A Tale of Two (Hypothetical) Seasons

A Twitter conversation between @Ein_Bearhoff and @SabresAmerks gave me an idea about the Sabres. What if the Sabres moved Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson to pick up Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash and replaced forwards with defensemen. In other words, the Sabres would be left without a true center and would be using a few defensemen as forwards. This leads to an interesting hypothetical situation that certainly merits some investigation. Thankfully I have NHL 12 at my disposal to investigate such insane ideas. While I did not entirely eliminate centers, what follows is two rather interesting hypothetical situations.

While two simulations are a very small sample size, I thought it would be sufficient for a “what if” scenario. Keep in mind, of course, that I did not change the rosters of any teams so there could be some variation in the results. For both simulations I set the difficulty  to Superstar and the game mode set to Hardcore, no other options were changed. I set the standard Defensive Strategy to “Contain Puck,” Penalty Kill to “Diamond,” and the Forecheck to 1-2-2. By NHL 12 standards I did not eliminate all of the centers, as they have Matt Ellis listed as a center. For these simulations I substituted my created team (named the Buffalo Pylons) for the Sabres, to eliminate any interaction between the two teams.

Forward Lines:

  1. Thomas Vanek-Ville Leino-Jason Pominville
  2. Rick Nash-Steve Ott-Bobby Ryan
  3. Nathan Gerbe-Matt Ellis- Drew Stafford
  4. Adam Pardy-Patrick Kaleta-John Scott

Defensive Pairs:

  1. Tyler Myers-Andrej Sekera
  2. Jordan Leopold-Christian Ehrhoff
  3. Mike Weber-Robyn Regehr

Power Play:

  1. Vanek-Pominville-Ryan; Myers-Ehrhoff
  2. Leino-Nash-Stafford; Leopold-Sekera

4 Man Power Play:

  1. Pominville-Ryan; Myers-Ehrhoff
  2. Nash-Vanek; Leopold-Sekera

Penalty Kill:

  1. Ott-Kaleta; Myers-Regehr
  2. Nash-Ryan; Weber-Ehrhoff

3 Man Penalty Kill:

  1. Ott; Myers-Regehr
  2. Kaleta; Weber-Ehrhoff

Extra Attacker:

  1. Vanek
  2. Nash


  1. Ryan Miller
  2. Jhonas Enroth


  1. Ryan
  2. Nash
  3. Vanek
  4. Pominville
  5. Stafford

Obviously I realize the problem with doing manual rosters is that you would have to assign a starting goalie for every game. Since I did not do this, Miller will have started every game during both seasons. The results are below, with all places assigned in the Eastern Conference.

Season 1: Regular Season

  • Place: 5th at 100 points
  • Home record: 28-11-2
  • Road record: 19-18-4
  • Goals For: 227 for 9th
  • Goals Against: 218 for 4th
  • Power Play %: 18.5 for 8th
  • Penalty Kill %: 84.8 for 2nd
  • Shorthanded Goals Against: 2 for 2nd best
  • Shorthanded Goals For: 0 for 15th

Season 1: Playoffs

  • Round 1: Defeated Boston 4-2
  • Round 2: Defeated Washington 4-2
  • Round 3: Lost to Pittsburgh 4-0

Season 2: Regular Season

  • Place: 4th at 105 points
  • Home record: 29-10-2
  • Road record: 22-18-1
  • Goals For: 244 for 5th
  • Goals Against: 201 for 4th
  • Power Play %: 20.2 for 9th
  • Penalty Kill %: 80.5 for 10th
  • Shorthanded Goals Against: 1 for 3rd best
  • Shorthanded Goals For: 3 for 9th

Season 2: Playoffs

  • Round 1: Defeated New York Rangers 4-3
  • Round 2: Defeated Washington 4-2
  • Round 3: Defeated Boston 4-2
  • Stanley Cup Finals: Defeated Calgary 4-1

Again, I realize that two seasons are not much of a statistical basis to draw any conclusions on. Regardless, I still think this was an interesting exercise in what could happen. I take any of the NHL 12 simulations with a grain of salt, but it is always interesting to see what they predict.

Edit: I should also note that with this configuration you are left with two roster openings and about $1 million in cap space, so this might not exactly be an ideal configuration for a team if injuries occur.

In Tylers we trust.



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