Last night, the Flyers and Capitals put on an exciting game. It was billed as a game between a pair of Eastern Conference powerhouses, and it lived up to all expectations. However, in the pre-game, all the Versus cronies in the studio got together, and decided to compare Danny Briere and Mike Knuble.
They all crowded around some giant table screen that had a picture of an ice rink. They made a circle around the net area, and pointed out that both players score a majority of their goals from within that close range. Thus, they concluded, that Briere and Knuble have a similar style, and are similar players. Are they serious?
In the Orange and Black Corner, standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing in at 179 pounds, a center, by way of Gatineau, Quebec, from the Philadelphia Flyers is Danny Briere. In the Red and White Corner, standing 6 foot, 3 inches tall, weighing in at 227 pounds, a wing, by way of Toronto, Ontario, from the Washington Capitals is Mike Knuble.
The fact that both of them score a majority of their goals from close range doesn’t make them similar at all. Knuble is a big, strong power forward. He parks his ass in front of the goalie, and dares anyone to move him. Shots come from all angles, and he deflects them in. When he carries the puck, he bulls his way through defenders to get a shot. Last night he scored by doing exactly that: he went through Sean O’Donnell, took a pass from behind the net and buried it, while getting cross-checked into the goalie.
Briere is a little guy, that generally cannot score physical goals. He scores a ton of goals by sneaking out from behind the net when goalies are caught off guard. He sits at the backdoor and sends one-timers past sprawling netminders. Yesterday, he also got a goal that’s typical for his style of play. He coasted towards the net from the wing, and re-directed a slap-pass into the top corner. He wasn’t in a stationary position screening the goalie where he could get hit. He was in motion, going towards the goal.
Look at the two guys faces, and you can judge just from that how different the guys are. Knuble’s job is to battle, and he’s got plenty of scars to show for it. From his position parked in front, he takes high sticks, cross-checks, and is always at risk of a shot from the point hitting him somewhere that doesn’t have padding. Briere clean cut, like a player that’s not involved in too much contact.
It’s about power vs. speed. Hard fought goals vs. skillful goals. Is it accurate to say that opposing teams need to be wary of these guys when they get near the net? Absolutely. But to say these guys are similar is extremely far-fetched. They are completely different, and need to be defended in totally different ways. For the Versus “analysts” to say otherwise is just plain stupid.
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