Lining Up – Top Line Combinations from Around the League

by Brennan Des on November 27, 2018
  • Lining Up
  • Lining Up – Top Line Combinations from Around the League

 

In this week’s instalment, we take a look at a few hot lines in the NHL. Using Dobber’s Line Production Tool, we compared even-strength point production around the league over the past 10 games. I compiled a list of the highest scoring line for each team at even strength. Here’s the list…

 

#

Team

Line

Points

1

Winnipeg

Kyle ConnorBryan LittlePatrik Laine

26

2

Colorado

Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan Mackinnon – Mikko Rantanen

24

3

Montreal

Jonathan DrouinMax DomiAndrew Shaw

24

4

Philadelphia

Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny

24

5

Columbus

Artemi PanarinPierre-Luc DuboisCam Atkinson

18

6

Minnesota

Jason ZuckerEric StaalMikael Granlund

18

7

Florida

Mike HoffmanAleksander BarkovEvgenii Dadonov

16

8

Calgary

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanElias Lindholm

16

9

Dallas

Jamie BennTyler SeguinAlexander Radulov

16

10

Vegas

Max PaciorettyCody EakinAlex Tuch

15

11

Carolina

Jordan MartinookLucas WallmarkAndrei Svechnikov

14

12

Toronto

Zach HymanJohn TavaresMitchell Marner

13

13

Edmonton

Drake CaggiulaConnor McDavidLeon Draisaitl

13

14

Tampa Bay

Tyler JohnsonBrayden PointNikita Kucherov

12

15

Washington

Alex OvechkinNicklas Backstrom – Tom WIlson

12

16

Buffalo

Conor ShearyCasey MittelstadtKyle Okposo

11

17

Islanders

Anthony BeauvillierValtteri FilppulaLeo Komarov

10

18

Nashville

Colton Sissons – Nick BoninoAustin Watson

10

19

Ottawa

Mikkel BoedkerMatt Duchene – Drake Batherson

9

20

Pittsburgh

Tanner PearsonEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel

9

21

Detroit

Andreas AthanasiouFrans NielsenGustav Nyquist

9

22

Boston

Jake DeBruskDavid Krejci – Joakim Nordstrom

8

23

San Jose

Evander KaneJoe PavelskiJoonas Donskoi

8

24

Rangers

Chris KreiderKevin HayesFilip Chytil

7

25

New Jersery

Marcus JohanssonPavel ZachaJesper Bratt

7

26

St. Louis

Jaden SchwartzRyan O’ReillyVladimir Tarasenko

7

27

Vancouver

Loui ErikssonElias PetterssonNikolay Goldobin

7

28

Chicago

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane

7

29

Los Angeles

Carl HagelinAdrian Kempe – Matt Luff

6

30

Anaheim

Pontus AbergAdam HenriqueNick Ritchie

5

31

Arizona

Lawson CrouseDylan Strome – Vinnie HInostroza

3

 

 

 

 

Jonathan DrouinMax DomiAndrew Shaw

 

While this line has been dominating their opposition on the scoreboard, they certainly haven’t been outplaying opponents in terms of scoring chances. They’ve controlled just 45.95% of the shots while on the ice, and have given up more high-danger chances than they’ve created (34 against vs. 23 for). By some miracle, they’ve capitalized on seven of those 23 opportunities, and conceded goals on just four of the 34 chances against them. While the advanced numbers aren’t very encouraging, I have to say they seem like the perfect combination on the ice. Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin are both extremely skilled players who seem to have good chemistry. Andrew Shaw is able to create space for them and provides a great net-front presence that often results in a goal off a rebound.

Max Domi has 26 points in 24 games this season. He’s outscoring guys like Tyler Seguin (23) and Taylor Hall (23), who were drafted much earlier in your leagues. To say he’s had a good start to the season would be an understatement. He’s only two games removed from an 11-game point streak! In Yahoo! Leagues, Domi’s average draft position was 175. He was drafted after guys like Zach Hyman, Milan Lucic, and Alexander Steen. To be fair, I don’t think anyone could have predicted how good Domi would as a Canadien, especially at center. He seemed like a 50-point player in Arizona, so it’s crazy to think he’ll be a 70-point player this year. He has been given a much bigger role in Montreal than he ever had as a Coyote, and you can tell he loves the pressure and energy of a bigger hockey market. His power play ice-time is up a whole minute from last year, and he’s on pace for 184 shots, which would be a career-high. With that being said, regression is bound to strike at some point this season. Both his 5 on 5 shooting percentage (13.41%) and individual shooting percentage (20.4%) are a lot higher than they should be.

If I had to pick one player that benefited most from Max Domi’s success at center, it would definitely be Jonathan Drouin. The Canadiens were finally able to conclude their experiment of Drouin as a center, and boy was that experiment a failure. As a Habs fan, Drouin has to be one of the most frustrating players on the team to watch. He has shown flashes of offensive brilliance, making moves that not many others have the ability to make. But then other nights, he just seems lazy defensively. Fortunately, your fantasy league doesn’t penalize you for blown defensive coverage, so you’re probably just enjoying Drouin’s 20 points in 24 games. Drouin has been given the role of power-play quarterback in Montreal, a power-play which should improve when Shea Weber returns and the team actually has a threatening shot from the point. The advanced stats don’t scream regression as much for Drouin as they did for Domi, so I could see Drouin being a 60-point guy this season. Domi seems to spark this line more than Drouin does, so once Domi goes through a cold stretch, I think Drouin will too.

Andrew Shaw has 11 points in his last nine games, but if you’re expecting more of that going forward, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Shaw, at best is a 40-45-point player who might be valuable for stretches in deeper leagues. Unfortunately, once Domi hits a cold stretch, I think Montreal shuffles their lines a bit, and Shaw will be moved away from the offensive talent he is currently playing beside. 

 

 

Artemi PanarinPierre-Luc DuboisCam Atkinson

In my not so expert opinion, this line is one of the most underrated lines in the league. Sure, they’ve been good this season, creating more scoring chances than their opponents and controlling the majority of shot attempts. But we’re only a quarter-way through the season, so the sample size is still small, right? Heck, no. This line has been dominant since the beginning of last year, and they’ve played over 500 minutes together – so the sample size is far from small. Since last season, they’ve controlled 54.57% of shot attempts (good), 56.79% of scoring chances (good) and scored twice as many goals as they’ve allowed (very good). It’s also interesting to note that over 70% of their face-offs have been taken in the offensive zone, so coach John Tortorella is putting them in a position to score.

Cam Atkinson has 24 points in 22 games, 13 of which came in his last seven games. His 15 goals have him tied for sixth in the category, a tie which also includes John Tavares and Nathan Mackinnon. When Atkinson returned to the lineup last season (after breaking his foot), he joined a line with Panarin and Dubois. There were 33 games left in the season when he returned, and would you care to guess how many points he put up in those 33 games? 33. While I don’t expect him to maintain this point-per-game pace, I believe a career-high of 65-70 points is more than attainable. His average draft pick in Yahoo! Leagues was 117… that’s excellent value for a high quality right-wing.

Artemi Panarin was traded for Brandon Saad. I’m so sorry, Blackhawks fans. I can’t believe it happened either. Artemi Panarin is a superstar – one of the top left-wingers in the NHL. Since the beginning of 2018, Panarin has 71 points in 63 games. That’s better than other highly-regarded left-wings like Johnny Gaudreau (68 in 65) and Jamie Benn (61 in 66). While there is some uncertainty surrounding Panarin’s future in Columbus, I think he’s shown the ability to carry offense by himself (which seemed to be a concern when he was traded away from Patrick Kane). So, no matter where he lands, I think he has the potential to be an 85-90-point player. In the event that Panarin does leave Columbus, I might slightly lower my expectations for Atkinson and Dubois.

Pierre-Luc Dubois’s spot on this top line is going to help him avoid the sophomore slump. While he started last season with just 4 points in 20 games, he closed out the campaign with 17 points in his final 20 games (while playing alongside Panarin and Atkinson). Dubois’s power-play time is up a full minute from last season, and he’s been shooting the puck a lot more. While he might not maintain the 67-point pace he’s currently on, I could definitely see him finishing the season breaking the 60-point barrier this season. Remember he’s only 20 years old, so there will be room for growth in the future. Dubois is even more valuable in leagues that count face-off wins, because he wins face-offs from the wing. You expect centers on your team to win face-offs, but getting seven or eight from the left-wing each game can help you win the category. 

 

 

Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny

So far this season, Philadelphia’s inability to keep the puck out of their net has greatly overshadowed how good their top line has been. If the Flyers’ goalies hadn’t allowed the second-most goals in the league (3.57/game), would Rox Hextall still be the General Manager of the team? As a trio, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny have outplayed their opponents. They’ve controlled just under 60% of shot attempts and 58% of scoring chances. What I like most about this line is the fact that they have chemistry. Last season (in 500 minutes) they outshot, out-chanced and comfortably outscored their opponents, despite starting only 45% of their shifts in the offensive zone. The fact that they can contribute to the team even when they aren’t scoring, allows me to believe they won’t be split up when the Flyers struggle.

If I had to compile a list of players who don’t get the respect they deserve, Claude Giroux would be near the top of that list. Last season, he was outscored by only one player: Connor McDavid. Giroux tallied 102 points in 82 games. 102 points! I know what you’re thinking, “last season was an anomaly and he’s not going to score on 17.9% of his shots this year”. Well, with 28 points in 23 games this season, he’s on pace for another 100-point campaign. His shooting percentage? 11.4. Much more sustainable. None of the advanced stats are screaming regression either, so while it’s not going to be easy, I don’t think another 100-point season is out of the question for Giroux.

At the beginning of the season, expectations weren’t extremely high for Sean Couturier. Most managers projected Couturier to decline after a career-high 76-point showing in 2017-2018. After a serious knee injury in August, his value fell even further. Many were looking at his stats from previous seasons and treating 2017-2018 as an anomaly, observing that he’d been on pace for 40-50 points during most of his career, with last season being the exception. So far this season, Couturier has 18 points in 23 games – a 64-point pace. Going forward, I think he’ll be closer to a 70-point player than a 50-point player. Playing beside Claude Giroux should certainly help his numbers.

Travis Konecny is a great player, but his role is much smaller than Couturier’s and Giroux’s. Konecny is only 21, so it makes sense that he’s seeing just under 16 minutes of ice-time, compared to the 20+ minutes of his line mates. With that being said, he’s being given a bigger opportunity than he was last year. He’s shooting the puck more and is currently on pace for a 50-point season. At first glance, 14 points in 23 games doesn’t seem very impressive, but six of those points came in his last four games, so maybe we should be expecting more going forward.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza for the latest injury updates and line combinations!