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Scott Cullen

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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)

LINE TEAM TOI CF%
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak Boston 169:29 64.1%
Niederreiter-Staal-Coyle Minnesota 126:02 63.8%
Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik Calgary 169:31 60.3%
Benn-Seguin-Eaves Dallas 148:00 57.3%
Arvidsson-Johansen-Neal Nashville 123:19 57.2%
Hyman-Matthews-Nylander Toronto 183:03 56.0%
Ritchie-Getzlaf-Perry Anaheim 145:34 55.7%
Lucic-McDavid-Eberle Edmonton 132:11 54.9%
Marchessault-Barkov-Jagr Florida 182:28 54.5%
Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson Vancouver 136:08 54.4%

And the worst:

 

CF% TRAILERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)

LINE TEAM TOI CF%
van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Marner Toronto 229:23 47.8%
Komarov-Kadri-Brown Toronto 111:35 47.3%
Sedin-Sedin-Sutter Vancouver 101:51 46.9%
Ehlers-Scheifele-Laine Winnipeg 116:48 45.6%
Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds Philadelphia 115:55 43.6%

Then, here are the Scoring Chance% leaders, again adjusted by score, zone and venue:

 

SCORING CHANCE% LEADERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)

LINE TEAM TOI SCF%
Brown-Dowd-Setoguchi Los Angeles 119:17 70.5%
Arvidsson-Johansen-Neal Nashville 123:19 65.3%
Foligno-Larsson-Gionta Buffalo 168:25 64.0%
Ritchie-Getzlaf-Perry Anaheim 145:34 63.6%
Niederreiter-Staal-Coyle Minnesota 126:02 63.5%
Nash-Stepan-Vesey N.Y. Rangers 100:34 63.3%
Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik Calgary 169:31 62.9%
Lucic-McDavid-Eberle Edmonton 132:11 62.0%
Skinner-Rask-Stempniak Carolina 136:46 61.9%
Hyman-Matthews-Nylander Toronto 183:03 59.0%

 

And the worst:

 

SCORING CHANCE% TRAILERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)

LINE TEAM TOI SCF%
Voracek-Couturier-Konecny Philadelphia 197:43 38.4%
Panarin-Anisimov-Kane Chicago 136:18 36.5%
McKegg-MacKenzie-Harper Florida 108:49 35.6%
Sedin-Sedin-Sutter Vancouver 101:51 33.7%
Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds Philadelphia 115:55 33.7%

Now, a look at Goals For% leaders, adjusted by score, zone and venue:

 

GOALS FOR% LEADERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)

LINE TEAM TOI GF%
Niederreiter-Staal-Coyle Minnesota 126:02 100.0%
Skinner-Rask-Stempniak Carolina 136:46 79.6%
Kunitz-Malkin-Kessel Pittsburgh 136:32 77.0%
Lucic-McDavid-Eberle Edmonton 132:11 76.1%
Panarin-Anisimov-Hossa Chicago 123:14 75.7%
Moulson-O'Reilly-Okposo Buffalo 105:14 72.4%
Saad-Wennberg-Foligno Columbus 214:23 72.2%
Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg Anaheim 232:57 72.0%
Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik Calgary 169:31 71.1%
Calvert-Karlsson-Anderson Columbus 110:20 68.4%

And the worst:

 

GOALS FOR% TRAILERS, BY LINE (SCORE-VENUE-ZONE ADJUSTED)

LINE TEAM TOI GF%
Brown-Dowd-Setoguchi Los Angeles 119:17 41.2%
Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson Columbus 135:43 40.7%
Voraceck-Couturier-Konecny Philadelphia 197:43 39.2%
Sedin-Sedin-Sutter Vancouver 101:51 34.0%
Parise-Staal-Coyle Minnesota 110:02 29.8%

 

Removing any kind of defensive component and adjustments, here are the lines with the best Goals/60:

 

GOALS/60 LEADERS, BY LINE

LINE TEAM TOI GOALS/60
Ehlers-Scheifele-Laine Winnipeg 116:48 6.16
Skinner-Rask-Stempniak Carolina 136:46 5.26
van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Marner Toronto 229:23 4.45
Komarov-Kadri-Brown Toronto 111:35 3.76
Kunitz-Malkin-Kessel Pittsburgh 136:32 3.52
Panarin-Anisimov-Kane Chicago 136:18 3.52
Voracek-Couturier-Konecny Philadelphia 197:43 3.03
Nash-Stepan-Vesey N.Y. Rangers 100:34 2.98
Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik Calgary 169:31 2.83
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak Boston 169:29 2.83

And the worst:

 

GOALS/60 TRAILERS, BY LINE

LINE TEAM TOI GOALS/60
Ritchie-Getzlaf-Perry Anaheim 145:34 1.65
Gaudreau-Monahan-Chiasson Calgary 114:07 1.58
Moulson-O'Reilly-Okposo Buffalo 105:14 1.14
McKegg-MacKenzie-Harper Florida 108:49 1.10
Jennier-Dubinsky-Atkinson Columbus 135:43 0.88

Some takeaways:

-    Boston’s line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak utterly dominates play, but their offensive production hasn’t quite matched their territorial edge.

-    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.

-    It turns out that playing with Connor McDavid works well for Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle

-    Brandon Sutter playing with the Sedins has not provided remotely positive results in Vancouver.

-    Carolina’s line of Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask and Lee Stempniak has been impressive.

-    The Kings line of Dustin Brown, Nic Dowd and Devin Setoguchi does well by shot and scoring chance metrics, but not so well in terms of goals.

-    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…

HEROES

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Chad Johnson is pushing for more playing time in Calgary.

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.     

ZEROES

Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley – The Penguins defence pair was on for three goals against in a 5-3 loss at the Islanders.

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.

SHORT SHIFTS

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.

FIRSTS

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.

FANTASY FOCUS

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.

Embedded Image
Kevin Hayes will be hard-pressed to keep scoring at his current rate.

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.

Much of the data included comes from corsica.hockeystats.hockeyanalysis.com www.hockey-reference and www.naturalstattrick.com

Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca