The best lines in the league thus far; Couture and Johnson are Heroes and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.
Using the data available at Corsica Hockey, here is a look at some of the best (and worst) lines in hockey so far this season. It's early, so small sample warnings apply, especially when looking at goal results, but I've set a minimum of 100 minutes of 5-on-5 time on ice for each trio involved. (On an even smaller sample, the Penguins line of Carl Hagelin, Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, for example, controlled 71.2% of shot attempts in a little more than 64 minutes together.)
First, measuring shot differentials, here are the Corsi For% leaders, adjusted by score, zone and venue:
CF% LEADERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)
And the worst:
CF% TRAILERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)
Then, here are the Scoring Chance% leaders, again adjusted by score, zone and venue:
SCORING CHANCE% LEADERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)
And the worst:
SCORING CHANCE% TRAILERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)
Now, a look at Goals For% leaders, adjusted by score, zone and venue:
GOALS FOR% LEADERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)
And the worst:
GOALS FOR% TRAILERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)
Removing any kind of defensive component and adjustments, here are the lines with the best Goals/60:
GOALS/60 LEADERS, BY LINE
And the worst:
GOALS/60 TRAILERS, BY LINE
- Minnesota’s line of Nino Niederreiter, Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle has been outstanding, the only line to play at least 100 minutes that has yet to allow a goal against. It’s interesting to see the contrast in performance with Niederreiter on that line in place of Parise.
- The Calgary Flames line of Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik has been excellent. It’s not altogether surprising, but the rookie Tkachuk has fit in with two consistently strong two-way performers.
- Toronto’s territorial advantage comes from the top line of Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews and William Nylander, while they have a couple of lines on the wrong end of shots, but the right side of goals.
- Brandon Sutter playing with the Sedins has not provided remotely positive results in Vancouver.
- A couple of contrasts: Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry has controlled play, but had trouble scoring, while Winnipeg’s line of Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine has had poor shot differentials, but they can score.
From Wednesday’s games…
Chad Johnson – Calgary’s netminder posted a 39-save shutout in a 3-0 win over Toronto, and he’s starting to take control of the net, pushing a struggling Brian Elliott aside. Johnson has a .930 save percentage in 13 starts, and that’s how a backup earns more work.
Logan Couture – The San Jose centre put up two goals and an assist in a 4-1 win at Los Angeles, giving him seven points (5 G, 2 A) in the past six games. After managing just 2.63 shots on goal per game last season, Couture is back to a much more typical 3.21 per game this season.
Matt Murray – Pittsburgh’s rookie goaltender allowed four goals on 29 shots in a 5-3 loss at the Islanders; not the end of the world, but the first time this season (and second time in 22 career regular-season games) that he’s allowed four goals in a game.
Penguins C Sidney Crosby picked up two assists in a 5-3 loss at the Islanders, giving him 22 points in 17 games. The 1.29 points per game just below his career average (1.33) but well above where he’s been in the past couple of seasons…Islanders D Johnny Boychuk had a goal and an assist against Pittsburgh, after managing two assists in his previous 15 games…Islanders C Casey Cizikas also had a goal and an assist, ending a nine-game point drought…Islanders D Scott Mayfield contributed a pair of assists, the first assists he’s recorded in 13 career NHL games…Sharks RW Joel Ward earned a pair of assists in a 4-1 win at Los Angeles; he had two points (1 G, 1 A) in his previous nine games.
Ryan Carpenter – San Jose’s 25-year-old winger scored his first career goal, in his fourth career game, a 4-1 win at Los Angeles. He had seven points (2 G, 5 A) in 12 AHL games before getting promoted.
After checking out some players with low shooting percentages, due for better futures, yesterday, let’s take a look at some of the players riding high percentages that are likely to slow down.
Kevin Hayes – The Rangers centre is off to a terrific start, with 10 goals in 24 games, but his shot rate is down (1.50 per game) from last season and is shooting 27.8% after shooting 12.7% through his first two years.
Sidney Crosby – While No. 87 may be getting higher quality shots, he’s also getting more shots on goal overall – his 3.53 shots per game is his highest since he had a career-high 3.93 per game in 2010-2011. And yet, he’s scored 15 goals in 17 games thanks to shooting 25.0% when he normally falls a little below 15.0%.
Michael Grabner – The Rangers speedster has a dozen goals in 24 games, and while he creates a lot of high-quality chances – it has seemed, in recent years, that no one misses as many breakaways as Michael Grabner – he’s shooting 22.2% this year. That won’t last.
Kyle Turris – On a Senators team that can’t score, Turris has led the way with 10 goals in 23 games, but he’s shooting 22.2% when his career number is 10.8%, so the goals could be even more difficult in the future.
Scott Cullen can be reached at email@example.com