Welcome to Line Combo Look where we take a somewhat weekly look around the league at any recent changes to line combos or power play set ups.
Today we'll look at the West (click here for the East). All statistics are for games up to Jan 10th, 2011.
The big winner with Ryan Getzlaf's injury is Matt Beleskey or Bobby Ryan or both. Beleskey and Ryan were splitting the PT with Getzlaf and Perry but with the captain out, they have been guaranteed a spot on the top unit. Ryan has four points and Beleskey has three in the five games without Getzlaf. Ryan has a long way to go to get his season back on track (he's on pace for just 55 after 64 last season).
Troy Brouwer (with Toews and Kane) and Tomas Kopecky (with Hossa and Sharp) have been getting the open scoring line jobs lately. Good news for their owners but those two spots have seen a lot of shuffling this year so don't count on them holding onto them long term.
Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek had been bumped from Rick Nash's line... until last weekend when the line was reunited. Nash had two goals and Voracek had two assists in the game (Brassard was held pointless) so look for this line to stick together for at least a few more games.
Over the last five, Kris Russell is the Jackets PP TOI leader among d-men (taking away the title from Stralman). Not sure why though... he's only on pace for 19 points. This team needs a PP QB badly.
In his first game with the Stars Jamie Langenbrunner lined up on the third line with Ott and Burish... remember last year when he was playing with Parise and Zajac? Good times. If this continues it will be very tough for him to break out of his funk (he's on pace for 30 points). Langebrunner will need either Benn (10 points in last 11 games) or Morrow (eight points in last six games) to falter and as you can see they have both been pretty hot lately. Some good news for Langenbrunner owners... it looks like he's playing the point on the 2nd PP unit.
With Cleary out injured Jiri Hudler stepped back into a scoring line job... it's been awhile. He's picked up six points in the eight games he's played on the second line and is even getting a good amount of PP time (6th on team last five games).
Same deal with Valtteri Filppula as he's stepped up to #2C when Datsyuk got injured 10 games ago. Filppula has seven points in eight games (he was injured for two games) over that span.
I wouldn't expect a ton from either of these two but they make good adds in deeper leagues... especially points only ones.
With Ryan Whitney out, some are looking to Kurtis Foster to pick up the slack. But his PP TOI has stayed about the same, he has zero points in his last 10 games and was even a healthy scratch last week. Foster was already getting 1st PP unit minutes so there was no room for growth here. If you're desperate for help then look to Tom Gilbert as he has seen a rise in his PP TOI since Whitney went down and was already more productive this year than Foster (although we wouldn't expect much)
The Kings have switched their lines up after realizing that Marco Sturm on the top line wasn't getting it done. He had just three points in eight games with Kopitar and Brown but has three in three since he was moved to a line with Stoll and Simmonds. So Stoll + Simmonds > Kopitar + Brown. Hmmm who knew?
Alexei Ponikarovsky replaced Sturm on that top line after he returned from injury two games ago... he has zero points in those two games and only seven in 24 games this year.
We wrote this on Oct 16th:
Who leads the Wild in PP time so far? Mikko Koivu? Nope he's 3rd with 3:39 / game. Brent Burns? Nope he's 2nd with 4:10 / game. It's actually Matt Cullen who has a huge 5:04 / game. Cullen only has two seasons in his career with more than 15 PPP so this is very surprising. Expect to see Cullen and Koivu's numbers to flip as the season progresses.
Our prediction hasn't come true yet... but it's getting there. Cullen is still first on the team overall in PP TOI but his time has dropped dramatically lately... he's been only fourth on the Wild the last five games (granted the Wild haven't had a ton of PP opportunities recently). He's also been moved to the third line with O'Sullivan and Clutterbuck and has only two points in his last nine games. Kyle Brodziak took his 2nd line center job... he's not worth your roster spot.
Sergei Kostitsyn has managed to turn his hot streak into a bigger role with the Preds. He's getting upwards of 20 minutes a game, playing on the 'top' line with Goc and Hornqvist and is fourth on the team in PP TOI over the last five games. The Preds have zero scoring talent so expect Kostitsyn to get a long leash (and lots of opportunities) the rest of the year. He had three points in his first 19 games and has 20 points in his last 18 games. Crazy.
Another guy that has stepped up (although not as much as Sergei) is Colin Wilson. His playing time has increased from the 10-13 minute range earlier in the season to 15-18 lately. He's also been seeing time on the top PP unit and is fifth on the team in PP TOI over the last five. He has seven points in his last five games.
After playing four or so games on the third line Dany Heatley was moved to the 2nd line with our boy Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe. Well the Sharks were shutout in the that game but we we definitely like Heatley's chances of getting back on track more if he's playing on a scoring line. We'll see what happens in the next Shark game.
Also in that game, Marc-Eduardo Vlasic took Jason Demers spot on the PP. Not sure how long that will last but since Demers only has 5 PPP this year we understand the problem... although MEV probably isn't the solution.
Not really new news but wanted to mention that Matt D`Agostini has been playing with Sobotka and Backes on the top line and that he's been pretty successful lately (eight points in eight games). If he keeps this hot streak up he might hold onto his spot when T.J. Oshie finally returns.