Young talent trumps 'experience' in the playoffs

duche.jpgPerhaps I’m in a mood to beat up on puck-based stereotypes today, but I think that fans of the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks and – yes – both lovers and haters of Sidney Crosby will find Behind the Net’s study of the most productive young (and old) players quite interesting. The blog looked at the highest point-per-game rates for players between the ages of 18-21 as well as the other end of the spectrum: players 38 and older.

For the young players, Crosby is in second place behind … Barry Pederson?

While Sidney Crosby’s greatness is readily apparent, it’s amazing how far Barry Pederson is ahead of the pack. The Pederson-Rick Middleton combination was amazing in the 1982-83 playoffs, but they came up against the eventual cup champion Islanders and went down four games to two. Pederson looked like a sure-fire hall of famer, but underwent numerous surgeries after a tumor was found in his shoulder and was never the same player. He would have just two playoff points after age 21.

Interesting stuff. Other notable names on the “young” list included Stan Mikita, Steve Yzerman, Bobby Orr and Nicklas Backstrom. The old fogies list includes the incomparable Jean Beliveau as well as modern players including Bill Guerin and third-place Nicklas Lidstrom (especially impressive considering the fact that, you know, he’s a defenseman).

In many ways, I feel that posts like this – as well as evidence from youthful dynasties like the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers of the ’80s – prove that the “experience” argument is overdone. Am I saying that having guys with Just for Men beards like Bill Guerin or Scott Niedermayer isn’t worthwhile? No, not at all. But like John Buccigross and others have pointed out plenty of times before, Wayne Gretzky and other stars almost always hit their primes in their early twenties. Some might scream “Detroit Red Wings!” but to me they’re an anomaly (and, besides, as important as Lidstrom has been this season, much of their resurgence can be tied to 25-year-old Jimmy Howard). Experience is valuable, but if you put a gun to my head, I’ll take the young legs every time.

So, yeah, if you’re a fan of high draft pick-heavy squads like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, Colorado and Los Angeles, go ahead and feel good about the future.

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    Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


    Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

    With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

    It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

    Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

    The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

    Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

    They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

    This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

    With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

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    You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

    With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

    Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

    Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

    In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

    Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

    Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

    Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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    So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

    The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

    No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

    He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

    Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

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    There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

    ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

    So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

    Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

    (But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)