Friday, September 4, 2020

Mailbag: Would you win a Stanley Cup with a team of 20 Connor McDavids, including in net?

It’s been a busy week for me around here, with deeply reported features on important subjects like hockey sudokus and annoying commercials. We should probably end the week with something a bit lighter, so let’s do a mailbag.

(Man, doing sudokus and complaining about commercials? I might officially be old and crotchety. Here’s hoping my loyal readers can make me feel young again.)

I’ve been reading DGB since 2013, when I was in fifth grade. – Josh B.

Bad start!

Could a team of all Connor McDavids, including in net, win the Stanley Cup? Personally, I think it’s an obvious yes, so let’s make it interesting. Where do you draw the line? Could Team MacKinnon win it all? Zibanejad? Kopitar? Subban? Barkov? Girgensons? – Josh B.

Solid recovery, Josh. But I don’t know if this is the obvious yes you think it is. Connor McDavid in goal would be terrible. Have you ever had your regular goalie no-show your rec league game, and somebody who doesn’t usually play goal has to gear up and go in? It’s always a disaster. Granted, a pro athlete with excellent conditioning and instincts isn’t quite the same as your buddy with the beer gut. But when was the last time McDavid played goal on skates? Maybe when he was eight or nine, if ever? Put it this way, there’s a reason why when a real NHL team ran out of goalies, the Hurricanes went with a 42-year-old Zamboni driver who vaguely knew what he was doing instead of Sebastian Aho or Jacob Slavin.

So yeah, Goalie McDavid gets absolutely shelled against NHL competition. He’s probably lucky if he posts a save percentage north of .600 against NHL opponents. So the question becomes whether those 18 McDavids in front of him can dominate enough to make up for it, and I don’t think that’s completely out of the question. The team-wide speed would be insane, and opponents couldn’t even game-plan for it. When you’re facing one McDavid, you can work the matchups and get your best defensive players out there as often as possible, and just try to break even until he goes off. With a whole team full, you’re eventually going to have put your fourth line out there. And they’re not facing one McDavid, but five. There would be a lot of shifts where the other team never touched the puck.

By the way, do we assume that the cloned McDavids all have that matching DNA mind-reading powers than the Sedin twins had? I think we have to. I’m factoring that in.

Bottom line, I could see Team McDavid winning a few games where they outshoot the opposition by like 80 to 15 and win 8-7. But could they do it four out of seven, four times in a row? It’s a tough ask. I think it’s possible, but I’m not calling it likely. And once you get past a team full of MacKinnons, Crosbys, and a handful of others, I’m not sure anyone is going to be good enough to make up for having a sieve in net.

(Wait, do you pull the goalie and play the whole game 6-on-5, maybe with one McDavid hanging back as a rover in his own end? Hmm…)

Which Stanley Cup final, if the results were reversed, would most change hockey history?

From the Red Wings’ perspective, the two losses (’95 to New Jersey, which could have stopped the trap from popularizing; ’09 to Pittsburgh, which would’ve given us years of wondering if Crosby could win) both seem like things could have been different with a Red Wings victory. – Gord F.

This is a good one. I’ve come up with a top ten, limited to the modern era.

10. 2016 and 2017 (tie) – The Predators and Sharks are still good teams that never managed to win the big one. Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby’s multiple Cups allow him to ascend from the superstar tier to sit among the all-time greats.

9. 1974 – The first Cup win by an expansion team didn’t exactly redefine how hockey was played, but watching the Broad Street Bullies brawl their way to a title certainly had an impact on how the game would be played for the rest of the 70s and well into the 80s.

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