Left Wing and a Prayer

That’s Marc Tardif (#11) scoring and Reginald Houle (#14) observing for the Habs, maybe 1971. Montreal stole them both from the other clubs with a special rule that allowed them to reserve the two best French players in each draft season. Fricking Pollock.

Ask fans for the greatest LW in the history of the game and you’ll get answers like Ted Lindsay, Bobby Hull and Frank Mahovlich. I think the goofy kid in Washington will end up being better than the whole damn bunch if he can stay healthy.

In the fall of 2005, the Edmonton Oilers broke camp with a nice group of left-wingers: Smyth, Torres, Moreau, Todd Harvey. Last fall, the opening night lineup featured Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, Ethan Moreau and Marc Pouliot. That’s a step down in terms of talent, grit and experience. The numbers are 5×5/60; 5×4/60; quality of competition; quality of linemate; +/- in endzone faceoffs and then 5×5/GF-GA ON.

  • Penner: 1.71/3.15/2nd level/toughest/-39/45-32
  • Nilsson: 1.22/4.59/2nd level/2nd level/-45/34-32
  • Moreau: 1.50/0.00/toughest/3rd level/+9/37-39
  • Reddox: 1.43/11.84/3rd level/3rd level/+15/16-22
  • Jacques: 2.28/0.00/2nd level/2nd level/EVEN/3-4
  • O’Sullivan: 1.69/2.05/2nd level/3rd level/EVEN/46-48

I placed O’Sullivan at the end because most of his season was spent on the left coast so we can’t compare directly. A few points:

  • Ethan Moreau had a good season by the numbers, folks. His penalties were galling and his comments were unique in terms of team leader, but he faced the toughest opposition without a lot of help and sawed it off.
  • Penner looks less impressive through this window. We know he was quality when placed on the Horcoff-Hemsky line and he must have been pushing uphill at that time. But he got a push in terms of faceoffs and softer opponents outside the 1line time and didn’t make enough of it based on these numbers. Strictly complementary as a player, 7th in the batting order type of player.
  • Nilsson had a perfect opportunity here based on the numbers. He did not take advantage of it. If you want to pick one player who is likely to have done extreme damage to his career in 08-09, this is your man.
  • Reddox has a long way to go but he’s in the game.
  • Jacques finally put some crooked numbers on the board and we can hope.
  • O’Sullivan didn’t have his best season but was not (based on these numbers) playing in an ideal 2line situation.

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