

    Both star RWs will get their chances and their points. The difference will come down to whose RW does the most against the opponent's shut down LW.
     
  3. God Bless Canada

    God Bless Canada Registered User

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    GOALTENDING: Montreal. Very, very tough call. Fuhr and Bower were by no means all-time great regular season goalies, but they were outstanding in the playoffs. There are two reasons I give a slight edge to Montreal: 1) If Bower had slipped to my pick in the sixth round, I would have taken him ahead of Fuhr (again, not by much); and 2) Worsley is better than Chabot. One thing that is certain is that with Bower and Fuhr involved, one-goal leads will be safe for both teams.

    DEFENCE: Montreal. It's a common refrain: Montreal has the edge in terms of the top three, Trail has the edge in terms of depth. But as long as Park-Chelios-Claguehorn are healthy and disciplined, they'll play 80 to 90 minutes per game, so depth isn't an issue. Montreal doesn't have as big of an edge in terms of 1-2-3 punch in this series as they did against Moscow, but it's still an edge. Trail's No. 4 (Cameron) is definitely better than Montreal's No. 4 (Scheonfeld), and I like Trail's No. 5 and 6 (Harper and Barilko/Bergman) more than Huddy/Persson. We're used to seeing Trail with an edge in terms of overall defensive play, with their pair of two-way lines and Francis, but it's not going to happen in this series. Montreal has lots of defensive forwards.

    OFFENCE: Trail. It's not much of an edge, but it's an edge. Montreal has the best player in the series, Gordie Howe, but Trail has the better offence. He might be on the second line, but Primeau is likely the best offensive centre in the series, and Trail has the two best offensive LWs in the series - Mahovlich and Blake. They also have a 1,200-point LW on the two-way line. Montreal has two well-built scoring lines, with the exception of Bondra, who's better suited to being the third liner on a team that rotates three scoring lines. Expect to see Smith or Rousseau move up into that role at some point in the series. Both teams rotate a pair of two-way lines, but they can get points from those two lines, especially Smyth on the power play for Montreal. Trail's other edge is offence from the blue line, with Clancy, Cameron, Tremblay and Horton more offensively potent than Park, Claghorn and Chelios.

    COACHING: Trail. This is the Smokies most significant edge. If they're going to win this series, they need Irvin and his array of tactics up his sleeve. Irvin's going to need strategies to counteract Howe, and the all-round strengths of the Canadiens. Tommy Ivan isn't exactly the easiest bench boss to outcoach, either.

    GRIT: Montreal. I'm starting to get annoyed with all these teams that have a grit edge. Montreal's team has lots of grit up front. Bondra, Kariya and Bucyk are the only non-gritty forwards for the Habs. Can't say the same about Trail. Montreal has two of the best power forwards ever in Smith and Howe. Interesting to see Gilmour, Francis and Gilmour in this series, since they're fairly similar players: gifted playmakers who were excellent defensively and strong in the faceoff circle. Both teams have a lot of toughness and heart on the blue line.

    INTANGIBLES: Trail. Trail is likely the best remaining team when it comes to intangibles. But much like their previous series against Nanaimo, Trail doesn't boast an overwhelming edge when it comes to intangibles. Both teams have a lot of players with a lot of rings, a lot of players who know what it takes to win, and a lot of good leaders. One edge that Langley has is they don't have a Bondra or a Kariya - a player who has zero rings and a bit of a spotty playoff record. Linden for Trail and Park for Montreal don't have a ring, but they do have a track record for playing their best hockey when it matters most.

    MARQUEE MATCHUP: Already covered.

    MARQUEE MATCHUP II: Trail versus fatigue. The Smokies just wrapped up a very demanding series versus Nanaimo. Montreal was the only team that didn't need seven games to win - particularly important for a team that leans so much on their Big 3 on defence. Trail's going to have a tough time in this series. It's going to be even tougher against a team with so much grit. If there's one thing going for them, Trail has a lot of players with a lot of resiliency and character.
     
  4. Nalyd Psycho

    Nalyd Psycho Registered User

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    One interesting point from another thread was how Clancy would often be key to Toronto beating Boston in the playoffs because he could get under Shore's skin and cause bad penalties. The same could come to fruition against Cleghorn and Chelios. And this is key because to me, many of GBC's listed edges are really washes. Coaching, too close to call, intangibles is an edge for sure, but the real edge Trail has is a powerplay that would be increadibly impressive, one of the best in the tournament.
     
  5. Hockey Outsider

    Hockey Outsider Registered User

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    GBC, this will be a great battle. I don’t see a glaring weakness in my team or yours and we both have a lot of playoff warriors.

    Bower was quite a bit better than Fuhr in the regular season, but the gap narrows in the playoffs. Both were consistent, reliable and were known to make big saves. Bower has a Conn Smythe (albeit a retroaspective one) and had somewhat better stats, leading the playoffs in GAA and save percentage three times. Bower should be more in his comfort zone as the Leafs of the 60’s, like my Canadiens, were strong defensively (both in terms of forwards and defensemen). I also agree that Worsley is better than Chabot.

    Agreed. I have the better 1-2-3 punch and GBC has better depth in the 4-5-6 spots. Having the two best defensemen in the series should allow me to control the tempo of the games. Since my team won the last series in less than 7 games, the big three should be fairly well rested and I should be able to play them 90 minutes per game so depth becomes less of an issue.

    We both have a lot of strong two-way forwards. I’d give myself the edge on the third line (Prentice and Rousseau were consistently among the best defensive forwards of their era; Damphousse and MacLean were strong but never among the best in the league) and GBC a slight edge on the fourth line.

    Agreed. The offense is close but I’d give your team a slight edge. I have the edge on the right wing: Howe was a better scorer than Lafleur. Bondra and Rousseau, in their primes, were among the top five goal-scorers and playmakers, respectively in the league (Tocchet and MacLean were more consistent and less dominant). Our centres are very close (Francis/Gilmour and Primeau/Oates are very even, and Smith probably gives me an edge). You have the advantage on LW, though.

    You get the slight edge on offense from defensemen. Clancy is the best offensive defenseman in the series, but Horton/Tremblay/Cameron and Park/Chelios/Cleghorn are about even. I’d get a bit more offense from my depth positions though, as Huddy and Persson were excellent puckmovers while Harper and Barilko were not.


    Coaching is very close. Irvin certainly has the edge in longevity. Irvin won 4 Cups in 27 seasons; Ivan won 3 Cups in 9 seasons. Ivan has a much better record in the finals (3-2 vs 4-12). Also, in their two Stanley Cup final meetings, Ivan’s team by Irvin’s both times (1952 and 1954) so Ivan has proved he can come up with strategies to shut down an Irvin-coached team. Irvin was also known for sometimes letting his teams get too violent or play with too much of an edge; that strategy wouldn’t work here as Cleghorn and Chelios would not react favorably.

    Agreed.

    Agreed again. It’s hard to argue with your team’s 70 Cups. Neither of our teams have very much real-life chemistry, but it shouldn’t matter much by this point.

    I agree with you about the marquee matchup. Howe is definitely better than Lafleur but (despite the latter being very underrated) Tiikanen is better than Prentice.

    In terms of the discipline issue… I think some of you are overrating Cleghorn’s recklessness. He led the league in PIM just once in his career and was in the top five 4 times overall. Compare that to, say, Eddie Shore… he also led the league in PIM once but was in the top five 6 times, and nobody has said anything about discipline issues for him. I agree that GBC’s defense is more disciplined than mine, but mine isn’t remotely a major weakness.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2006
  6. shawnmullin

    shawnmullin Registered User

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    I put Trail ahead at forward and at defense, but I like Bower significantly more than Fuhr in terms of game stealing ability. Both are pressure goaltenders, but Bower stands quite a bit above Fuhr to me in terms of overall game. Plus I really like Montreal's 2nd ahead of Trail's.

    The question is how much can Bower outperform Fuhr, and is it enough to make up for the slight edge Trail has elsewhere.

    I'm rushed, more detail later.
     

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