phil kessel

Tyler Bozak's return is paying dividends for the Leafs.

The hardest thing to do week in and week out is to slug through this time of year. It is a marathon and a grind. When you cut right down to the heart of the matter, the “Olympic Break” may just be what the doctor ordered. However, we do soldier on and deliver this week’s “Between The Lines”.


Lead Us Forwards….


Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel-James van Riemsdyk (Toronto) -- I did say last week that this trio may top the list for Week 16 and their 14 point week cemented that. The schedule was a big benefit but again they seem to convert chances better than anyone (aside from the James Neal-Evgeni Malkin duo). Phil Kessel led the week with eight points and Tyler Bozak had five. The thing is that Kessel had a whopping six assists in Week 16 and few saw that coming. These three have a bullish outlook for Week 17.


Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith-Brad Marchand (Boston) -- This may be the new “it” line or a passing fancy but this Beantown crew had 11 points in Week 16 then several more Monday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings. Brad Marchand had five points last week and then two more goals on Monday. He now leads the Bruins with 16 goals on the season. It seems pundits were calling for a trade but now that has gone silent. This line has speed, grit, playmaking skills, puck possession, and finishing ability. The only real question mark for the line is power play time but one cannot expect miracles all the time. Maybe that time will come.


Ryane Clowe-Adam Henrique-Michael Ryder (New Jersey) -- This trio makes the list this week with nine points and a resurgence of Ryane Clowe that few could have seen. Clowe overall has nine points in his last seven games and is the driving force of this line. Maybe that contract wasn’t all that bad. They really are the number one line in New Jersey right now (47.7% EV, 46.4% PP). Those numbers do not lie and not surprisingly Henrique and Ryder have brought their point totals close to their projections at this stage of the season. The schedule is actually more favorable than it looks for this line, culminating in an outdoor meeting with the New York Rangers on Sunday. Clowe will have extra motivation for that one!


Tyler Johnson-Ondrej Palat-Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay) -- There was that afternoon against San Jose where Martin St. Louis torched the Sharks for four goals, more commonly known as a pants trick. All kidding aside, somehow Johnson or Palat is going to get the coveted first line space when Steven Stamkos returns. Palat looks like he has the inside track but Johnson is no slouch. This is a situation to really keep an eye on. This Tampa first line has a week or two to go, so ride them while you can until the big change comes.


Defend This!


Roman Josi-Shea Weber (Nashville) -- The answer as to whether this pairing could at least sustain their output every so often was answered last week with a seven point effort as a duo. Both players had four points as Nashville had clicked for six power play goals in their last three games to close out Week 16. That is a lot for a team that has troubles scoring. Whatever is going on, something is working so you may as well get in on the hot streak before it goes cold. They were also the top duo as far as ATOI at a whopping 28:37 per contest on average. We will monitor how they do this week.


James Wisniewski-Jack Johnson (Columbus) -- So that mega high risk, high reward pairing is back sort of. Wisniewski and Johnson racked up a seven point week when they were on the offensive side of the ice. All of their points came while they were on the ice at the same time which was a bit surprising. Both guys can rack up a good bit of ice time and Columbus is riding a six game winning streak. They are a very hot team right now but at some point the bubble has to burst a bit.


Keith Yandle-Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix) -- Now here is another mega duo combination! I am surprised Phoenix did not try this sooner. They had six points together on the week and though this summary will be quick, the key here is how long does Dave Tippett continue this experiment. There seems to be a lot of combinations to be wary or be vigilant on. Stay tuned!

As always you can follow me @ChrisWasselTHW and thanks again for reading. Good luck this week as the fantasy hockey world goes on!

Recently from Between the Lines:


The Isles are firing on all cylinders 
Colorado's line juggling is paying off 
David Krejci and Jarome Iginla are building a connection in Boston 
Nathan MacKinnon is Finally Skating with Matt Duchene 

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