Sunday, September 11, 2011

72 Finis, 76 Commence

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I have changed a few things on the sidebar, including tagging posts so they can be found a little easier. Still a ways to go but hopefully if you're hanging out one day and you're thinking, hmm, I need to get a vasectomy soon, where are those posts about the big snip snip de snip, then you can find them a little easier.

Aiming to please, aiming to please.

As I was tagging this and tagging that I realized that I never really came up with any conclusions after the big 72 writeup last fall. So before I begin my look at the 76 Canada Cup I wanted to quickly post this total scoring chance chart from the Summit Series and make a few comments before I segue into the 76 tournament:

Only one player who was part of the final roster, Parise, was a minus in scoring chances at ES. Other than old JP there were only a handful of bit players and the overmatched D pairing of Seiling and Awrey in the red.

This was Canada's series from start to finish. Only in game five, which Sinden would later call Canada's best game (?!), were the Canadians outchanced (and badly for that matter) at ES. Throw that game out and the ES numbers are even better looking for Canada.

A few final thoughts:

Yvan Cournoyer was in the black for scoring chances in every single game, the only Canadian to be so. Just a fantastic player and probably not a coincidence that Esposito's struggles in this regard in the middle of the series were related to the little winger not being on his line.

Having said that the biggest revelation for me in the series, other than the actual results, was Phil Esposito. Absolutely tremendous player.

The Esposito line and the Clarke line are the ones everyone remembers but the Ratelle/Gilbert/Hull line were absolutely dominant in games six through eight. We're talking blanking the Russians while running up fanatstic totals themselves. A huge part of the Canadian victory.

Sinden had a bloated roster and some of the choices early on were odd ones in retrospect but once he figured it out its hard to argue with most of his roster selections, except for putting Goldworthy in the lineup in game seven after Berenson did such a fantastic job in game six, especially on the PK. Peter Mahovlich certainly had an impact as one of the two spare forwards and of course stepped in when Parise was tossed in the last game, making a big difference.

Bad goaltending, poor discipline and some bad luck made this a much closer series but even with these factors Canada was the dominant team. Put together the roster that swept the last three games and play them in an eight game series against the Soviets one hundred times and Canada wins the series between seventy five to eighty five times. Seriously. I don't doubt that for a minute. And I never thought that would be the case.


Fast forward four years and the first thing that leaps out at you are the names on Tema Canada's roster. We can add one more thing to our thoughts on 1972. It was a team which was a transitional one when it came to Canadian hockey, similar to the 96 and 98 clubs. Eight of the men on the roster that finished that tournament were thirty or over in 1972 - Bergman, Stapleton, White, Esposito, Parise, Ratelle, Gilbert and Frank Mahovlich. Paul Henderson was twenty nine. So was Tony Esposito. Cournoyer and Dennis Hull were twenty eight. Amongst the spare parts Stan Mikita and Red Berenson were thirty two. Also interesting - a lot of spares who did not play or barely played were just kids, including three twenty one year olds - Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin. And amongst those who played a big part in the tournament Bobby Clarke was twenty three. Brad Park was twenty four as was Guy Lapointe.

Not a lot of guys in the prime of their careers and come 1976 so many of the 1972 stalwarts are nearing the end of the line. None of the players mentioned above who would be in their thirties in 1976 are on the roster with the exception of Phil Esposito (although Jean Ratelle was sixth in scoring the previous year with 105 points). Ron Ellis, who was thirty one, was retired. Its a massive changing of the guard.

The only holdovers from 1972 - Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard on the blue as well as Bobby Orr, who did not play due to injury. Gone are the excellent pairings of Brad Park and Gary Bergman and Bill White and Pat Stapleton. Also on the blueline in 76 - Denis Potvin, Larry Robinson, Carol Vadnais and Jimmy Watson.

Yeah its a hell of a blueline.

In goal Tony Esposito is not back and Ken Dryden gets injured in training camp. The best goalie in the game at the time, Bernie Parent, is hurt as well. Rogie Vachon, Gerry Cheevers and Chico Resch will backstop the club.

Up front only Phil Esposito and Bobby Clarke are back from the top nine forwards. Peter Mahovlich is the only other returnee from those who played a major role as a forward in 1972. Joining them are Gilbert Perreault, who played two games in the Summit Series, and Marcel Dionne and Rick Martin, who did not play at all.

Filling out the roster up front - Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Bill Barber, Reggie Leach, Danny Gare, Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald and Bobby Hull and his hairpiece, who would have played in 1972 if WHA players had been a part of it.

So its a brand new team essentially. Its coached by Scott Bowman and loaded with Habs, seven of them coming off the first of four straight Cups. Also heavily represented are the Flyers (four players) and Sabres (three).

The roster is smaller than the 72 roster, twenty two skaters in all. An interesting thing to note here is that unlike 72 and so many Canadian clubs that follow there are no role players, except for Jimmy Watson, a prototypical defensive defenceman, and Bob Gainey, the mold for the defensive forward. There are no grinding wingers like Cashman, Goldsworthy and Parise, no defence first PK centres like Red Berenson, no aging veterans like Frank Mahovlich and Stan Mikita.

Against the Americans these are the lines that Scott Bowman rolls out with their goals and assists from the previous season:

Shutt (45/34), Pete Mahovlich (34/71), Lafleur (56/69)
Barber (50/62), Sittler (41/59), Leach (61/30)
Martin (49/37), Perreault (44/69), Gare (50/23)
Hull (53/70 - WHA), Esposito (29/38), Dionne (40/54)

Five players coming off one hundred point seasons. Every single player except Esposito with less than one hundred points (Shutt, Leach, Martin, Gare, Dionne) with forty or more goals.

As a matter of fact the one guy who looks to be the weak link? The hero from 72. Phil Esposito is coming off of a season where he scored twenty nine goals, only thirteen of them at ES. He is a minus thirty nine to boot.

And on the blue? Denis Potvin had thirty one goals and sixty seven assists.

So yeah the team is pretty damn good.

Next post, we'll take a look at the game against the Americans.


Pete. said...

Less than a week ago I was wanting to show my wife all your dog posts, but discovered it was too much of a hassle tracking them down. I was bitterly muttering "grumble grumble, no fucking tags, bitch bitch, what is this, guy should be catering to my every whim" and I guess my complaints must have carried on the autumn winds all the way to Toronto, because look! Tags! Awesome.

Looking forward to this '76 thing a lot - the '72 one was excellent.

Black Dog said...

lol Pete, well glad to have helped you out, I think I have most of them in there, note too that his eulogy is a separate tag

thanks for the compliment on the 72 series, I hope I can live up to the hype ;)