GDB 45: Vincent Lecavalier

Jonathan Willis
January 18 2009 01:04PM

As we wait for the game against the Coyotes to begin, let’s consider two players over the past two seasons. Both are gritty, have good size, and are well-known and often mentioned as Top-10 players. Here are the numbers:

Player A

2008-09: 45GP – 28G – 21A – 59 PTS, +10

2007-08: 82GP – 40G – 66A – 106 PTS, -8

2006-07: 82GP – 56G – 54A – 100 PTS, +23

Player B

2008-09: 45GP – 15G – 22A – 37 PTS, +4

2007-08: 82GP – 41G – 44A – 85 PTS, -23

2006-07: 82GP – 49G – 57A – 106 PTS, -11

Player A is clearly superior to Player B. Outside of a slight difference in one season, he’s been a far better offensive performer, and his +/- totals are well ahead of Player B. Yet everybody, bizarrely enough, thinks that these two players are identical in ability, despite the fact that the statistics don’t support it at all.

The reason that everybody regards these two players as identical talents is because they are one player. Player A is Vincent Lecavalier, specifically his point totals against his own division, pro-rated over full seasons. Player B is Vincent Lecavalier against the rest of the NHL, pro-rated over an entire season.

I haven’t gotten into the effect of the various divisions on player performance, but it is something that we as Oilers fans should be wise to. We’ve seen the effect on Erik Cole, and it isn’t an illusion. The Southeast is the worst division in the NHL, by far, and it isn’t surprising that some of the league’s top goal- and point- scorers can be found there. It’s something that GM’s should keep in mind before making trades, at any rate.

It's something Oilers fans should keep in the back of their mind as they watch their team play the Coyotes and fantasize about what a new addition to the lineup could do to help the cause.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 CurtisS
January 18 2009, 01:21PM
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So I guess Ovie couldnt score 50 goals with out being in the SE.

Give your head a shake.

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#2 CurtisS
January 18 2009, 01:23PM
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Lets continue this Hemsky vs Vinny argument here.

Vinny superior to Hemsky.

Vinny a future Hall of Famer

Hemsky not so much.

Enough said.

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#3 David Staples
January 18 2009, 01:28PM
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Strong argument, Jonathan. Good stuff.

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#4 CurtisS
January 18 2009, 01:38PM
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I got one for you

Jonathon ask 30 GM's who they would rather build a franchise around

Vinny or Hemsky

Maybe Hemmer gets 1 vote. I doubt it.

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#5 Cam
January 18 2009, 01:40PM
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CurtisS wrote:

Lets continue this Hemsky vs Vinny argument here. Vinny superior to Hemsky. Vinny a future Hall of Famer Hemsky not so much. Enough said.

What are you taking about - JW never even mentioned Hemsky. Give YOUR head a shake please and read what is written.

And in answer to your post about Ovechkin, I will bet you he wouldn't score quite as many goals if he wasn't in the SE. He's still an awesome player, though.

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#6 APE
January 18 2009, 01:53PM
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CurtisS wrote:

Lets continue this Hemsky vs Vinny argument here. Vinny superior to Hemsky. Vinny a future Hall of Famer Hemsky not so much. Enough said.

Wow those are great arguments. At least JW provides stats to back up his point of view. What do you have besides your opinion?

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#7 Fiveandagame
January 18 2009, 01:55PM
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@ CurtisS: You are the only person who mentioned Hemsky.

Kovalchuck, St.Loius, Vinny, Ovechkin ect have slightly inflated personal stats do to the quality of opposition. And that makes a difference when you play those teams 1/4 of the time.

How many more goals would Edmonton Score if they played in a division where 4 out of the five teams don't make the playoffs? It's the same thing when Detroit's point totals were grossly inflated as they were playing sub par teams in Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus and Nashville. Where as everybody in the NW division is usually in the hunt for the playoffs. ie: points are harder to come by and the quality of opposition is greater.

Give your head a shake and pull it out of your (edited with love by WG.)

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#8 CurtisS
January 18 2009, 02:54PM
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How am I the only person that mentioned Hemsky.

Jonathon in the last blog in the comments said:

Vinny might be a better offensive player but hemsky is a better player.

I didnt say it. He did.

Its not true. Vinny is superior to hemsky.

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#9 Gord
January 18 2009, 02:55PM
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@ CurtisS: Try reading the post before spouting off - all you are doing is making yourself look stupid.

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#10 JackBauer
January 18 2009, 02:59PM
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Are there serious rumors of Hemsky for Lecaviler? Or even that the Oilers are going for him? If not, why all the Lecav talk?

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#11 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2009, 03:02PM
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@ CurtisS:

Nobody is arguing that Lecavalier isn't a good player. He's excellent. And Ovechkin's an elite talent - top-five in the league in my opinion.

The point still stands that Leacavlier is a much better player inside the Southeast Division than outside of it. Look at the difference to Cole - if you think it's negligible, there isn't much I can say to you, because you're clearly beyond reason.

As for your "ask 30 NHL GM's comment" - I can't do it, but if you asked Ken Holland, or for that matter any GM in charge of a contending team if he'd rather acquire Hemsky or Lecavalier via trade, I'd wager good money he'd say Hemsky.

Especially when you consider that Hemsky's making half the money, and for a shorter term.

Look at the numbers this season - playing only Southeast teams, Lecavalier would be tied with Sidney Crosby for 2nd in the NHL in points scoring. Playing only teams outside of his division, he's tied for 45th, and well back of Hemsky's scoring pace. I don't argue that he's an inferior offensive player to Hemsky, but that's a big difference in his scoring ratio.

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#12 deep oil
January 18 2009, 03:03PM
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JackBauer wrote:

Are there serious rumors of Hemsky for Lecaviler? Or even that the Oilers are going for him? If not, why all the Lecav talk?

tampa would prefer draft picks and prospects only - due to financial crisis - hemmer is stable and would be traded again if khoules and barrie hold onto the team - this is about money, getting something back is not even secondary

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#13 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2009, 03:03PM
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@ JackBauer:

I don't think so, but it's getting tossed around the message boards and blogs like nobody's business, so I thought folks might be interested in this breakdown.

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#14 CurtisS
January 18 2009, 03:04PM
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@ Gord:

Gord read back in the last post before you prove your stupid.

Jonthan said Hemsky was a better player than Vinny.

I disagree, yet im a idoit??

Nice try.

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#15 Gord
January 18 2009, 03:11PM
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CurtisS wrote:

@ Gord: Gord read back in the last post before you prove your stupid. Jonthan said Hemsky was a better player than Vinny. I disagree, yet im a idoit?? Nice try.

Discuss it in that post instead of dragging it into the next.

JW has provided stats to back up his discussion, where are yours?

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#16 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2009, 03:16PM
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@ CurtisS:

Incidentally, there's a huge difference in quality between Ovechkin and Lecavalier. They don't belong in the same sentence, honestly.

Here are the numbers for Ovechkin, using the same exercise:

In Division

2008-09: 45GP - 34G - 62A - 96 PTS +34 2007-08: 82GP - 46G - 36A - 82 PTS +15 2006-07: 82GP - 64G - 46A - 110 PTS -20

Outside Division

2008-09: 45GP - 29G - 21A - 50 PTS +9 2007-08: 82GP - 71G - 49A - 120 PTS +34 2006-07: 82GP - 34G - 46A - 80 PTS -18

He benefits from playing in the Southeast (last season was one of the rare exceptions I've seen to this phenomenon), but in only one of the six samples (his rookie year) are his numbers inferior to Lecavalier's.

Ovechkin is a far better player than Lecavalier, and it isn't close.

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#17 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 03:18PM
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Hemmer for Lecav, why debate it, we can dream and debate all we want, call each other a bunch of a-holes, etc but does anyone even this trade is a remote possibility? Not a chance IMO, so Curtis quit making youself sound like an a-hole and either back up your agruement with fact or leave it.

I choose to leave it b/c I don't see this happening... EVER.

Back to the point of the thread GDB!! Oiler's site note Hemmer is back in, and on the top line SWEET! But get this, Poltuny hits the Popcorn stand and Reddox daws in the 2nd line.

Just when I thought the Oil were turning it around MacT does this. I am gald I didn't jump off Bagged's fire Mact bandwagon.

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#18 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 03:21PM
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Oh yeah, and Brule will be on the 4th line again.

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#19 Gord
January 18 2009, 03:24PM
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@ Hockey Gods: Reddox will be in the line up for the rest of the season - MacT has added him to his list of underskilled and overplayed group of players. We may as well get used to him playing each game no matter how much we don't like it!

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#20 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2009, 03:27PM
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Also, vs. Hemsky:

2008-09

Hemsky: 2.03 EVPTS/60, 5.76 PPPTS/60, 11.3 EVCorsi/60 Lecavalier: 2.51 EVPTS/60, 3.19 PPPTS/60, 1.1 EVCorsi/60

2007-08

Hemsky: 2.36 EVPTS/60, 5.93 PPPTS/60, -.8 EVCorsi/60, Lecavalier: 2.42 EVPTS/60, 4.51 PPPTS/60, -1.1 EVCorsi/60

Lecavalier's a better point producer 5-on-5, by a clear margin. Hemsky's a better point producer on the powerplay, by a clear margin.

But there are two ends to the rink, and Hemsky is much, much better at keeping the puck in the offensive end than Lecavalier is. Lecavalier's one of the most exciting players in the league to watch, because it's always end-to-end action with him; he cheats to offense. Hemsky is a much more balanced player, he's well ahead of Lecavalier in positional play and awareness.

This insistence that the only end of the rink that matters is the end with the other team's net is bizarre. Preventing a goal against helps your team exactly as much as scoring a goal for, and while Lecavalier's a little ways ahead of Hemsky in one area, Hemsky is far ahead of Lecavalier in the other.

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#21 MattL
January 18 2009, 03:27PM
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"The reason that everybody regards these two players as identical talents is because they are one player."

OMG, my brain exploded when I read that line. Well done, Willis. You think of things people don't think about.

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#22 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 03:29PM
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@ Gord: I can't help but agree with you Gord, it sucks, but as long pompous Mact it driving the short bus players like Reddox are something we'll have to deal with.

I was just hoping sooner or later MacT would see the light. Still baffling, I realize the waiver situation with Poltuny and Brule, and Reddox is a decent PKer, but why not play win rather than play not to lose.

Thanks for the ear, as I re-read this I am just whining.

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#23 Chris
January 18 2009, 03:31PM
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@ Johnathan Willis:

Sorry Willis. This reminds me of when you tried to argue that Horcoff is a better player than Getzlaf. If Vinny is better than Hemskey, and Horcoff is better than Getzlaf...Then how come the Oilers haven't won any cups? Both those guys have. Stuff those numbers and give your head a shake.

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#24 Gord
January 18 2009, 03:37PM
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@ Hockey Gods: We all hope for the same thing, but MacT's plumber glasses only see effort, not talent.

There was a MacT quote talking about Reddox on here a few days ago. It went something like 'if his last name was Brule everyone would be excited about him.'

I laughed so hard when I read that. Is MacT so dumb that he thinks that the letters on the back of the jersey is what excites the fans? Offensive talent excites fans, fights excite fans, and huge hits excite fans. I have yet to see Reddox provide any of those type of highlights so therefor he doesn't excite me. Penalty killing and backchecking aren't exciting. They are required, but not exciting. That is the difference between the world we live in and the one MacT creates a roster in.

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#25 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 03:41PM
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@ Gord: 100% agreed now where the eff is Baggedmilk and and his fire Mact Bandwagon, he was supposed to pick me up a year ago. I just bought real cool push bar with fog lights for that bad boy. Now people will see us coming and drive right over the naysayers.

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#26 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 03:44PM
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Oh my mood is improving, the Eagles woke up late in the third and just took the lead.

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#27 APE
January 18 2009, 03:49PM
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@ Hockey Gods:

Wow I stopped watching because I thought the Cards had it in the bag.

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#28 APE
January 18 2009, 03:52PM
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Gord wrote:

There was a MacT quote talking about Reddox on here a few days ago. It went something like ‘if his last name was Brule everyone would be excited about him.’

I saw that on TV and I spit my lasagna all over the floor and then fell off my chair and rolled in it as I laughed and laughed. What a joke. The coach can't even see the difference in POTENTIAL and SKILL between those two. How do people in the hockey world take this guy seriously?

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#29 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 03:57PM
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APE wrote:

How do people in the hockey world take this guy seriously?

Beats me, becasue I can't, but I have heard and read a few times that several people in the in the hockey world respect him a coach and feel he is among the best in league. I have no idea.

Man ths PHI ARZ game is going to be a great finish, now ARZ is marching it, 4 mins left.

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#30 APE
January 18 2009, 04:01PM
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TD!

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#31 Gord
January 18 2009, 04:04PM
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When the Oilers were 3 1/2 lines of 3rd line grinders he coached those teams well. Now that we have skilled puck handlers, he isn't doing nearly the same with more offensive talent. There is no doubt why Horc, Moreau, Reddox, Pisani and Staios are his favourites, that's the only type of player he has success coaching. I would be willing to bet he can get more out of those types of players than anyone else. He just can't coach skilled players and the Oilers have too many skilled guys to have a guy behind the bench that looks lost and desperate coaching them.

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#32 Gord
January 18 2009, 04:05PM
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Alright MacNabb, you have < 3min to drive for 1 more TD. gogogogogo!

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#33 Papa Roach
January 18 2009, 04:05PM
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Anyone have the gamefeed website address for the tilt tonight?

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#34 Jason Gregor
January 18 2009, 04:07PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

be tied with Sidney Crosby for 2nd in the NHL in points scoring. Playing only teams outside of his division, he’s tied for 45th, and well back of Hemsky’s scoring pace. I don’t argue that he’s an inferior offensive player to Hemsky, but that’s a big difference in his scoring ratio.

Jonathon,

While your arguement is fair that Vinny banks points within his division, when 32 of the games you played were against your division, regardless of the opposition, wouldn't you want your best player to show up in those games considering the make up 39% of the season, and winning your division guarantees you at least a 3rd seed.

The last three years Hemsky hasn't put up good numbers in divisional games. This year in he has been better, with a point per game, but only one goal in eight games.

Last year Hemsky scored 6-17-23 in 29 games...prorated over the year that is 17-48-65 in 82 games.

In 2006/2007 Hemsky was 3-14-17 in 26 games...prorated over the year that is 9-44-53 in 82 games.

You can argue Lecavalier dominates his division, but the importance of those games is also higher. Hemsky's number don't come close. So then Hemsky isn't as impactful in big games.

We all agree Lecavalier is a better player and Hemsky has a better contract, but as head-to-head player Lecavalier is more dominant to this point in their careers.

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#35 APE
January 18 2009, 04:07PM
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@ Gord:

Here they come..

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#36 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 04:10PM
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Convert this 4th down McNabb... Pleeeaaassseee

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#37 APE
January 18 2009, 04:12PM
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Where's the flag!?!?

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#38 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 04:13PM
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Throw an effing flag.

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#39 Gord
January 18 2009, 04:15PM
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Horrible non-call

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#40 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 04:16PM
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Need a big stop from the D now, not looking good though.

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#41 APE
January 18 2009, 04:18PM
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Gonna need some magic

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#42 Gord
January 18 2009, 04:18PM
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Doesn't matter because PHI doesn't have time to make more than 1 play

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#43 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 04:19PM
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1 or 2 plays max... I think it's over, but never say never.

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#44 APE
January 18 2009, 04:20PM
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Laterals..c'mon just bomb it.

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#45 Gord
January 18 2009, 04:20PM
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$H!T - that never had a chance

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#46 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 04:23PM
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Yup, or get 15 on a sideline pass, hopefully enough time for a bomb.

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#47 APE
January 18 2009, 04:23PM
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Ok that's enough football...GO OIL GO

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#48 Hockey Gods
January 18 2009, 04:26PM
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Well Baltimore Pittsburg should be a real shootout. Whay do you guys think 7-6 for Pittsburg?

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#49 Smokin' Ray
January 18 2009, 04:34PM
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GAME DAY!!!

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#50 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2009, 04:40PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

The last three years Hemsky hasn’t put up good numbers in divisional games. This year in he has been better, with a point per game, but only one goal in eight games.

You can argue Lecavalier dominates his division, but the importance of those games is also higher. Hemsky’s number don’t come close. So then Hemsky isn’t as impactful in big games.

I appreciate that it's important to be up for "big games" but I don't know that divisional record shows that automatically. I mean there's a world of difference between a March game against Florida for the Lightning than there is a March game against Nashville for Edmonton. Every year, only three teams in the Southeast are in contention for playoff spots (and it's usually closer to two) so I don't think those translate into big games.

I'd say playoff record is a better indicator, and in the year the Lightning won the Cup, Lecavalier was 4th on his team in scoring, behind Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, and Fredrik Modin.

I'd say the reason Lecavalier's numbers are great against his division and Hemsky's are mediocre stems more from the fact that the Northwest Division is much, much stronger than the Southeast.

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