The Malkin/Neal duo, Downie clicks with Couturier/Read and more - line combos from around the league
Between The Lines Week 9
The turkey is almost ready but the fantasy bests of the week never wait. That is even when problems arise. There were a few delays so we have to quickly write this column so fantasy hockey players can get ready for Wednesday’s huge slate of games. Are you ready? Let’s go “Between The Lines” then in a Pennsylvania state of mind, sort of.
Lead Us Forwards….
Evgeni Malkin-James Neal-Sidney Crosby-Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh) -- It just seems almost unfair but when on power play or empty net situations, this quartet had 13 points while on the ice together. This is one of the scariest four man forward units on a power play that I have seen in over a decade. All Evgeni Malkin and James Neal did was scorch the NHL to the tune of nine points each. Sidney Crosby had a half dozen points while Chris Kunitz had five points. There were few answers for this four man unit and with a lot of games from now until Christmas, expect more of the same.
Sean Couturier-Matt Read-Steve Downie (Philadelphia) -- By now, everyone has seen that insane record that Steve Downie has this year between Colorado and Philadelphia at 15-2-1 or so. The trio helped lift the Flyers up to the .500 mark before losing to Florida the other night. Their 13 points combined was not an accident either as Matt Read has always had the talent along with Sean Couturier. The catalyst is all Steve Downie, who when he checks his temper at the door, because there are plenty of above average indicators including hands and cycling. This could be a line to keep an eye on in Philadelphia.
Jussi Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-Jamea Neal (Pittsburgh) -- For those even strength situations, Neal and Malkin wreaked just as much havoc as when on the power play. Jussi Jokinen was used a bit more often and with the injury to Beau Bennett (out up to 8-10 weeks), Jokinen will see more fantasy relevance as their frequency ramped up to 35.3% at even strength. They did manage ten points in Week 8 and with the chemistry between these three players, Week 9 looks just as bright because no matter the opposition, this line is a threat, period.
Claude Giroux-Scott Hartnell-Wayne Simmonds-Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia) -- We have not left the state of Pennsylvania yet, have we? That answer is no as this four man power play unit had a solid eight point bounty which means the Flyers man advantage woke up. Actually the past few weeks have seen quite the improvement which is vital if the team is going to make the playoffs. Furthermore, it has given Claude Giroux owners hope of an 80+ point season again. That is always good news for a fantasy pick that was in the first or second round across the board.
Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook (Chicago) -- “Chelsea Dagger” could be hears for fantasy owners who owned one or both of this duo. They combined for five points during Week 8 and again could keep providing this relatively consistent production as their line production projects out well for the month of December. Sometimes that is all it takes in fantasy circles to keep owners happy. The other stat fillers then keep them content. Chicago is too dynamic and rely too much on that pairing which means good news from all angles.
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin (Minnesota) -- Suter is going to have to be relied upon more with the news that Zach Parise is out 2-3 weeks with a bruised foot. Basically Ryan Suter may play close to 35 minutes a night for the next three weeks at this rate and their frequency numbers are off the charts with a 51.1% even strength number. That percentage is likely to go up in Week 9 so the opportunities will be there for as much or more production. Let’s see what actually happens.
Dustin Byfuglien-Tobias Enstrom (Winnipeg) -- They are back together but the concerns with Tobias Enstrom still remain. One point in his last 10 games is a heavy concern and no goals with few shots in that span just makes his owners a bit squeamish. The irony is he has been mostly healthy but on the bright side, Dustin Byfuglien is at it again with a six point week on two goals and four assists. Byfuglien is getting better defensively little by little. Fantasy owners need “The Buff” to be a true stat filler and Week 8 was an excellent one. Week 9 may prove more difficult.
As always you can follow me @ChrisWasselTHW and thanks again for reading. Good luck this week and Happy Thanksgiving!