|Lucic vs. Burrows||Tweet|
|Written by Steve Laidlaw|
|Wednesday, 13 April 2011 11:09|
Welcome to Cage Match, a new article series pitting the fantasy merits of players up against each other and seeing what shakes out. The first rule of Cage Match is you definitely do talk about Cage Match. Spread the word, I love the attention!
Now I won’t lie, I’m feel a little bit like Shang Tsung from the Mortal Kombat series. Maybe I don’t have my own private island, and I’m definitely not eating anyone’s soul (or so you think!) but I do have this column, and a proverbial cage within which I will pit the greatest combatants in our world against each other in a fight for supremacy.
Milan Lucic – LW – Boston Bruins – 6’3” 228 lbs. Drafted 50th overall 2006.
Alex Burrows – LW – Vancouver Canucks – 6’1” 190 lbs. Undrafted.
This is an interesting match because this is one of the few comparisons where we’d rather see these guys literally thrown into a cage to do battle. It’s actually a shame they play in opposite conferences. They’ve only played each other three times over the course of their careers and have never fought. That’s one I’d pay to see!
Both Lucic and Burrows broke onto the scene three years ago (2008-09), combining the ability to mesh with the elite players on their respective teams with their well established propensity for pugnacity. This pushed their point production well beyond their preconceived limits. Lucic and Burrows quickly became rotisserie monsters. A LW who could get you 20 goals and over 100 PIM was (and still is) pure gold but the fact you almost certainly were able to pluck them for free off the waiver wire for free had you falling head over heels.
After that season, some bought the koolaid but others didn’t and it’s really been a mixed bag ever since. Beyond that fabled 2008-09 season Burrows and Lucic have alternated disappointing injury plagued seasons with ludicrous stat stuffed ones.
In 2009-10 Burrows became the “Third Sedin” as he compiled a rotisserie season for the ages with 35 goals, 67 points to go along with all his juicy peripherals. That season, however, Lucic took a step back, battling injuries and recording only 20 points and 44 PIM over a 50 game season.
2010-11 was a brand new season for both of them though. Burrows quickly discovered what the injury bug was all about, missing the first 10 games of the season with shoulder surgery and falling short of the lofty expectations he’d set for himself, reaching only 48 points and 77 PIM. Lucic went the other direction playing a full season again and set career highs with 30 goals and 62 points while getting back in the PIM column with 121.
Recency bias may lead you to believe that Lucic is the better own but don’t be so quick to jump to that conclusion. Pitting their best seasons against each other, it’s very difficult to discern a clear winner.
Lucic is the better powerplay performer as he garners 2:30 minutes of PP ice time per game while Burrows skates for a mere minute per game on the man advantage. SOG are in Burrows’ favour but Lucic is rapidly gaining in this category.
Plus/Minus is largely dependent on teammates, so good luck resolving that one. Now havin said that, Burrows has only once been a minus player and has spent the last three seasons north of plus-20. Lucic has been much more volatile in this statistic so far in his career so let’s give this one to Burrows
Burrows also has the advantage of a better track record in goal scoring having scored at least 25 in each of the last three seasons but Lucic hitting 30 this season and having much more powerplay time has him narrowing this gap.
PIM have long been in Burrows’ favour but that’s slipped from his grasp. The past four seasons have seen Burrows’ PIM total fall steadily from 179 in ’08, down to just 77 this season. His responsibilities have grown over the years and he can no longer be the menace he once was. This season was Lucic’s opportunity to take PIM by the horns and he did not disappoint.
I’m scoring that one 2-2-2, dead even. It’s largely still anyone’s guess who’ll survive this epic battle over the long haul but I believe that age is the deciding factor. Many people don’t realize (because of how late he broke into the NHL) that Burrows is 30. He has seven years on Lucic, or rather Lucic has seven more years to dole out his particular brand of punishment on opponents, his and yours alike. At only 22 years old, Lucic has already become one of the premier power forwards in the NHL and has a bright future ahead of him.
Also consider what Lucic accomplished this season without any elite point producing teammates. He led the Bruins in goals and tied for the team lead in points. Burrows had two teammates in the top four in scoring, and three in the top 15. Lucic clearly did more with less this season.
I give them both the extreme upside of 40 goals, 75 points and 200 PIM, but if I were to bet on one getting there, it would definitely be Lucic. I like to play by the old rule of thumb that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and until this season Burrows was firmly in hand. Then Lucic came flying out of the bush and squatting right in my palm. What’s a man to do? If I’m in a one year pool, next season, I hold fast with Burrows but anything beyond that I’m taking Lucic figuring there’s more to come.
Russ Miller said:
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