Saturday, February 14, 2009

Offensively Challenged

TSN had an interesting column on Friday that ranked the best lines in the NHL based on even strength scoring with a minimum of 400 shifts together (the data is from Here are the best lines:

San Jose: Marleau, Thornton, Setoguchi 112 points

New Jersey: Parise, Langenbrunner, Zajac 112 points

Pittsburgh: Malkin, Dupuis, Crosby 112 points

Boston: Lucic, Savard, Kessel 98 points

Detroit: Hossa, Datsyuk, Holmstrom 98 points

Boston: Wheeler, Ryder, Krejci 98 points

Washington: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin 85 points

Washington: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kozlov 73 points

Detroit: Franzen, Datsyuk, Holmstrom 72 points

Philadelphia: Gagne, Knuble, Richards 68 points

So how do the top two lines for the Preds stack up? Keep in mind that there have been several different incarnations of our top two lines, so I have aggregated the scoring at even strength by the various line combination's and will call them first line and second line:

First line: 82 points

Second line: 52 points

Based on even strength scoring, our top line would rank in the top 10 lines in the NHL in point production. There is a significant drop off in the production of the second line, which has been reflected in wins this season. The top line for the Preds is going to draw the opponent's top D pairing, so for the Preds, production is essential from the second line to continue their march to the playoffs.

Management has made a significant investment in players like Legwand and Erat that comprise significant components of the second line. These players have to step up their game and show this investment was justified. This team (and these players) have to continue to work hard, and most importantly, have to produce for the Preds to have a shot at the playoffs.

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