Yesterday we took a look at which Caps defensemen were the most productive when playing together last season. Today, we're going to take a similar look at forwards, specifically "top six" or skill forwards (a generous definition for some).
To get us started, here's a look at the Caps' top 10 even strength line combinations (by occurrence, which is like a shift, but far more frequent) made up only of skill forwards (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr, Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov... oh, and Michael Nylander), their respective total points as a line, and their occurrence-per-point (OPP) rates:
Notice anything about the three lines with the worst OPP rates? Nylander skated with Ovechkin and Backstrom... and failed. He skated with Laich and Semin... and failed. He skated with Fleischmann and Kozlov... and failed (epically). And since you're wondering, Nylander had 44 occurrences with the two Alexes (sorry, Giroux, not you) and the line didn't register a single point. Does anyone really still think he can produce for this team?Moving along, here's a look at the top lines, ranked by total point production:
More Ovechkin-Backstrom-Laich, please.
No real surprises here - just about any line with Ovechkin on it, put up points, albeit at different rates, and Semin and Backstrom ain't too shabby either (and don't forget the F Street line).
Digging a little deeper, we can look at pairs, rather than trios. Why pairs? In part because the point of the exercise is to try to see, statistically, where chemistry exists between two players and where it doesn't (and three-way chemistry would just be an added layer to that). And, in part, because the available data lends itself more to looking at pairs of players.
The table below includes relevant data for each of the pairs of the above-named forwards who skated at least 40 even strength minutes together, ranked by plus-minus per sixty minutes of even strength time:
She's a doozy, eh? A few notes taken from the data (small sample size disclaimer where applicable):
- Remember what I said above about Nylander being a failure with everyone with whom he skated? I take that back - he killed with Fedorov, and I'd love to see him on a line with Sergei this coming season.
- The Ovechkin-Laich duo (remember them from earlier in the post?) led the way in GF/60 and had the worst GA/60 - when they were on the ice together, things happened.
- The top offensive duos were Ovechkin-Laich, Fedorov-Nylander, Backstrom-Laich, Ovechkin-Semin and Backstrom-Fehr. The worst offensive duos (or is that "the most offensive" duos?) were Backstrom-Nylander, Fleischmann-Kozlov, Nylander-Ovechkin, Fehr-Nylander and, bringing up the rear... Kozlov-Nylander.
- The top defensive duos were Backstrom-Fedorov, Fedorov-Fehr, Backstrom-Semin, Fehr-Nylander, Fedorov Fleischmann. The worst defensive duos were Kozlov-Laich, Fleischmann-Laich, Fedorov-Ovechkin, Fedorov-Kozlov and Ovechkin-Laich.
- If Brendan Morrison is replacing Fedorov, he'll do fine. If Brendan Morrison is replacing Nylander, he'll be the biggest positional upgrade in the League.
- I already don't miss Viktor Kozlov. Mike Knuble might be the second biggest upgrade in the League in 2009-10.
- Backstrom is a golden god.
Given the turnover - out with Fedorov, Kozlov and likely Nylander (from the lineup, at least); in with Morrison and Knuble - some of this data is moot going forward. But a lot of it is worth looking over when thinking about the team's top two lines. We know who the centers will be, and we know who three of the four wingers will be. But the combinations remain to be seen, and, knowing Bruce Boudreau, we'll see plenty of every combination imaginable.