FanPost

A Look at the Top 19 NHL Teams' Successful Line Combos

Yikes, this article seriously got out of hand!! It started out just looking at the breakdown of each NHL team's line combinations into 4 different categories: +60% of 5 on 5 goals, 51 to 59% of 5 on 5 goals, 50% or break even in goal production, and a goal percentage less than 50%. Since that didn't really provide me any clear picture of how a good team is built, I went deeper and looked at the top NHL team's successful line combinations to see where they were getting their goal production from.

In the end, I think it did end up showing me some major issues with the how the Winnipeg Jets perform compared to the league's better teams, so it was probably worth the work. It also showed me that the elite teams aren't always built exactly the same, some are top heavy and others rely on scoring throughout their forward lineups.

If you're comfortable, we might as well get started because this could take a while...

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**number of line combos with a minimum of 69 minutes of 5 on 5 icetime.**

Team: +60% Goals / 51-59% Goals / Break Even / -50% Goals

Boston: 5 / 1 / 1 / 4

Calgary: 3 / 0 / 3 / 2

Carolina: 6 / 1 / 3 / 1

Colorado: 4 / 1 / 1 / 1

Dallas: 1 / 3 / 0 / 3

Edmonton: 5 / 2 / 2 / 4

Florida: 7 / 1 / 2 / 1

Los Angeles: 5 / 4 / 1 / 3

Minnesota: 4 / 1 / 0 / 3

Nashville: 4 / 2 / 0 / 4

NY Rangers: 6 / 2 / 1 / 4

Pittsburgh: 3 / 4 / 1 / 1

St. Louis: 4 / 1 / 0 / 1

Tampa Bay: 5 / 2 / 2 / 2

Toronto: 3 / 3 / 3 / 3

Vancouver: 6 / 0 / 2 / 2

Vegas: 7 / 0 / 3 / 2

Washington: 3 / 0 / 0 / 2

Winnipeg: 5 / 4 / 1 / 4

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Just looking at the list and trying to point out a glaring difference between the Jets and the playoff teams or near-playoff teams...I really can't say I see one. So, obviously a closer look at each team's successful line combinations is warranted. Possibly breaking it down between the composition of the good lines will help? Guess I'll try to identify how many top 6 players or bottom 6 players are involved.

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Boston:

Bruins top 6 players - Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, DeBrusk, Hall, & Haula.

Hall/Bergeron/Pastrnak (75% Goals in 98.9 mins)

Frederic/Coyle/Smith (71.4% Goals in 264.5 mins)

Hall/Haula/Pastrnak (66.7% Goals in 387.8 mins)

Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak (66.7% Goals in 250.3 mins)

Marchand/Bergeron/DeBrusk (61.1% Goals in 223.6 mins)

Marchand/Bergeron/Smith (58.3% Goals in 179.6 mins)

Hall/Coyle/Foligno (50% Goals in 76.9 mins)

When you look at the list above, it's fairly easy to see why the Boston Bruins are one of the NHL's better teams. They have the ability to field two top 6 lines that are getting better than 60% of the goals and can follow that with a dominant bottom 6 trio who light 70% of the red lights while on the ice.

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Calgary:

Flames top 6 players - Tkachuk, Gaudreau, Lindholm, Mangiapane, Backlund, & Coleman.

Mangiapane/Backlund/Coleman (72.7% Goals in 332.3 mins)

Lucic/Ruzicka/Lewis (71.4% Goals in 86.7 mins)

Tkachuk/Lindholm/Gaudreau (70.1% Goals in 877.6 mins)

Coleman/Backlund/Pitlick (50% Goals in 128.1 mins)

Coleman/Backlund/Lewis (50% Goals in 79.3 mins)

Mangiapane/Backlund/Toffoli (50% Goals in 105.3 mins)

The Calgary Flames are fielding two of the best top 6 lines in the entire league this season and both are netting 70% of the goals at 5 on 5. They have a bottom 6 trio that have done well in limited minutes, but the Flames mainly rely on their top 2 lines to carry the load.

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Carolina:

Hurricanes top 6 players - Aho, Svechnikov, Trocheck, Teravaiinen, Jarvis, & Domi (?).

Martinook/Stephan/Lorentz (100% Goals in 73.2 mins)

Teravainen/Aho/Niederreiter (88.9% Goals in 76.8 mins)

Fast/Staal/Niederreiter (73.3% Goals in 491.3 mins)

Necas/Trocheck/Svechnikov (66.7% Goals in 190.9 mins)

Teravainen/Aho/Jarvis (65% Goals in 156.4 mins)

Jarvis/Aho/Svechnikov (61.1% Goals in 134.1 mins)

Teravainen/Aho/Necas (57.1% Goals in 80.2 mins)

Svechnikov/Staal/Fast (50% Goals in 75.6 mins)

Teravainen/Aho/Svechnikov (50% Goals in 173.7 mins)

Lorentz/Staal/Fast (50% Goals in 104.2 mins)

When it comes to the Carolina Hurricanes, they seem to have a variety of options to put together 3 solid scoring lines with the bottom 6 providing a couple successful combinations. Including an impressive performance by 3rd liners Fast/Staal/Niederreiter (73.3%).

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Colorado:

Avalanche top 6 players - MacKinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog, Kadri, Burakovsky, & Compher.

Compher/Kadri/Burakovsky (75% Goals in 79.1 mins)

Landeskog/MacKinnon/Rantanen (66.7% Goals in 342.6 mins)

Burakovsky/MacKinnon/Rantanen (63.9% Goals in 223.6 mins)

Nichushkin/MacKinnon/Rantanen (61.5% Goals in 153.7 mins)

Burakovsky/Kadri/O'Connor (57.1% Goals in 79.5 mins)

Newhook/Compher/O'Connor (50% Goals in 99 mins)

Possibly the best team in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche heavily rely on their top 6 players to deliver their offense. The Avalanche can easily find successful combinations at the top of their lineup to cover up the lack of scoring from fully bottom 6 lines.

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Dallas:

Stars top 6 players - Robertson, Pavelski, Hintz, Benn, Seguin, & Gurianov.

Peterson/Benn/Radulov (60% in 85 mins)

Robertson/Hintz/Pavelski (59% in 709.4 mins)

Kiviranta/Peterson/Radulov (55.6% in 90 mins)

Benn/Seguin/Gurianov (51.7% in 296.6 mins)

The Dallas Stars are trying to hold onto a wildcard spot and it appears that it was mainly their top 6 players that got them this far. There are a couple small sample sizes of mainly bottom 6 trios doing well, but they aren't getting any consistent help from that group.

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Edmonton:

Oilers top 6 players - McDavid, Draisaitl, Puljujarvi, Kane, Yamamoto, & Hyman.

Kane/McDavid/Puljujarvi (88.9% in 136.5 mins)

Kane/Draisaitl/Yamamoto (75% in 119.3 mins)

Kane/McDavid/Yamamoto (61.1% in 163.6 mins)

McDavid/Draisaitl/Puljujarvi (61.1% in 161.1 mins)

Hyman/McDavid/Puljujarvi (61.1% in 242.3 mins)

Foegele/Nugent-Hopkins/Ryan (58.3% in 90.8 mins)

Nugent-Hopkins/Draisaitl/Yamamoto (54.5% in 242.3 mins)

Hyman/Draisaitl/Yamamoto (50% in 100.9 mins)

Foegele/Shore/Ryan (50% in 69.4 mins)

The Edmonton Oilers have had an up and down season this year, but that has more to do with their team defense and goalies. Their forward units can be assembled into 3 lines that get a minimum of 58% of the goals and they rely on that to make up for the occasional defensive miscue or poor goaltending performance.

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Florida:

Panthers top 6 players - Barkov, Huberdeau, Duclair, Verhaeghe, Bennett, & Giroux.

Mamin/Barkov/Verhaeghe (77.8% in 117.1 mins)

Marchment/Lundell/Reinhart (76.9% in 175.9 mins)

Duclair/Barkov/Huberdeau (72.7% in 84.3 mins)

Huberdeau/Bennett/Tippett (66.7% in 114.1 mins)

Duclair/Barkov/Verhaeghe (66.7% in 230.2 mins)

Duclair/Bennett/Huberdeau (63.3% in 255.4 mins)

Verhaeghe/Barkov/Reinhart (60% in 89 mins)

Marchment/Luostarinen/Reinhart (55.6% in 117.2 mins)

Lomberg/Luostarinen/Hornqvist (50% in 202.6 mins)

Huberdeau/Bennett/Reinhart (50% in 88.2 mins)

Amongst the best teams in the NHL, the Florida Panthers don't follow the normal pattern of having at least 1 top 6 line combo that has spent a lot of time together. However, most of their top combinations seem to work out well enough and when you combine that with a few options to try and fill the bottom 6 with lines that get 76.9 to 50% of the goals scored, you can see why they are hard to beat.

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Los Angeles:

Kings top 6 players - Kopitar, Kempe, Danault, Arvidsson, Athanasiou, & Iafallo.

Iafallo/Danault/Athanasiou (80% in 93.2 mins)

Arvidsson/Danault/Iafallo (75% in 113 mins)

Moore/Danault/Kaliyev (66.7% in78.1 mins)

Moore/Kupari/Grundstrom (66.7% in 85.7 mins)

Lemieux/Lizotte/Kaliyev (65.2% in 314.4 mins)

Arvidsson/Kopitar/Brown (57.1% in 113.3 mins)

Arvidsson/Danault/Moore (55.3% in 429.7 mins)

Kempe/Kopitar/Brown (54.5% in 167 mins)

Iafallo/Danault/Kempe (54.5% in 105.8 mins)

Iafallo/Kopitar/Kempe (50% in 436.1 mins)

With 9 combinations that score more than 50% of goals, the Los Angeles Kings have used a mix of top 6 players to form two effective lines. Helping that is one of the better bottom 6 trios of Lemieux/Lizotte/Kaliyev (65.2% of goals).

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Minnesota:

Wild top 6 players - Kaprizov, Hartman, Zuccarello, Fiala, Gaudreau, & Boldy.

Greenway/Eriksson Ek/Foligno (85.2% in 411.4 mins)

Foligno/Hartman/Greenway (71.4% in 69.1 mins)

Boldy/Gaudreau/Fiala (67.5% in 371.5 mins)

Kaprizov/Hartman/Zuccarello (67.2% in 588.8 mins)

Foligno/Eriksson Ek/Fiala (54.5% in 83.2 mins)

The Minnesota Wild display some depth at the forward position when they can field 3 top 9 lines that get 85.2 to 67.2% of goals scored. That includes the NHL's best bottom 6 trio of Greenway/Eriksson Ek/Foligno.

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Nashville:

Predators top 6 players - Forsberg, Granlund, Duchene, Johansen, Jeannot, & Trenin.

Cousins/McCarron/Tomasino (100% in 112.8 mins)

Kunin/Johansen/Tolvanen (66.7% in 197.6 mins)

Forsberg/Granlund/Duchene (63.6% in 420.6 mins)

Duchene/Granlund/Tolvanen (60% in 102.8 mins)

Forsberg/Johansen/Duchene (56% in 232 mins)

Jeannot/Sissons/Trenin (55.9% in 568.2 mins)

While the Nashville Predators haven't really gotten 3 lines rolling for the entire season, they do display the ability to field two consistently dominant trios and the group of Kunin/Johansen/Tolvanen show promise of a third in just under 200 minutes. If they can get their bottom 6 line of Cousins/McCarron/Tomasino going as well, then they could be hard to beat in the playoffs.

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New York:

Rangers top 6 players - Zibanejad, Kreider, Vatrano, Panarin, Strome, Copp/Kakko.

Kreider/Zibanejad/Vatrano (83.3% in 133.1 mins)

Panarin/Strome/Copp (75% in 85.8 mins)

Panarin/Strome/Kakko (70% in 162.4 mins)

Rooney/Goodrow/Reaves (66.7% in 133 mins)

Panarin/Goodrow/Strome (61.5% in 118.3 mins)

Kreider/Zibanejad/Kakko (60% in 251.6 mins)

Kreider/Zibanejad/Goodrow (58.3% in 95.3 mins)

Kreider/Zibanejad/Lafreniere (56% in 259 mins)

Lafreniere/Goodrow/Chytil (50% in 92.8 mins)

The list above shows that the NY Rangers can easily field successful top 6 lines by starting with the duos of Kreider/Zibanejad and Panarin/Strome. After that, they have 2 examples of bottom 6 groups that can hold their own against opponents.

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Pittsburgh:

Penguins top 6 players - Crosby, Malkin, Rust, Guentzel, Zucker, Rakell.

Zucker/Rodrigues/Kapanen (100% in 102.1 mins)

McGinn/Blueger/Aston-Reese (63.2% in 306.8 mins)

Heinen/Malkin/Kapanen (62.5% in 104.3 mins)

Aston-Reese/Boyle/Simon (57.1% in 100.2 mins)

Heinen/Carter/Zucker (55.6% in 85.8 mins)

Guentzel/Crosby/Rust (55.6% in 506.7 mins)

Guentzel/Crosby/Rodrigues (55% in 226.4 mins)

McGinn/Carter/Rodrigues (50% in 78 mins)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten things done this year by relying on the top 6 duo of Guentzel & Crosby. Whether they are playing with Rust or Rodrigues, this line narrowly (55%) wins the goal output battle, but the Pens have also gotten help from a very good bottom 6 line of McGinn/Blueger/Aston-Reese. Since Rakell hasn't played enough to be included in this review, I'm sure the coaching staff can figure out some middle 6 options with the likes of Malkin, Kapanen, Heinen, Rodrigues, Carter, & Rakell to work with.

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St. Louis:

Blues top 6 players - O'Reilly, Tarasenko, Saad, Perron, Buchnevich, & Thomas.

Buchnevich/Thomas/Tarasenko (65.9% in 292.6 mins)

Saad/O'Reilly/Perron (65% in 361.2 mins)

Buchnevich/Barbashev/Tarasenko (62.5% in 91.2 mins)

Barbashev/Schenn/Kyrou (60% in 136.4 mins)

Kyrou/Thomas/Tarasenko (55% in 151.3 mins)

When you look at St. Louis' five successful line combinations, you see that they have two top 6 and one bottom 6 options that can deliver at least 60% of the goals. With good goaltending and defense, that should give the Blues a decent chance at making another Cup run.

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Tampa Bay:

Lightning top 6 players - Kucherov, Stamkos, Point, Palat, Killorn, & Paul.

Palat/Cirelli/Killorn (75% in 80.3 mins)

Maroon/Bellemare/Perry (73.5% in 549.1 mins)

Killorn/Cirelli/Stamkos (71.4% in 213.6 mins)

Stamkos/Point/Kucherov (69.2% in 95.2 mins)

Katchouk/Colton/Raddysh (64.3% in 168.2 mins)

Palat/Cirelli/Point (54.5% in 154.3 mins)

Killorn/Stamkos/Joseph (53.3% in 138.8 mins)

Palat/Stamkos/Joseph (50% in 82.6 mins)

Killorn/Cirelli/Joseph (50% in 78.9 mins)

Tampa Bay has dealt with a lot of injuries this year, ensuring that only 2 of the lines above have played significant minutes together. Fortunately that includes a great bottom 6 group of Maroon/Bellemare/Perry that have scored an amazing 73.5% of goals over a huge amount of icetime. With the talent they have over the top 9, Coach Cooper has plenty of options to find the right combinations during the Lightnings' pursuit of yet-another Stanley Cup.

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Toronto:

Maple Leafs top 6 players - Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Bunting, Kerfoot, & Mikheyev.

Kerfoot/Tavares/Mikheyev (83.3% in 91.4 mins)

Bunting/Matthews/Marner (65.9% in 552.6 mins)

Bunting/Matthews/Kase (60% in 73.9 mins)

Kerfoot/Tavares/Marner (58.3% in 86 mins)

Engvall/Spezza/Simmonds (53.8% in 120.9 mins)

Kerfoot/Tavares/Nylander (51.1% in 398.5 mins)

Engvall/Kampf/Kase (50% in 145.9 mins)

Engvall/Kampf/Nylander (50% in 70.2 mins)

Engvall/Kampf/Mikheyev (50% in 181.3 mins)

When you look at Canada's most covered team, the Toronto Maple Leafs show that they mainly rely on the Matthew's line to deliver the offense consistently. The first line listed hasn't played a huge amount together, but could provide a possible high scoring 2nd line. And when you can add a couple bottom 6 combinations that at worst break even in the goal battle, then a Leafs' fan might just start to dream about seeing the end of a seriously long Cup drought.

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Vancouver:

Canucks top 6 players - Boeser, Pettersson, Miller, Garland, Pearson, & Horvat.

Pearson/Horvat/Hoglander (100% in 101.8 mins)

Motte/Lammikko/Highmore (77.8% in 259.7 mins)

Pearson/Miller/Garland (66.7% in 163.8 mins)

Garland/Pettersson/Podkolzin (66.7% in 106.6 mins)

Pearson/Horvat/Garland (61.5% in 137.9 mins)

Pettersson/Horvat/Boeser (60% in 75.8 mins)

Pearson/Miller/Boeser (50% in 197.4 mins)

Pettersson/Miller/Boeser (50% in 132.2 mins)

The Vancouver Canucks haven't really been able to keep most of their lines together for long periods. They stumbled onto a gem of a bottom 6 group with Motte/Lammikko/Highmore pocketing 77.8% of goals. The top 6 players can be formed into two effective scoring lines, so that should give the Nucks three good lines to try and work their way into a wild card spot.

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Vegas:

Golden Knights top 6 players - Marchessault, Stone, Pacioretty, Stephenson, Karlsson, & Smith/Eichel.

Eichel/Stephenson/Dadonov (88.9% in 89.1 mins)

Marchessault/Roy/Smith (73.3% in 107.8 mins)

Janmark/Roy/Dadonov (71.4% in 112.5 mins)

Carrier/Howden/Kolesar (70% in 74.4 mins)

Marchessault/Karlsson/Amadio (66.7% in 78.8 mins)

Carrier/Stephenson/Dadonov (66.7% in 73.2 mins)

Pacioretty/Stephenson/Stone (64% in 203.2 mins)

Carrier/Stephenson/Roy (50% in 74.1 mins)

Marchessault/Karlsson/Smith (50% in 446 mins)

Karlsson/Eichel/Marchessault (50% in 69.6 mins)

While the Vegas Golden Knights' line combo (Marchessault/Karlsson/Smith) with the most minutes is just a break even line, they have shown numerous examples of better performing lines in limited minutes. The Vegas coaching staff has had to deal with plenty of roster turnover due to injuries/trades and that has left them still searching for the perfect combination for all 4 lines with plenty of talent to choose from. A couple good bottom 6 options on the above list should help things, but they better figure it out quickly because they are running out of time to catch Los Angeles or Dallas for a playoff spot.

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Washington:

Capitals top 6 players - Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Wilson, Backstrom, Oshie, & Sheary.

Ovechkin/Kuznetsov/Protas (71.4% in 88.5 mins)

Hagelin/Dowd/Hathaway (68.4% in 344.3 mins)

Ovechkin/Kuznetsov/Wilson (62.8% in 434.3 mins)

The Washington Capitals provide a unique look, with only 3 successful line combinations this season and 2 of those involving Ovechkin/Kuznetsov. Fortunately for them, two of those lines have outplayed opponents to get 62 to 68% of goals. Add to that the bonus of having a productive bottom 6 trio and the hope that players like Backstrom & Oshie can step up in the playoffs to form another good group, the Caps will try to make it hard to knock them out of the playoffs.

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Winnipeg:

Jets top 6 players - Scheifele, Dubois, Connor, Ehlers, Wheeler, & Stastny.

Vesalainen/Lowry/Harkins (100% in 74.6 mins)

Ehlers/Scheifele/Stastny (75% in 127.1 mins)

Connor/Dubois/Perfetti (75% in 147.5 mins)

Ehlers/Dubois/Connor (66.7% in 84.2 mins)

Ehlers/Dubois/Copp (62.5% in 78.8 mins)

Ehlers/Copp/Stastny (55.6% in 99.7 mins)

Connor/Scheifele/Wheeler (55.6% in 114.7 mins)

Svechnikov/Dubois/Connor (53.3% in 322.8 mins)

Scheifele/Stastny/Wheeler (52% in 272.4 mins)

Ehlers/Scheifele/Copp (50% in 110.1 mins)

Lastly, we get to our Winnipeg Jets. The list above shows 6 very productive units, but all of them have played limited minutes. While Winnipeg's top 2 lines in terms of icetime - Svechnikov/Dubois/Connor & Scheifele/Stastny/Wheeler - have outscored opponents, they have barely managed to do so. From everything I've seen so far in this review, it shows that the powerful NHL teams have at least 2 lines that dominate (at least 60% of goals) their opponents. Typically, this is done from the top 6 pairings, but as we have seen, that's not always the case. Winnipeg falls flat in this department and that leaves them no room to have bottom 6 pairing that get routinely outscored. The fact that the Jets' coaching staff hasn't figured a way to make the bottom 6 even break even in the goal department combines with the top 6's small margin of success to give us fans a team that just isn't good enough to play with the top echelon of the NHL.

The thought popped into my mind that the loss of Perfetti might have been a death blow to the Jets chance of making the playoffs this season, as the trio of Connor/Dubois/Perfetti put up impressive numbers (75%) in their time together.

While the Jets do have one well-performing bottom 6 pairing on the list, they played under 100 minutes and involves the disappointing Vesalainen, who has since been demoted to the Manitoba Moose (and continued to struggle there).

Winnipeg has work to do in so many areas, but most of that will have to wait for the off-season. However, it seems that there might be a way to make this roster work for the final games of this season (if you ignore Scheifele & Perfetti's injuries), if the following lines could continue the success they had in limited minutes:

Ehlers/Scheifele/Stastny (75% in 127.1 mins)

Connor/Dubois/Perfetti (75% in 147.5 mins)

??????/???????/??????

Vesalainen/Lowry/Harkins (100% in 74.6 mins)

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With players like Wheeler, Svechnikov, Sanford, Appleton, Barron, Gustafsson, & Toninato available to make that last line (and possibly replace Vesalainen on the 4th line), what would you do?

Also, feel free to point out anything interesting that you noticed in the data provided? Do you like the way any specific team is built and why do you favour them? Who do you think has the best chance at winning Lord Stanley's Cup? Any players that you think Winnipeg should try and target via trade?

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.