Did You Notice?
Eye Openers in the 2008-09 Hockey Set
By Glenn Guzzo
First impressions while separating the perforations in the just-arrived hockey card set (references to line status follow the designations on the Strat-O-Matic roster sheet):
For the first time, the Strat-O-Matic roster sheets designate which defensemen are properly paired, both for 2008-09 and the classic seasons released this year, 1960-61 and 1971-72. That’s a very welcome improvement.
Atlanta is the only team in the East that doesn’t have at least two defensemen rated 4 defensively at even strength.
Carolina’s defensemen scored half their goals on the power play (21 of 42). All four who can score have “+” ratings for shots that threaten only when the Hurricanes have the extra man.
Despite very similar stats, New Jersey goalie Scott Clemmensen (2.39 GAA, 91.7 save percentage) allows 9.8 goal chances compared to teammate Martin Brodeur (2.42 GAA, 91.6 save percentage) who allows 10.25. But Clemmensen yields 7 rebound chances, while Brodeur surrenders just one.
All five of the Rangers’ defensemen in the regular set are 4s defensively on the penalty kill. Marc Staal, Daniel Girardi and Paul Mara are the few defensemen rated 4 at full strength who do not get reduced to 3s while shorthanded.
Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin’s 56 goals were nearly double the entire output of the Islanders’ first line (32). For that matter, Edmonton’s two carded fourth-line wingers, Dustin Penner (17 goals) and Patrick O’Sullivan (16) scored more than the Islanders’ three-man first line.
Washington D Michael Green’s 31 goals were equal or better than the top five carded defensemen combined could muster on 19 teams. Pathetic Tampa Bay’s five blue-liners combined for only six goals.
Philadelphia has two potent scoring lines and a strong defense pair, but after that the talent drop-off is life-threatening. The Flyers have 192 goals from the first six forwards (four of whom are at least 4s defensively), but only 26 from the next five (none of whom are better than 2 defensively). The first defensive pair are 4s defensively, but none of the last three defensemen is better than 2 defensively.
In Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh has not one, but two, men with boxed-assist ratings of 9, highest in the set.
Anaheim C Ryan Getzlaf has a boxed-assist rating at 8 (for 66 assists in 81 games), while Washington’s Niklas Backstrom is a 7 (for 66 assists in 82 games). Anaheim fourth-line wingers Michael Brown and George Parros are both bad boys. Brown is a AA penalty man (145 PIM, 4 points in just 48 games) and Parros is an A (135 PIM, 10 points in 74 games).
Colorado fourth-line LW Cody McLeod scored 15 goals – more than all but two other forwards on the team.
Stanley Cup finalist Detroit has two 5-rated defenders in C Pavel Datsyuk and D Niklas Lidstrom, but otherwise the team’s defense has fallen way off, with only one other 4 (Henrik Zetterberg).