Serge Savard vs. Guy Lapointe

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Hockey Outsider, Jun 24, 2007.

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  1. Hockey Outsider

    Hockey Outsider Registered User

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    Who is the better player, Serge Savard or Guy Lapointe? Here's my analysis.

    Offense. Lapointe is clearly the better offensive player (especially goal-scoring); he was a catalyst on the Habs' powerplay and had one of the best slapshots in the league. Both had good breakout passes; Lapointe was a much better rusher. Savard scored more than 50 points in a season once (career high 60 pts); Lapointe scored more than 50 pts six times (career high 76 pts). Lapointe scored 0.70 ppg versus 0.42 ppg for Savard. Lapointe also has a higher ppg in the playoffs (though by a smaller margin).

    Defense. Savard was one of the smartest positional defenders in the league. He was steady, disciplined, and seldom out of position. Savard was huge for his day; while he wasn't an aggressive hitter, he used his strength to neutralize his opponents. Lapointe wasn't quite as strong positionally but was an aggressive checker. He was a tough, fearless hitter who used a combination of sound positioning and intimidation to shut down opponents. Savard generally got a bit more ice time on the PK. Savard is 6th all-time in plus/minus, while Lapointe is 19th. In the eleven years they were teammates, Savard had the higher plus/minus 8 times and they were tied once.

    Awards. Guy Lapointe was a Norris candidate six times (1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979); in 1973 he was second only to Bobby Orr. Serge Savard was a Norris candidate four times (1975, 1976, 1977, 1979). Lapointe was ranked higher in three of the four years in which they were both Norris candidates. Lapointe earned a spot on four all-star teams (1 first team, three second teams). Savard earned a spot on one all-star team (1 second team).

    Playoffs. Savard is one of only seven defensemen to win the Conn Smythe; he finished 9th in scoring as the Canadiens went 12-2 to win the Cup in 1969. Savard has slightly more experience (130 games vs 123 games) and was on more Cup-winning teams (8 vs 6). Lapointe scored more playoff points and has a higher points-per-game. In the eleven years they played together, Lapointe scored 68 pts in 112 PO games while Savard scored 56 points in 103 games.

    It's a tough decision. It's very hard to overlook Savard's Conn Smythe, but Lapointe is more physical, consistently did better in Norris/all-star voting, and is better offensively. I'd take Lapointe by a very small margin.

    What's your opinion?
     
  2. pitseleh

    pitseleh Registered User

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    I'd agree with what you said, Lapointe by a hair. Granted I haven't seen a ton of them (pretty much limited to the Summit Series and select old Canadiens games), Lapointe always impressed me more with his play.
     
  3. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    Pretty close. You have to wonder how good Serge would have been if he hadn't broken his leg so badly.
     
  4. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Correction: Lapointe was only three times a 2nd team all-star('75, '76, '77). He was never a first all-star in '73, only Orr and Park were.

    Its a pretty good choice though. If I'm down a goal I want Lapointe. If I'm up a goal and need to protect a lead I want Savard. In conclusion while Lapointe's offensive output is better Savard just never seemed to play bad. Is it a coincidence that the Canada never lost when Savard was in the lineup in '72? Scotty Bowman used to say Savard played pretty much errorless defense. Its true. He wasnt going to score 80-90 points a year but he had an enourmous +/-. He was solid, steady and dependable. Savard by a hair for me.
     
  5. VanIslander

    VanIslander Don't waste my time

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    Serge Savard got his jersey retired first, probably because he was at his best earlier, getting a Conn Smythe (1969) well before the dynasty years and a Masterton trophy afterwards.

    Savard scored more than Lapointe in three of the four playoffs of the 4-cup Canadiens dynasty. But the difference is negligible.

    1976: Savard 9 pts in 13 games; Lapointe 6 pts in 13 games.
    1977: Savard 9 pts in 14 games; Lapointe 12 pts in 12 games.
    1978: Savard 8 pts in 15 games; Lapointe 7 pts in 14 games.
    1979: Savard 9 pts in 16 games; Lapointe 8 pts in 10 games.

    http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061116.wsptserge15/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home

    Savard weighed 25 lbs more and had 3 inches on Lapointe.

    As Savard himself likes to say with a smile: he played in 5 of the Summit Series games and Canada lost none of them (4-0-1). (He got a broken ankle in the series) Savard was -1 and Lapointe -3 in the series (Henderson +6, Park +4). Savard had 2 assists in 5 games; Lapointe only 1 assist in 7 games. Savard was in his prime, Lapointe was young. Savard had only 3 shots on goal; Lapointe had 15 shots however.

    Overall, Savard was better than Lapointe, but not by much. The Big Three was The Big Three. And the only sure thing is that Orr, Park and Potvin were better.
     
  6. BM67

    BM67 Registered User

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    Lapointe was a 1st team all-star in 72-73. Park was 2nd team that year. HO's list was years were he received votes for the Norris, not just made the all-star teams.
     
  7. Snap Wilson

    Snap Wilson Registered User

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    Having been a fan of those particular teams, I'd say Savard without a second thought. He was really something special in his own end, very Lidstrom/Niedermayer-like. Lapointe was a very good d-man, but I don't think he was as critical to his team's success as The Senator was.
     
  8. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    ..and don't forget the Savardian "Spin-o-rama"
     
  9. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    A little trivia question. Back in 1972 a team of Canadian NHL all-stars are playing a hockey game against the reigning World Champions. It comes down to the last minute of play and Canada is desparately trying to score.

    Who scored and how much time was left?
     
  10. saskganesh

    saskganesh Registered User

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    too easy. henderson, 32 seconds or so left.

    better questions: who got the equalizer, who assisted on those two goals, and whose goal started the 3 goal canadian rally ftw?
     
  11. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    This thread isn't about Henderson though, is it? (that's a hint)

    Also 34 seconds on the Henderson Goal.
     
  12. Psycho Papa Joe

    Psycho Papa Joe Porkchop Hoser

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    Savard without a second thought.

    Lapointe did better in Norris voting because offensive d-men during that era tended to do better in award voting, but if I could have only one of them, Savard would be the guy I'd want on my team. If the Habs didn't have Lapointe, they likely would have kept the offensively talented Van Boxmeer who may have been able to replace his points in the dynasty years. I don't see anyone, until Langway and Englom showed up who could replace Savard's brilliant defense. Savard might be the best defensive d-man, career wise, I have ever seen.
     
  13. Snap Wilson

    Snap Wilson Registered User

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    It should be mentioned that neither Psycho Papa Joe or I like to think more than once about anything.
     
  14. Psycho Papa Joe

    Psycho Papa Joe Porkchop Hoser

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    Ungreat minds think alike.
     
  15. Lowetide

    Lowetide Registered User

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    I'd take Savard. Lapointe was an outstanding player, very competitive and gifted with the puck, but Savard could control a lot of things defensively. He was (as mentioned above) just an outstanding positional player who made the right decision with ridiculous consistency.

    Savard because he was a more complete player, no disrespect meant to Lapointe.
     
  16. Stonefly

    Stonefly Registered User

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    I'd take Savard as well. That's no slight to Lapointe. Head to head with Savard there aren't many players who come out ahead of him.
    He had the ability to, at times, control the pace of a game. Other than Larry Robinson I don't know that I've seen a better defensive player. He'd play guys perfectly. Offensively he wasn't outstanding but he did have the knack for great breakout passes that were almost always tape to tape. The way he used the spin-o-rama was icing...
     
  17. V-2 Schneider

    V-2 Schneider Registered User

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    Sometimes one outshone the other, but Serge, as far as i'm concerned, is still the best defensive D man the past 35 years.As great as Potvin was , Serge was better in his own end, and he made it look easy.He was an economical talent along with being able to join the rush when needed, and was also a great passer.

    Lapointe was more exciting to watch, and quite often he was superior to Robinson.
     
  18. VanIslander

    VanIslander Don't waste my time

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    Rod Langway. Not even close.

    edit: I see many think it's close.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2007
  19. GSK*

    GSK* Guest

    Not even close are u kidding me ? I agree that Langway was A BIT better defensively but this is CLOSE.
     
  20. V-2 Schneider

    V-2 Schneider Registered User

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    Langway played for the Habs.

    Serge was better in his own end, and that's just my opinion.
     
  21. Psycho Papa Joe

    Psycho Papa Joe Porkchop Hoser

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    For his career, Savard was the better defensive defenseman. Langway might have been better his two peak years, although I doubt he was ever as good as Savard was in his 60pt year, but he most certainly didn't have a better career.

    As an aside, Langway's two Norris trophies were highway robbery. Potvin, Bourque, Robinson (in 1983), and even Coffey (in 1984) would have been far better choices. The NHL was being criticized for always picking defenseman who could score alot of points, and the result of the backlash was they gave it to a purely one-dimensional defensive d-man. But contrary to popular belief of the time, most of these d-men who were winning Norris trophies and scoring alot of points, were also great defensive d-men.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2007
  22. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    OK times up, it was Savard with 4 seconds left. He tied the game against Czechoslovakia.
     
  23. Stonefly

    Stonefly Registered User

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    Most, but Coffey wasn't one of them. Was he even a defenseman? :sarcasm:
     
  24. mcphee

    mcphee Registered User

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    During Savard's prime, it was easy to overlook him at times, as he wasn't as spectacular as Robinson, nor as physical as Lapointe. He controlled the play without a whole lot of wasted movement. You wouldn't leave the Forum talking about him, but watch some old film. A lot of big goals were scored when Serge made a simple pass at the right time.
     
  25. John Flyers Fan

    John Flyers Fan Registered User

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    I'll disagree with that. I would take a number of defenseman before I would take Langway.
     

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