Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Midget Leaves A Mark - Sens v. Pens

This has been a terrific first round so far. Although it looks like many of the series may end up being short ones the games have been close and there are a lot of great storylines. Unlike last season it doesn't look like a lot of upsets are in the offing. With tonight's action the Rangers have now swept the Thrashers, not a big surprise to anyone, I think, despite the third seed the Thrashers held. Les Sabres are up three games to one against the gritty Islanders. The Devils evened their series on Gomez' OT winner in the one series that looks like it may go seven. Out West the Sharks are up 3-1 in G4 as they look to go up three games to one on the Preds. The Ducks look to finish off the Wild in a bit of a surprise, not in their series lead, but in the fact that most called this to go six or seven. Similarily the Canucks have a chance to wrap up the Stars. Every game has been close and two have been decided in overtime but Luongo has been the difference. And the Flames are in another must win as they try to even up their series.

Meanwhile Ottawa will look to put away the Pens tomorrow night. This is one that most have picked to go seven and many, including me, picked the Pens to take it, for no better reason (in my case) that the Sens always seem to blow it. They may still but it doesn't look like it, this round anyway.

One of the interesting stories in this series and in the entire playoffs for that matter has been the emergence of Mike Comrie. Indeed CP today had a glowing story about "the fucking midget" as RiversQ has referred to him a few times, I believe.

Oiler fans have a burr about Comrie, maybe moreso then anyone else, and that includes Pronger. The hometown boy who got the big entry level contract and then got sent out of town as he held out for more big money. Few wept as Comrie became Anson Carter. When he joined the Sens midway through this season it marked his fourth team in six seasons and with free agency looming and the rep of being skilled but soft.

Now with the Sens poised to move on, let's take a look at Comrie's role, using Vic Ferrari's terrific tool to look at ES icetime. (Vic should look at getting royalties for this). Comrie is presently a plus 4 at ES with 2 goals and a beautiful assist on the gamewinner in G4, all of his points also being at ES.

In G1 Murray basically went power vs. power with the Alfredsson line getting the lion's share of icetime against Crosby. Alfie had 6.2 minutes against Sid with Phillips at 7.1 and Volchenkov at 7.5. Comrie's line was actually third in head to head icetime against Crosby, barely above that of the fourth line. He was at 1.9 v. Sid, 3.4 v. Malkin and 2.7 v. both Staal and Talbot.

In G2 Murray stuck with power vs. power. Alfie was at 6.1 with Phillips at 9.8 and Volchenkov at 10.3. Comrie got slightly more icetime at 2.5 with 3.9 v Malkin, 3.3 v. Talbot and 2.9 v Staal.

Its in G3 where things begin to get really interesting. Therrien looks to get Crosby away from Alfredsson who gets 4.6 v. Crosby. Comrie gets 3.9 v. Crosby, double his ES minutes in G1. He also is on for 6.7 v. Malkin who is now playing some with Crosby and only 1.4 v.both Talbot and Staal. While Therien gets Sid away from Alfie, Murray manages to get Philips out for 9.5 and Volchenkov for 10.8 when Crosby is on the ice, more total then G2 and G1.

And then in G4 Therrien goes pretty well full out power versus power. He has the last change but it looks like maybe he figures Crosby can outscore or at least keep Alfie to evens. Alfie is out for a whopping 8.8 v Sid, a series high, and Phillips clocks in at 14.2 while Volchenkov is at 14.8.

Alfredsson's line is kept off the scoresheet at ES but so is Crosby - a sawoff. Staal scores the lone goal for the Pens, ironically against the Alfredsson line - its Redden and Meszaros on D.

Comrie only gets 2.1 against Sid, 1.6 against Malkin and 3.4 versus Staal but 7.9 versus Talbot. He sets up the winner while out against Staal and Roberts.

So the erstwhile Oiler who wanted to be paid like a first line centre seems to have found a place as a second line winger. He is playing with two pretty good hockey players in Pete Schaeffer and Mike Fisher but he's doing his job at both ends of the rink and went after Talbot in G1 and then fought Colby Armstrong in G4. And as we can see, while he is not getting a ton of icetime against Crosby he is not getting completely sheltered from him and he is getting out there against some of the other serious weapons the Pens have.

Its early and a small sample size but like another former Oiler who has found a niche, Dan Cleary, he may have finally figured out how he is going to succeed in this league.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow night. Will Therrien try and keep Crosby away from Alfredsson or will he have them go head to head, hoping that Crosby (who has been great imo) will outscore the big line or the PP clicks or, maybe, just maybe, someone other then Robeerts and Staal does something offensively. With Murray having last change I think that this may be it for the Pens.


Lowetide said...

It's a great spot for him. If Comrie is wise he tells his agent to take less money to stay right the hell where he is.

Maybe he can call Anson Carter for advice.

Master Lok said...

I think you're underrating the Rangers performance. While many predicted the Rags to beat Atlanta, few predicted a sweep.

Mr DeBakey said...

Mike Comrie - matured or playing for his NHL career?

Its been an interesting time for the Next-Train-Out-Of-Oilerville gang.

Comrie's been in all the papers.

Our pal Marc & his playing partner & predecessor T Poti are playing over 26 minutes each for the Nassau County Snowlanders. They're the only two Snowlander Dmen who can keep up with the Sabres.

Bergeron's gotta be luvvin this.

Black Dog said...

mr. d. - both? And Lowetide is right - he has found a fit - will he realize it though?

MAB has done a decent job for the Isles but its Poti who has impressed most.

How Ted Nolan could not get a job all those years is beyond me.

master lok - I'll give the Rangers full marks for the sweep. I just think they got a really nice draw first round - I can't see them handling either the Ottawas or Les Sabres next round.

Kyle said...

BD: This refers to your last post, but Heatley has not quite been the same since the car accident. That's saying something considering he's the first player since Bure to get back to back 50 goal seasons.

Black Dog said...

kyle - I won't dispute that

maybe I'm just an arsehole but I expect more from Heatley because of the fact that he has back to back 50s

I guess I just think a guy who puts up those numbers should have more of an impact