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Our line starts, coach?

I was thinking about stuff today and decided that we could really use an article about Joel Quenneville's line choices. Because, certainly, we haven't really covered the topic lately. Or something.

By my count, Joel Quenneville has used 95 different lines this year. Only one line has been together for more than 20 games - the line of Paul Stastny, Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk. Only 7 lines have even reached the 10 game mark, and two of those lines are checking lines.

Sure, we've had injuries. Lots of them. I would have loved to break down lines changes between "injury necessity" and "coaches whimsy", but I just didn't have enough fingers and toes to make those sorts of calculations. I did discover, though, that 40 different times he used a line as a one-shot deal. This includes some winners like Brad Richardson, Andrew Brunette and Wyatt Smith and my personal favorite, TJ Hensick, Kyle Cumiskey and Johnny Boychuk. No line has been safe from change. The 1st line has come in 18 different flavors this year to date, while we've seen 40 different combinations on the 4th line. 40!

I had originally crunched all these numbers in an effort to see which line was the most effective scoring-wise. But with so few lines together long enough to give any sort of sample size, there just wasn't enough data to work with. For what it's worth, here's a ranking of the top 5 lines that have played more than 5 games together, based on highest number of EV points per game (the 5 game cutoff for this is extremely arbitrary, so take these numbers with an enormous grain of salt):


  1. Stastny, Smyth, Hejduk 2.2 Pt/G, 22 GP

  2. Sakic, Wolski, Brunette 1.8 Pt/G, 11 GP

  3. Arnason, Wolski, Svatos 1.8 Pt/G, 17 GP

  4. Stastny, Hlinka, Hejduk 1.7 Pt/G, 6 GP

  5. Stastny, Wolski, Hejduk 1.5 Pt/G, 10 GP


I don't suppose I need to point out that Wojtek Wolski appears on 3 of our 5 best scoring lines this season.

EDIT: In a perfect example of small minds seldom differing, Joe was writing essentially the same post at MHH while I was doing this one. So, if you want to read this again, but with different words, check it out!