The all Northwest Division team

Jean Lefebvre
May 16 2009 11:26AM

allstars

The 2009 Stanley Cup party started with just two invitees from the Northwest Division, and neither of those guests stuck around for the lampshades-on-the-head, hey-I-wonder-if-you-can-mix-Tequila-and-Dr.-Pepper stage of the shindig.

A couple of years ago, arguments were made that the Northwest was the best division in the circuit and if the claim was dubious then — most balanced, most middle class, most wide open might have been better descriptions — it’s fairly preposterous now.

Yeah, all those never-say-die Flames fans can talk tough about things being different if only they weren’t so banged up late in the season and into the playoffs.

Yeah, the conspiracy-minded Canucks supporters who are disciples of Tony Gallagher’s preachings can mutter about the deck being stacked in the Chicago series by league officials and whistle-blowers who wanted the darling Blackhawks to advance.

And yeah, the folks in Edmonton , Denver and Twin Cities can hang their hats on whatever explanations they can come up with for perceived underachieving this past winter.

The bottom line is that for the seventh season in a row, the Cup will he handed to a club from another division. Only the teams who currently call the Northeast Division home (16 years) have gone longer between sips from the shiny smokestack. And yes, the geographically among you will note that those are the two congregations that contain all the Canadian teams.

But just because all the Northwest teams are on the golf course (it’s apparently some sort of law that a reference to golf must be made when discussing eliminated hockey teams) there’s no reason the fun, such as it is, can’t continue. So before all the summer wheeling and dealing alters the Flames, Canucks, Oilers, Wild and Avalanche as we know them, let’s engage in a completely pointless exercise and come up with an all-Northwest Division team.

This is the team we’d throw on the ice if there was some sort of weird high-stakes hockey tournament in July and our player pool was limited to the Calgary-Colorado-Edmonton-Minnesota-Vancouver quintet.

The rules are simple.

1) Any player who was on a Northwest Division roster at season’s end, regardless off their July 1 status, is eligible for selection.

2) A true attempt at team-building will be made. In other words, the fourth line won’t consist of one-dimensional types who believe they have a divine right to be on the first power-play unit.

3) An attempt will be made to respect positions, but only to a certain point. NHL coaches play fast and loose with left-wing/right-wing designations and centres are often slide over to one side or another, so why shouldn’t we be able to do it? The left side/right side considerations were largely ignored in terms of picking the blue-liners.

4) There’s a presumption full health for all the players at our disposal, so any medical misery during the past season or any pending surgeries this summer will be completely ignored.

5) If anyone disagrees with these picks, make your own goshdarn team. Heck, you’ll do that anyway.

OK, here goes:

First line (Marian Gaborik-Mikko Koivu-Jarome Iginla)

Remember the assumption of full health (a poor bet in Gaborik’s case if this were reality). Even though Iginla had a down year by his standards in 2008-09, he was still the division’s top point-getter. Gaborik has typically played right wing, but he’s a left-handed shot and so he gets the call on the port side. The inclusion of Koivu, who had a relatively modest 67 points this past season, may raise eyebrows but he’s an underrated two-way performer who would serve as the defensive conscience for the two wingers.

Second line (Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ales Hemsky)

There’s a temptation to include one Sedin and not the other, just to see if the earth would start spinning in the other direction or some other dramatic consequence. This combination would have to be tested in action because there’s a chance the Sedin Synergy and Hemsky’s considerable talent may not be that great a match. It sure would be fun to find out though.

Third line (Michael Cammalleri-Daymond Langkow-Rene Bourque)

This is where it gets dicey. Part of the problem is that 63-year-old Owen Nolan was the third-highest scoring right-winger (by official NHL classifications anyway) in the division in 2008-09. Instead of calling on Buster, we move the versatile Bourque, who has played both wings in the big leagues, over to the right side.

Fourth line (Alex Burrows-Ryan Kesler-Ian Laperriere)

Pity the opposition that has to deal with this combination of pests and world-class chatterboxes. Burrows’ tendency to get out of control on occasion is a concern, but the wily Laperriere would surely be a positive influence. The battle-scarred Laperriere can also fight, kill penalties and is an extremely popular figure in the dressing room. This obviously isn’t your typical energy line, either — Kesler and Burrows combined for 110 points in 2008-09.

Apologies to Paul Stastny, who probably deserves to be on the team somewhere.

Defence

Willie Mitchell-Lubomir Visnovsky Robyn Regehr-Denis Grebeshkov Sheldon Souray-Dion Phaneuf

As far as the back end goes, the most important factor is ensuring that Phaneuf and Souray aren’t matched up against the opposition’s best players and that a significant amount of their ice time comes on the power play. Checking some of the advanced metrics, it’s very tempting to squeeze in a player such as Nick Schultz, Cory Sarich or Sami Salo (remember the health proviso). It will be very interesting to read the counter-arguments from those of you who have much more practice at sifting through all the numbers to use as a complement to the instinctual selection process.

Goalies

Niklas Backstrom-Roberto Luongo

Miikka Kiprusoff may have gotten some mainstream support for Vezina consideration and Dwayne Roloson certainly deserves credit for his ironman run in the second half, but this isn’t close. The only debate is how you’d split up the workload between the two fellows.

So there you have it. Let the screaming begin.

32a247e515fecc03210581093e1a5ee8
Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
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#1 A Soviet Attack
May 16 2009, 11:43AM
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Sedin - Sedin - Iginla Gaborik - Koivu - Hemsky Cammellari - Horcoff - Bernier Stastny - Kesler - Hejduk

Regheir - Visnovsky Mitchell - Souray Grebeshkov - Phaneuf

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#2 Sexy Lady
May 16 2009, 12:10PM
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WHEREESSS MATS SUNDIN?!?1??!11??!!!

Lolz.

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#3 RossCreek
May 16 2009, 12:11PM
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Paul Stastny is a superstar. He has to be there. Brent Burns & Kevin Bieksa are 2 names on the back-end I'd surely have. Perhaps Olli Jokinen as a winger?

off the top of my head:

Gaborik-Stastny-Iginla Sedin-Sedin-Hemsky Bourque-Koivu-Jokinen Burrows-Kesler-Laperreierre

Phaneuf-Visnovsky Souray-Burns Bieksa-Regehr

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#4 Beukaboom
May 16 2009, 12:45PM
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You guys are all underestimating the 3rd line power of GlenX.

Sedin-Sedin-Iginla Gaborik-Statsny-Hemsky Glencross-Horcoff-Borque Burrows-Kesler-Stortini

Regehr-Vishnovsky Phaneuf-souray Mitchell-Grebeshkov

Luongo-Backstrom

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#5 Harlie
May 16 2009, 12:50PM
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Sexy Lady wrote:

WHEREESSS MATS SUNDIN?!?1??!11??!!! Lolz.

isn't he up at Whistler training ;)

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#6 Westcoastoil
May 16 2009, 04:09PM
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If you're playing the homer card and going with Vis, Souray and Grebs, does that mean that Gilbert is the D-man you'd trade to upgrade your top 6 forwards? What kind of player do you suppose Gilbert, 1 of Nilsson/Cogs/Sully plus a Brule/Schremp could bring in return?

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#7 R O
May 16 2009, 09:50PM
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Yeah, the conspiracy-minded Canucks supporters who are disciples of Tony Gallagher’s preachings can mutter about the deck being stacked in the Chicago series by league officials and whistle-blowers who wanted the darling Blackhawks to advance.

While conveniently ignoring all those too-many-mens the Canucks got away with. Those Vancouver journalists are a whole 'nother breed of asinine.

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#8 R O
May 16 2009, 09:58PM
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Also...

As far as the back end goes, the most important factor is ensuring that Phaneuf and Souray aren’t matched up against the opposition’s best players and that a significant amount of their ice time comes on the power play.

I also used to think that Phaneuf played against middling opposition last season and this one. Now he does rate middle-of-the-pack in terms of quality of comp this year. But last year one of the Oily bloggers at mc79hockey.com did a study on Phaneuf and found that he actually played against top comp and did quite well. I only ran across this article a few weeks ago (http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=2934). Perhaps he did deserve that Norris nomination (or at least, deserved to be in the conversation).

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#9 SumOil
May 17 2009, 12:30AM
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Cammaleri-H Sedin-Iginla D.Sedin-P Statsny-Gaborik R.Kesler-M Koivu-A Burrows R Smyth-S Horcoff-A Hemsky(there i said it)

Vishnovsky-Regier Burns-Grebeshkov Bieksa-Pheauf

Luongo Kipper

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#10 SumOil
May 17 2009, 12:36AM
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@ Westcoastoil: Absolutely. Gilbert is a very good defenceman. He is signed to a cap friendly long term deal. Gilbert should be enough to land us someone like Horton or Lehtonen + pick.

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#11 DFT
May 17 2009, 08:13AM
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Everyones healthy right, so wheres Sakic?

Gaborik-Sakic-Iginla sounds pretty good to me haha

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#12 Kent
May 17 2009, 11:26AM
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Kudos on the Koivu pick, Jean. He's a legit Selke nominee.

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#13 A Soviet Attack
May 17 2009, 01:01PM
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@ SumOil:

Are you kidding me? In what alternate reality does Burrows become a better player than Jesus H. Hemsky?

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#14 Lefebvre
May 17 2009, 04:30PM
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R O wrote:

But last year one of the Oily bloggers at mc79hockey.com did a study on Phaneuf and found that he actually played against top comp and did quite well.

While appreciating the value of underlying numbers, IMO the Phaneuf case is one where you just have to trust your own eyes. This past season in particular, but even going back to his Norris nomination year, the guy had some serious own-zone issues.

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#15 Lefebvre
May 17 2009, 04:37PM
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DFT wrote:

Everyones healthy right, so wheres Sakic?

It said healthy, not rejuvenated. Sakic will be 40 this summer and has played a little more than half a season (with good scoring numbers it must be said) over the past two years since his remarkable 100-point season as a 37-year-old. You can't out the possibility he'd still be an elite player, but it's no sure thing that he would be.

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#16 SumOil
May 17 2009, 08:19PM
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@ A Soviet Attack: No but he is better suited on a third line than Hemsky. Traditionally third line is the checking line or the 'shut down' line. Would you prefer Hemsky on it or Burrows?

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#17 kingsblade
May 17 2009, 09:53PM
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1. Sedin-Sedin-Iginla

- I like this line to do the heavy lifting.

2. Gaborik-Stasny-Hemsky

- this line should get the soft scoring minute to rqack up some points

3. Bourque-Langkow-Horcoff

- 2 way checking line

4. Burrows-Kesler-Laperriere

- hard to argue with this 4th line.

I was frustrated because I wanted to find a spot for Koivu but couldn't decide where to use him. I might prefer him on the third line instead of Bourque but that would leave the line with 3 centermen so it depends how well they adjust.

I'll do defense later.

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#18 Matt
May 18 2009, 02:06AM
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Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Horcoff Schremp

Grebeshkov Grebeshkov Grebeshkov Grebeshkov Grebeshkov Grebeshkov

It said nothing in the rules about picking the same player more than once. McElhenney in net.

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#19 Chris
May 18 2009, 10:10AM
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Smyth-Jager-Hemsky O'Sullivan-Gagner-Coglino Moreau-Horcoff-Pisani Penner-Brodziak-Stortini

Souray-Visnovsky Grebeshkov-Gilbert Smid-Staios

Roli Luongo (as backup)

Let's face it, Jager's NHL rights belong to the Oiler *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*...

~These are the absolute BEST players in the division... they just need the right coach~

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#20 Archaeologuy
May 18 2009, 12:11PM
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@ Matt: You have chose perhaps the ugliest team I have ever seen assembled since Mike Ricci cloned himself 20 times.

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#21 Matt
May 18 2009, 12:39PM
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@ Archaeologuy: I'd like a special exemption to make Mike Ricci my coach, even though he's working for the Sharks. Until I get a ruling though I'll go with Shawn Horcoff.

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#22 freeze
May 18 2009, 02:30PM
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@ Chris: That's the spirit!

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#23 A Soviet Attack
May 18 2009, 04:01PM
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@ Matt:

I suggest using Smid as back-up goaltender, towel boy, and President of Hockey Operations.

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#24 Phil
May 18 2009, 07:23PM
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Gaborik-Stasny-Iginla D.Sedin-Cammalleri-Hemsky Glencross-Koivu-P.M.Bouchard

....

4th line whatever

Ohlund-Regehr (massive shutdown pairing) Souray-Visnovsky (skill, nastiness, whatever you like) Phaneuf-Burns (young studs that have it all) Grebeshkov-Bieksa (nice combo I think)

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#25 Bob Cob
May 18 2009, 09:18PM
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Forwards D.Sedin - H.Sedin - Hemsky Smyth - Jokinen - Iginla Burrows - Gagne - Hejduk Wolski - Horcoff - Miettinen

Defence Visnovsky - Phanuef Souray - Ohlund Regher - Burns Smid - Bieksa

Goaltenders Luongo Harding

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#26 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
May 18 2009, 10:05PM
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@ Matt:

Thats what I call gearing up for a dynasty!

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#27 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
May 18 2009, 10:08PM
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P.S. Where the hell are the articles?!? The internets never sucked so bad.

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#28 SumOil
May 19 2009, 11:04AM
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@ Bob Cob: Your first line will not work. 3 'pretty play' players on the same line does not work well. One of three players needs to be gritty.

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#29 Bob Cob
May 19 2009, 02:53PM
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@ SumOil: Thats your opinion, the Hawks or the Wings dont have a ton of grit on there top line and they are doing fine, and we saw what happened to the Flames, a team with lots of grit. Besides Hemsky has shown the ability to be grity, with the willingness to muck it up, and the Sedins are both incredibly hard to knock of the puck. I would put my line-up up against yours anyday.

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#30 MrMackey
May 19 2009, 04:24PM
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Sedin - Sedin - Iginla Gaborik - Koivu - Hemsky Smyth - Jokinen - Stastny Wolski - Kesler - Horcoff

Vishnovsky - Regehr Phaneuf - Souray Burns - Mitchell

Luongo Backstrom

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#31 Matt
May 19 2009, 04:31PM
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@ A Soviet Attack: Joey Moss is president of hockey ops.

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#32 heavyd
May 19 2009, 06:02PM
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update the site

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