After reading Draft Dodger's post today about the offensive production of each Avalanche line this season, I noticed how many combinations of players have been used on each. Part of this is due to injuries, of course, but the majority of it is due to indecisiveness (or impatience) by the coaching staff.
Anyway, which combinations of players have been the best this season for the Avalanche?
First, the various combinations that have appeared on the top 3 lines, separated by line, with goals, assists and total points included:
|Line 1||Line 2||Line 3|
So what does this tell us? First of all, Paul Stastny is money in the bank. The lines he has appeared on have vastly outscored any other center's lines all season. And I'm talking percentages, not totals, so Joe Sakic's injury doesn't count against him.
The best combination has been the RPM Line of Stastny-Smyth-Hejduk, with 22 games played (17 as the top line, 5 as the second), 22 goals and 27 assists. Their points-per-game percentage is 2.23.
To determine the best line percentage-wise, I chose the line combinations that had played more than ten games together, which is really a small number considering the team has played 74 games so far. I came up with 5 lines:
Stastny-Smyth-Hejduk (22 games, 22 goals, 27 assists) 2.23
Sakic-Wolski-Brunette (11 games, 7 goals, 13 assists) 1.82
Arnason-Wolski-Svatos (17 games, 11 goals, 19 assists) 1.76
Hlinka-Brunette-Hejduk (10 games, 5 goals, 9 asssists) 1.40
Stastny-Wolski-Hejduk (11 games, 6 goals, 9 assists) 1.36
I think it's worth noting that one player's name appears pretty often: Wojtek Wolski. When paired consistently with other skilled players, he's actually quite productive. He and Marek Svatos did well together when combined with Tyler Arnason (and especially Paul Stastny), and the two youngsters' seemingly-competing styles of flashy shooting and steady puck control seem to compliment each other well. Of course, that doesn't do Wolski much good now with Svatos out for the rest of the year.
But back to the RPM Line. I think Coach Q is making a very bad decision by not playing these three together. They've been pretty consistent all year (when healthy). Stick them on top and let the next two lines consist of Sakic, Forsberg, Wolski, Hlinka, Brunette and Arnason. Three straight up scoring lines. Then the gritty Guite-McCormick-Laperriere line could round things out. Jones and McLeod get sent back to Cleveland.