Our forward lines are pretty much evenly matched up when you compare them to those of Detroit, Chicago, and Vancouver but the bluelines were very different. Our opponents' bluelines have definitely been what got us.
How exactly did our blueline matchup to teams we faced in the playoffs over the past couple seasons? I did a little research to compare some of them:
Against Detroit, their deadliest blueline weapons were Lidstrom, Stuart, Salei, and Kronwall while Ericsson and Rafalski weren't showing up for the playoffs as much. I am still not so sure on how we were able to out-blueline them since their stats were kind of different compared to our topline Boyle/Murray, though White, Vlasic and maybe Wallin were able to come in as clutch players for the defense (stats-wise). Were the two series with Detroit more of a battle of the offenses?
We know Chicago had Byfuglien, Seabrook, Keith, Hjalmarsson and Campbell. They were all pretty consistent in the regular season and playoffs during their 2010 Cup campaign (though Keith's performance took a small dive after they won it), so they answered with 4-5 well rounded defenseman against our 2 best well rounded in Boyle and Blake. But as we may know, this caused off-ice problems for them as they lost Byfuglien to free agency, almost lost Hjalmarsson, and eventually traded Campbell.
For Vancouver, Bieksa and Hamhuis were both on huge breakout years which practically came out of nowhere when you look at their previous seasons' stats. Salo's age seemed to have caught up with him, Rome was fairly decent, Edler wasn't all that great, and although Ehrhoff had his share of strikes in the offensive zone, he seemed to be on vacation in his own zone during the playoffs. So when you look closely, Vancouver only had about half the blueline power of Chicago; as evidenced by Chicago holding us to 7 goals in 4 games, while we striked Vancouver with 13 goals in 5 games.
My main question is, which teams' bluelines in our own conference (aside from Detroit) are going to be our biggest challenges this coming season?
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