Capitals USA Today


Chris Wassel breaks down the best NHL line combinations.


The dog weeks are upon us for fantasy hockey enthusiasts. Playoffs are, in some cases, just a few weeks away. Shortened seasons are tough on everyone. There are no easy shortcuts, no nothing! It seems like a lot of the same old same old on “Between The Lines” with one or two new wrinkles this week. Here come the details!


Forward March…….


Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis-Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh) -- There was no Evgeni Malkin last week so no problem for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they went undefeated on the week. The Crosby line totaled 16 points when together on the ice as Crosby and Kunitz both had eight points each. However, what should surprise people is the fact that Pascal Dupuis had a whopping six goals. I bet no one saw that coming this week at all. The Crosby is line is automatic production with Crosby being the key that runs the engine.


Curtis Glencross-Matt Stajan-Lee Stempniak (Calgary) -- Glencross is a sleeping fantasy producer that often gets overlooked in leagues. Maybe after this week, he won’t so much. After a four goal week and a six point week from Matt Stajan, this line is generating some buzz. They had 14 points when on the ice at the same time overall. Honestly the top line in Calgary is not the Jarome Iginla line but it is this line. The key is will the line be able to sustain the production? Something tells me no but decent outputs can be expected.


Brian Gionta-Tomas Plekanec-Michael Ryder (Montreal) -- It seems that Montreal just finds ways to win and finds one line each week to produce a 10+ point week. This week the Gionta line does the deed with 12 points. Plekanec and Ryder both had five points this week and that should not be shocking as it seemed they had favorable matchups. Gionta, captain of the Montreal Canadiens has been excellent at retrieving pucks and setting up plays. Those grit guys are priceless and a healthy Gionta has meant positive returns for Plekanec in particular.


Dustin Brown-Justin Williams-Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles) -- The top line makes an appearance this week with a solid 12 points. Unlike Brian Gionta, Dustin Brown is capable and willing as he cranked out five goals and seven points buoying the Kopitar line. To be fair, Williams had six points and Kopitar had five points. However, Brown had four of his five goals when the trio was all on the ice. In order for Los Angeles to make the playoffs, they have to keep scoring to offset Jonathan Quick. No one expected that statement.


Alex Semin-Jiri Tlusty-Eric Staal (Carolina) -- Here they are again with 11 points in Week 8 and no signs of really slowing down. They seem to always be in the top five somewhere and Semin was the best of the line with six points. Eric Staal had five points while Jiri Tlusty had four points. Overall, in our rankings, they have been the most consistent line in fantasy hockey. They have been more preserved lately, only playing (41.1% EV and 53.7% PP with Tim Brent). Week 9 still looks bullish.


Lead Us Defenders……


Andrei Markov-P.K. Subban (Montreal) -- The duo did it again with six points this week, leading the way for defensemen. Overall, Subban had five points while Markov tallied three. When you are paired on the PP at nearly ¾ of the time like these two talented players are, results are almost expected. By the way, they are not paired very often, if at all on even strength so keep that in mind.


Ryan Suter-James Brodin (Minnesota) -- Few defensemen benefit from playing a ridiculous amount of time on ice with the first line of forwards like Ryan Suter does. That does not matter in fantasy as he blitzed his way to an eight point week. The two players here had six points together but Suter makes the pairing offensively. Whether its on the power play or at even strength, Suter has not been dull even if his +/- leaves a little to be desired at times. Suter will get his points as he is joined at the hip with Zach Parise’s line.


Rob Scuderi- Slava Voynov (Los Angeles) -- The Kings had two very good high output games on the week and Voynov was involved in both. Voynov had five points in four games while this pairing had six points in total. Slava Voynov has one of the most booming shots I have seen in the last 15-20 years and my only pet peeve is he does not unleash it often enough. Some now believe that the best defensemen in Los Angeles may be Voynov and not Drew Doughty. Does this sound familiar?


As always you can follow @ChrisWasselTHW and fire away those questions. Good luck this week.

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