The Avs’ season-opening win against the Rangers was short-lived, as a sloppy loss to New Jersey put the Bednar Blender™ into effect in Colorado and we got a glimpse of some potential line combos he has in his back pocket. Things got stabilized again in Game 3, a nice road win in Boston, but let’s take a look at how the team has been using its forwards at even strength in Week 1 and whether there’s room for improvement.
Season-opening lines, Courtesy of DailyFaceoff:
As we know, Game 1 was a successful win, meaning that lines were kept reasonably intact throughout. Duchene and Yak connected for a tally, MacKinnon and Rantanen combined for their second goal, everything was going as planned and the line combos looked good, other than Tyson Jost being weighed down on the 4th line and Landy carrying the 3rd line a bit (see stats below courtesy of Hockey-reference.com).
Game 2 lines, courtesy of LeftWingLock:
Clearly, the blending has begun here, but mainly in the bottom-six. The MacKinnon and Duchene lines in their original form saw a combined 43% of the ES game, with pureed versions only accounting for a few minutes. Meanwhile, Jost appears in 4 different situations, as does Compher and Soderberg, who was a standout in the poor contest.
Turns out, based on the possession data courtesy of HockeyReference, the bottom-six was, in fact, the weaker links.
Comeau, Compher, Landy were all in the 30% range in CF, while Soderberg and Wilson were in the 40% range. Jost, who got shuffled quite a bit, was actually a bright spot at >50% and >0 CRel%. Based on this strong play despite linemates dragging behind, Jost has likely earned more ice time. The top-six failed to produce, but they were out-shooting their opponents consistently so there’s no reason to label them as non-ideal yet (their PP, on the other hand, deserves an entire other article).
Game 3 lines, courtesy of LeftWingLock:
Game 3 was a bounce back for the squad, they won the contest and potted 4 goals, so it makes sense that the lines stayed pretty much the same all game. There are a few low % combos used following PKs and PPs, but the same groups were used almost 80% of the time. They did only manage 23 SOG compared to Boston’s 29, so let’s look at how the forward lines did in terms of shot attempt stats:
Once again, the third line of Compher/Landy/Jost was carried by Landy in terms of corsi and shot attempts. The first line did worse than in other games in this regard but still got the job done.
It’s hard to argue with results, so it’s a bit early to be overly harsh on the line combos that have them. That being said, Landy has been carrying the third line so far and there’s definitely room for improvement. Given Jost’s strong stats in Game 2 despite having weaker linemates, Game 3’s play could very well be an aberration. Especially given that the team got the W, I would assume Jost gets a longer shot in the role. But if the line continues to be unbalanced, maybe it’s time to give Compher a shot as the pivot, or maybe move Landy up and see if Jost/Compher click with Yakupov.
What do you think? Should the coaches be making adjustments despite the promising record so far?