Good day to all the readers and a Happy New Year’s Eve. Aaron is back after a nice Christmas break. In this week’s installment I have compiled a list of the top lines over the last 10 games at even strength. I will also look at a few injuries and a returning player.

Rank

Team

Line

Points

1

PIT

GUENTZEL,JAKE – MALKIN,EVGENI – RUST,BRYAN

28

2

BOS

BERGERON,PATRICE – MARCHAND,BRAD – PASTRNAK,DAVID

22

3

VGK

PACIORETTY,MAX – STEPHENSON,CHANDLER – STONE,MARK

22

4

CGY

LINDHOLM,ELIAS – MANGIAPANE,ANDREW – TKACHUK,MATTHEW

17

5

FLA

ACCIARI,NOEL – HUBERDEAU,JONATHAN – TROCHECK,VINCENT

17

6

BUF

EICHEL,JACK – OLOFSSON,VICTOR – REINHART,SAM

16

7

TOR

HYMAN,ZACH – MARNER,MITCHELL – MATTHEWS,AUSTON

16

8

WPG

CONNOR,KYLE – LAINE,PATRIK – SCHEIFELE,MARK

15

9

CAR

AHO,SEBASTIAN – NIEDERREITER,NINO – TERAVAINEN,TEUVO

14

10

MTL

DANAULT,PHILLIP – GALLAGHER,BRENDAN – TATAR,TOMAS

14

11

STL

KYROU,JORDAN – SCHENN,BRAYDEN – SCHWARTZ,JADEN

14

12

T.B

CIRELLI,ANTHONY – KILLORN,ALEX – STAMKOS,STEVEN

14

13

VAN

BOESER,BROCK – MILLER,J.T. – PETTERSSON,ELIAS

14

14

ARI

KELLER,CLAYTON – SCHMALTZ,NICK – SODERBERG,CARL

13

15

CHI

KANE,PATRICK – KUBALIK,DOMINIK – TOEWS,JONATHAN

13

16

CBJ

DUBOIS,PIERRE-LUC – ROBINSON,ERIC – TEXIER,ALEXANDRE

12

17

MIN

FOLIGNO,MARCUS – HARTMAN,RYAN – RASK,VICTOR

12

18

NYI

BARZAL,MATHEW – EBERLE,JORDAN – LEE,ANDERS

12

19

WSH

BACKSTROM,NICKLAS – OVECHKIN,ALEX – WILSON,TOM

12

20

COL

BELLEMARE,PIERRE-EDOUARD – CALVERT,MATT – NICHUSHKIN,VALERI

11

21

N.J

COLEMAN,BLAKE – GUSEV,NIKITA – ZAJAC,TRAVIS

9

22

OTT

BROWN,CONNOR – PAGEAU,JEAN-GABRIEL – TKACHUK,BRADY

9

23

NSH

BLACKWELL,COLIN – SMITH,CRAIG – TURRIS,KYLE

8

24

EDM

KASSIAN,ZACK – MCDAVID,CONNOR – NYGARD,JOAKIM

7

25

L.A

KEMPE,ADRIAN – LIZOTTE,BLAKE – WAGNER,AUSTIN

7

26

NYR

FAST,JESPER – PANARIN,ARTEMI – STROME,RYAN

7

27

S.J

GOODROW,BARCLAY – KANE,EVANDER – MEIER,TIMO

7

28

PHI

COUTURIER,SEAN – GIROUX,CLAUDE – KONECNY,TRAVIS

6

29

DAL

COGLIANO,ANDREW – COMEAU,BLAKE – FAKSA,RADEK

4

30

ANA

GETZLAF,RYAN – SHORE,DEVIN – TERRY,TROY

3

31

DET

BERTUZZI,TYLER – FABBRI,ROBBY – LARKIN,DYLAN

3

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Jake Guentzel – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust

As Malkin said when Crosby went out ‘I need to be fire’. This line certainly has been scoring a combined 28 points at even strength over their last 10 games. It’s not like any one player is driving the offence either. All three players are well over 50 percent in chances for. Of course, Guentzel went down last night with what looked like a scary head-first collision with the boards but he was able to skate off the ice on his own. I had been wondering how the lines would be deployed as Sidney Crosby is due to come back any day now. Looks like we will have to wait a little longer to see the whole team together. We’ll talk about that a little later.

Jake Guentzel

Last night Jake scored his 200th career point on a wide-open net. After the goal was the moment he slammed into the boards after running into Ottawa Senators defender Thomas Chabot. It was a scary looking collision so let's hope he’s just a little banged up and doesn’t need to miss much time. Meanwhile that point was also his 20th goal on the season and his 14th at even strength. He also has 19 apples at even strength. His shooting percentage is two points lower than last year's mark, but it is right around his career average of 15.6. Guentzel is in his fourth year and, if healthy, is poised for a great season as he is currently on pace for 90 points.

Evgeni Malkin

The ‘Fire’ man himself Evgeni Malkin is not showing any signs of slowing down. He has been dominant since returning from injury at the beginning of November. Malkin is scoring points at a pace of 1.46 points per game which puts him in third in this category right behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Malkin has 9 even strength goals to go with 21 assists. He is shooting at a percentage of 12.1 which is 2 points lower than his career average. He is on pace for 101 points, which would be his first 100-point season in eight years. I hope he gets it. I have always been a huge fan of his; when he is healthy, he is one of the more dominant players in the league.

Bryan Rust

Already up to 32 points on the season in 25 games Bryan Rust looks to be having a breakout year. He certainly has been put into a position to score but he’s been here before. At times over the last few years he’s been given great opportunities lined up with either Malkin or Crosby. He hasn’t been able to sustain his great play for long periods of time until this year. Rust also missed almost the first month of the season but has been in fine form since his first game. Right now he is riding a hot streak scoring 15 points over his last nine games. He is already up to 16 goals on the season which is two behind his career best. He is scoring on 19.3 percent of his shots, which is six points higher than his career average. (I would watch out for this number to slide a little.) He is currently on pace for 82 points which would best his career high by 44 points. I wouldn’t say he is a sell high candidate just yet as he may be able to sustain the pace if he sticks with Malkin for the season.  

 

Calgary Flames

Elias LindholmMatthew Tkachuk – Andrew Mangiapane

Since the firing of Head Coach Bill Peters, the Calgary Flames have been playing much better hockey. New interim coach Geoff Ward has scrambled up the lines a tad and has found some chemistry with the above line. Scoring a combined 17 points at even strength to lead the flames in this category over the last 10 games.

Elias Lindholm

Often playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, where he put up career numbers last season with 78 points. Lindholm wasn’t able to garner the same success to start this season and has since been moved to this new line. Thirty percent of his even strength point production has came being paired with Tkachuk and Mangiapane. For the season Lindholm is up to 10 goals at even strength and has 20 points. Over his last five games he has eight points so it looks like he is heating up. He is currently owned in most leagues but you may be able to make a run at him as a possible buy low candidate before he really starts to take off.

Matthew Tkachuk

The ‘Wrecking Ball’ Matthew Tkachuk is already up to 78 hits on the season. He is a great peripheral stat stuffer and he also gets it done in the points column. His current pace of 71 points puts him just shy of last seasons mark of 77. On the year he is up to 12 even strength goals and 11 assists. He is also on pace for 218 shots and if he can keep his shooting percentage at 13.9, he should be on pace for his second 30 goal season of his career. In keeper league you may have a hard time prying him from his owners hands but you may be able to take a run at him in one year leagues.

Andrew Mangiapane

Earning a midseason callup last year. Mangiapane looks like he’ll be a full-time contributor for the Calgary Flames. He has played in 39 of the teams 41 games so far only missing two with an undisclosed injury. He hasn’t exactly been a stat stuffer so far but over his last five games he has five points. Mangiapane is up to 15 points on the season but it might be worth taking a flyer on him in the short term as he is paired up with the above two players. He is currently only owned in 10 percent of Fantrax league so it shouldn’t be too hard to pick him up if you need any short term replacements.

*

Injuries and Returnees

As I mentioned above Jake Guentzel left last nights game with an injury after colliding with the boards head first. He was able to skate off the ice on his own which is a great sign. If he is to miss any time I would imagine we will see Alex Galchenyuk join Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. There is good news in Pittsburgh though as Sidney Crosby has been practicing with the team over the last few days and will hopefully be ready for game action some time early in the new year.

 

David Krejci has been reported to miss today’s game against the devils. It looks like it is a lower body injury and he is currently day to day. Look for Par Lindholm to move up to the second line. Might not be a bad idea to look at pairing him with Jake DeBrusk in daily leagues.

 

Ilya Mikheyev suffered a serious laceration to his wrist that required surgery. It looks as though he will miss at least three months for recovery. Alexander Kerfoot was moved up to a line with John Tavares. If this is for the long term, it might be worth taking a flyer on Kerfoot.

 

Jeff Skinner suffered an upper body injury last Friday against the Bruins. It looks like he will be out for a minimum of 3-4 weeks so expect him back near the end of January. I don’t think there is anyone on the Sabres worth picking up in his place so best to look elsewhere. See Kerfoot above as a possible replacement for Skinner.

 

Viktor Arvidsson returned to the Nashville Predators line-up just before the Christmas break. In four games since returning he has three goals and has been paired up with Ryan Johansen and Calle Jarnkrok. Arvidson gives the Predators another scoring threat so look for things to get a little easier for their offence as they spread out the team scoring and make it more difficult for teams to defend.

 

Thanks for reading this week’s ‘Lining up’ and remember to follow me on twitter @KINGTUNA4

 

Aaron Boyle