Joe Thornton and the playoffs

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by vadim sharifijanov, May 25, 2011.

  1. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    on the canucks board, thornton is getting a lot of respect for how he played this year. that wasn't the joe thornton everyone has been bashing for so long. not only did he play great and was easily the most dangerous shark all series, but he seemed like a heart and soul leader too, especially playing with a separated shoulder after the torres hit.

    i'm curious among fans who may not have followed the series as close as we all did. obviously he is still lacking a cup, but has he shed his choker label now?
     
  2. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    He still has a very poor playoff record, relative to his regular season performances.
     
  3. finchster

    finchster Registered User

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    Thornton has to win it all one year or have 2-3 more playoff preformances like this one to shed that label
     
  4. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Agree. This was a good performance, but he needs a few more like it.
     
  5. buffalowing88

    buffalowing88 Registered User

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    I fully expect that to happen. This Sharks team is looking an awful lot like the late 90's Wings teams who emerged from the depths of being chokers into perennial contenders. The emergence of guys like Pavelski, Couture, and Setoguchi will stand to help. Not sure about where Marleau and Heatley stand in the teams future, but the Sharks will give Thornton many more opportunities to shine in the playoffs.

    But anyways, I don't see Jumbo as a choker, I see him as a guy prone to being snakebitten but never lacking in the heart department.
     
  6. Blades of Glory

    Blades of Glory Troll Captain

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    Thornton's career arc so far is eerily similar to that of Steve Yzerman.

    If you look at Yzerman's career through the age of 30, it is almost identical to Thornton in the same time span. Detroit did reach the Cup Finals in 1995, but that was completely because of Fedorov and Coffey. Yzerman was not healthy and Fedorov dominated with minimal help from him. The following year, at age 30, Yzerman had his first outstanding playoff run, but once again, the Wings fell short and he had only 3 assists in the 6 games against Colorado. Thornton was 30 last season, and he had his "breakout" playoff run leading the Sharks to the WCF. Thornton was the sole reason they got there, with 9 points in 5 games against Detroit, but he was brutal against Chicago and it cost the Sharks.

    It was at age 31 that Yzerman fully committed himself to being a two-way player that Scotty Bowman wanted him to be, and Detroit finally did get over the hump. Thornton turned 31 before this season, and turned himself into a legitimately strong defensive forward. This postseason, he showed me a side of him that I had never seen. Pierre Lebrun made a comment about Thornton showing an Yzerman-like dedication this postseason. Until the Sharks win the Cup, he will always have that hanging over him. But after watching him play 33 minutes and take 7 shots on goal with a separated shoulder, I am more confident in this team than I ever have been.

    One thing that should be said is that Yzerman had the luxury of having a dominant force like Fedorov to take some of the burden off him. Thornton gets a bad rap for his past playoffs with the Sharks. Go look at the rosters of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Sharks. Until two years ago, Thornton was the Sharks' offense. He had crap for wingers and it allowed opposing teams to close on him with a double team knowing that no other forward could do anything unless he set them up. Thornton has had two truly bad playoff series as a Shark. The 2009 first round loss to Anaheim, and last year against Chicago. He has never been a "choker". I'd like to see what any other center in the league could do in the playoffs with the Sharks' supporting cast prior to 2009.
     
  7. andreydali19

    andreydali19 They're relentless

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    Asking cause you might have a point, but would you deem Thornton's 10-11 postseasons more or less comparable to Stevie Y's 87-88 postseasons? Both were involved in all-out impressive runs that still squeaked out a win (at least once) against the league's arguably most dangerous team (despite the latter captain's limited play the second year).
     
  8. Hardyvan123

    Hardyvan123 [email protected]

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    He shook that label last year he is a far ways away from the player he was in 04 when he went donut with a minus 6 in 7 games as a 24 year old player. (that's where he got the label)

    Since then from 06 playoff up until this year he is 9th in scoring, 3rd in assists.

    http://www.hockey-reference.com/pla...val=&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&order_by=points

    Sure he hasn't been the best player in the playoffs, far from it but he has shed his choker label.

    Thorton is the classic example of a player who gets criticized for what he isn't and not for what he is.

    He is more Bobby Smith and less Lemiuex (or pick another dominant big man) and that's not a bad thing.
     
  9. Hardyvan123

    Hardyvan123 [email protected]

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    Great post and insight here especially the end.

    Context and having support is so important for any player even a guy like Gretzky who never won a Cup after Edmonton.

    For those who demand a Cup win for being a good playoff performer in a 30 team league is asking way too much as some players will get a choker label and not really deserve it IMO.

    Thorton has led the Sharks to the 2nd round in 5 of the last 6 years which is pretty darn good IMO.
     
  10. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    Thornton's problem is his style of play. People will always be suspicious of big guys who don't play a big game. He's done more of it this year but he has been hesitant to apply physical force.

    It's a somewhat flawed view but people forgive players for playoff failures more readily if the players are visibly fighting for their team and I don't mean fisticuffs. Especially big guys are scrutinized like that.
     
  11. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Bobby Smith? In the regular season, Thornton has been a he'll of a lot better than that. Which is where the criticism comes from.
     
  12. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    The problem with labels is that once they're applied, they're very difficult to remove, to some people at least. Regardless of how well he performs in the future, there's a segment of hockey fans who will always think "Joe Thornton -> choker" because that's the impression they formed of him early on, and they don't pay enough attention subsequent to that to change it, regardless of what evidence there might be to the contrary.

    Labels like this are useless anyway. They're generally a lazy replacement for actual analysis.
     
  13. finchster

    finchster Registered User

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    Since the lock out Thornton is second in NHL scoring and third in PPG. Being 9th in scoring in that time and a ppg below 1, still disapointing no matter how you cut it.
     
  14. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    thanks for the discussion. very interesting things have been said.

    i'd add that i don't think it's just the point disparity between regular season and playoffs that has brought down thornton in the eyes of many. and it's not just that he has been guilty at times of being a big man playing a smaller man's game.

    i think people-- rightly-- compare joe to the player that he was early on in boston, when he was a force of nature. some guys can be forgiven because they don't have it in them, they just don't have a mean streak. john leclair is one example. but with joe it is there somewhere but it doesn't come out a lot. even this year against the canucks, he was gritty, he worked hard, he hit guys and took hits to make plays, but he wasn't the little lindros that people see as his ceiling.

    i once read an article about cory cross getting booed out of toronto. the idea was you have all these guys watching hockey who grew up playing hockey who think, "if i was six inches taller and fifty pounds heavier, i would have made it to the NHL." so you see this pylon of a defenseman, who isn't very coordinated, doesn't play as physically as he should given his size, and they turned on him. like he was given this physical gift of being 6'4", 130 pounds and he didn't appreciate it enough to take full advantage, like the guys who booed him presumably would have. seems like a similar situation with thornton. certainly, at the end of bertuzzi's run in vancouver, when he was a perimeter player (even before the steve moore incident), people were completely up in arms that he could physically dominate a game but would rather skate around the perimeter with one hand on his stick and try to make no-look behind-the-back passes to naslund.
     
  15. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Coaching.

    The history of hockey has proven time and again that inappropriate or inadequate coaching will negate the efforts of solid to excellent teams and superstars. Boston with Bobby Orr being a prime example.

    Steve Yzerman became a much better play-off performer with Scotty Bowman coaching. Joe Thornton after his formative seasons in Boston, never had good coaches in the playoffs. Especially true in San Jose since the lost season where he has never played for a coach that could out-manage the opposition when it came to line changes, player use or exploiting opposition weaknesses.
     
  16. toob

    toob Registered User

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    maybe if you narrowly look at playoff circumstances they faced
    and for Yzerman only a subset of his mid career playoff experiences

    see the example of the 87 playoffs which he played great
    more defensively than offensively too ive read
    for those who oversimplistically bifurcate his career

    they are otherwise quite different players
    not to mention Thornton isnt in Stevie's class

    more like age 29...
    Bowman changed the team style after the early loss in 94
    it was first on Yzerman to sell this shift to team D to his teammates
    and he made the biggest personal sacrifice on the team to do it

    Yzerman was a 2nd or 3rd checking line center in 95 and 96
    his wingers at even strength were generally checkers
    usually Bob Errey and Doug Brown and Darren McCarty
    less so Sheppard and Ciccarelli (at even strength)
    he was more deserving of the Selke than Feds those years

    a lot larger percentage of his points came on the pp than before
    as his even strength points plummeted because of his defensive role
    (also due to injuries and age though)

    he got his offensive first line job back only in 97
    after Feds stopped scoring and Shanny arrived

    mostly agreed here
    the perception of Thornton as a choker is generally overexaggerated
    to the worst degree on hfboards but thats not surprising :sarcasm:
    people judge players by their numbers
    and Thornton's stats are skewed by the 04 run where he was hurt

    i thought he also played really well in 07 against the Wings
    until my man Robert Lang scored that late tying game 4 goal :3
    after that the Sharks just deflated Thornton no exception
    but if not for clutch Lang Sharks prolly win the series
    doubt they beat the Ducks but Thornton certainly looks better
     
  17. seventieslord

    seventieslord Student Of The Game

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    Basically, he had a really good playoff and it helps his case accordingly. It represents about 15% of his total playoff resume, though, so the past still outweighs it.
     
  18. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    He still has a lot of work to do. He did play well in the playoffs this year, but I just always get the feeling that Joe SHOULD be a guy who takes the bull by the horns sometime in his career and carries the team on his back. It is weird he hasn't done that yet after 14 years in the NHL. We've yet to see a true dominating performance from him (including 2011) where he is a force to be reckoned with. I know he can do it. Based on all of his physical and mental tools at his disposal, I can never understand why Joe hasn't been a freak of nature in the postseason yet
     
  19. pappyline

    pappyline Registered User

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    Don't understand the hate some posters on this forum have for Joe Thornton. No matter what he does it is never enough for some of these guys.

    As far As i am concerned, Joe did carry that team on his back this playoff. His performance in that 7th game against Detroit was incredible. He played like a man on a mission.

    This choker label is crap. Any game I have watched him in, he gives a 100%.

    Its time this foolishness stops. Hockey is a team game & Joe is a team player.
     
  20. Hardyvan123

    Hardyvan123 [email protected]

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    Most players overall production goes down in the playoffs, at least a bit as goals are harder to come by. I'm sure someone has a table for this but my guess is that over 60% of all players production is reduced in the playoffs, even among top players.

    Thorton has been better the comp was more their overall impact both playoffs and regular season.
    Both were also big men top number 1 picks overall and better play makers than scorers. Also I think "more" was expected from both players as well.

    Fully agree here, only the select few, and I mean few, ever live up totally to expectations of being a number 1 pick and a big man as was suggested in Phil's post.


    Why can't we judge Thorton on what he is, instead of what we expected or wanted him to be?
     
  21. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I think it is more along the lines of the discrepancy of his regular season caliber vs. his postseason caliber.

    Regular season PPG: 1.01
    Postseason PPG: 0.75

    It's more of a drop then you would want to see. Had he had more of the caliber of postseasons that he had in 2011 then we aren't having this conversation. But he hasn't. He is also -28 in his playoff career for those that care about that stat. I think it's fair to say that we would want to see Joe have a Gilmour-1993 type of playoff year. There isn't a reason why he couldn't have by now, but I myself have also made the career comparison on the same curve as Yzerman so let's just wait and see. That being said, Joe isn't an utter disapointment in the mold of Yashin, Tkachuk or even Keith Primeau but you'd expect a little more out of a Hart winner
     
  22. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    The truth is that if you've watched Joe Thornton in the playoffs, you see him not going into the spots where it hurts, you see him get outbattled by smaller guys. He was much better this year than in the past but still, Datsyuk and Zetterberg were playing harder and yes battling harder with both being considerably smaller than Thornton.

    I don't think it's necessarily a problem with Thornton's play as long as he scores enough but it looks really bad if he doesn't.
     
  23. connellc

    connellc Registered User

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    I disagree with this. When it came to Pavel Datsyuk, he was known as a playoff choker, but as soon as he started to elevate his play and, ultimately, bring the Wings to the cup in 2008, the label was quickly shed and almost forgotten about. In addition to this, he's still being a monster in the playoffs. Winning the cup certainly helps. He needs to put a couple more performance like this, and get the ring.
     
  24. Hardyvan123

    Hardyvan123 [email protected]

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    That Doug Gilmour type of season has happen exactly 8 times since 1981 by 5 different guys.

    The bar you are trying to set is simply too high to be reasonable IMO.

    Since Joe has been in the league the NHL playoff scoring leader has scored between 18 and 28 points except for 2 times when Briere Scored 30 and Malkin scored 36. The average has been about 26 or 27 points. And all of those players made it to the final round as well.

    http://www.hockey-reference.com/leaders/points_season_p.html
     
  25. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    Can we let Marcel Dionne off the hook now, too?
     

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