It’s interesting to see which line combinations have meshed well and performed under the pressure of the postseason. Some lines are newly slapped together, while others have been together throughout the season, or at least part of it. Some trios will be together again in the fall, while some will be broken up as a result of picky coaches or unrestricted free agency. Let’s take a look.
If you have yet to fiddle around with the tools in the DobberHockey Frozen Pool section, then you haven’t experienced what is one of the most helpful programs for fantasy hockey. Period. I ran a quick report running the most productive lines of the entire postseason, and then I ran another one narrowing that down to just the last three weeks. I did that to hinder any eliminated players from cracking the list. Here are the results, along with my thoughts on what is in store for them.
10. David Krejci – Miroslav Satan – Milan Lucic
The line is now defunct thanks to David Krejci’s wrist injury, but the three of them were really humming along. Lucic was crashing and banging ever since the postseason started, Satan found the 25-year-old sniping Satan from within, while Krejci took most of the season to find his stride after offseason hip surgery last summer. The three of them found their mojo at about the same time. If they bring Satan back (he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer), this line could be revived in the fall. If that happens, Satan should have one more 50-point year in him and Lucic, if healthy, will set a career high and also top that number.
9. Pavel Datsyuk – Johan Franzen – Tomas Holmstrom
Detroit has mixed and matched their line combos between their top six at times and so this particular combo is surprisingly low at ninth. The NHL’s leading scorer (tied with Jonathan Toews) is Franzen, who was up to his usual playoff tricks. Holmstrom is a UFA in the summer, so it’s entirely possible that the line will not be together again. Looking at the regular season line combos, you’ll see that the Wings were surprisingly consistent at keeping these three together. When Franzen was in the lineup, they were a combo for about two thirds of the games.
8. Jonathan Toews – Patrick Sharp – Patrick Kane
Another surprise low, considering how Toews is tied for the league lead in points. But they also appear in 11th spot with a fourth forward – Dave Bolland, indicating a four-forward power play. Add the combos together and remove Bolland’s power-play points and this trio is actually first. This has been a combination that Chicago often turns to, although not as much as when Toews and Kane were rookies. With Chicago facing a cap crunch, it could be Sharp who is on the move. So I would rate the odds of seeing this line together again next year as “low”.
7. Henrik Zetterberg – Valtteri Filppula – Todd Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi will be a UFA in the summer and I just don’t see him coming back unless Nicklas Lidstrom does not return (thus freeing up a ton of money). But the Filppula/Zetterberg combination is very intriguing and if the returning Jiri Hudler plays on the other wing and it clicks – this line will be very prolific. Again, you have to stick Filppula on your dark horse list.
6. Joe Pavelski – Devin Setoguchi – Ryane Clowe
Detroit finally found a way to shut these three down in the last two games, but it was at the cost of perhaps giving the Joe Thornton – Patrick Marleau – Dany Heatley line some more room. Were it not for the last two games, this line would rank in the Top 3 in production for the last three weeks. Will they be together next year? No. The Sharks won’t be able to keep Marleau, which means Setoguchi or Clowe will be promoted to the first line. That being said, Pavelski will still be a stud next campaign and surprise you with his numbers. Check my recent THN piece for more on him.
5. Sidney Crosby – Bill Guerin – Chris Kunitz
Possibly the best line of the first round, but only because of Sid’s dominance. Guerin is a UFA and I would be shocked and disappointed if the Pens brought him back. Kunitz will always be tried on the Crosby line, with off-and-on success.
4. Henrik Sedin – Daniel Sedin – Mikael Samuelsson
This line combo was tried more than a few times during the regular season. About 12 percent of Samuelsson’s shifts were with the twins. And while it has worked in a big way for much of this postseason, you are already seeing Samuelsson moved to different lines (he played Friday with Michael Grabner and Kyle Wellwood). If you draft Samuelsson thinking that he’ll be with the twins all next season and get 80 points, you are in for a huge wake-up call. Expect more of the same next season for Samuelsson – three or four six-game spurts on that line and maybe 15 percent of his shifts. His production will be about the same as it was this year.
3. Alexander Ovechkin – Niklas Backstrom – Mike Knuble
The only line that produced for the Caps as their second line failed to show up in the first round. Knuble has one more year left on his contract and I think he will spend a big chunk of it playing with these two studs.
2. Henrik Zetterberg – Johan Franzen – Todd Bertuzzi
A seven-goal game will do this. A third appearance in the Top 10 by the Red Wings and an example of how the Wings love to juggle their top six.
1. Tomas Plekanec – Mike Cammalleri – Andrei Kostitsyn
Three weeks ago today, A.K. had his four-point game and that’s enough to put this line combo at No.1 in the last 21 days (not my opinion – these are hard stats). As a trio on the ice together when they scored, these guys totalled 19 points. Despite his horrible slump, Kostitsyn is still being played on the line, a consistency from a coach that is all too rare in today’s NHL. Plekanec is an unrestricted free agent in the summer and there is a good chance that Cammy and A.K. will be looking for a new pivot next campaign.