January 25th, 2010, 7:50 pm
This week is the Week of Secondary Scoring. I read these posts on Fear the Fin ten days ago, and they put into blog form what everyone was a little worried about – the fact that Heater and Patty were scoring all the goals. This week, all that changed.
My analysis is different from FTF because I included Joe Thornton, trying to make a distinction between top scorers, top lines, and balanced scoring. Partly because I think you can’t say Heatley and Marleau would be scoring at the same clip without Big Joe’s 67 54 assists this year. And also partly because if your top two scorers are on different lines (like Kopitar and Brown in L.A.), your scoring is more balanced than Detroit, Anaheim, and the Sharks, whose top three scorers are on the same line together. Keep in mind this is an inexact science, since many coaches shuffle lines fairly regularly. I got these lines from the most recent games these teams have played, thanks to timeonice.com. Here they are, in current conference standing order.
|Team||Top Line||Top Line Goals||Total Goals For||Top Heavy %|
As expected, the Sharks are way out front, the top line scoring over 20 goals more than any other top line, and accounting for more than two out of every five goals scored.
But this past week, and admittedly it’s a small sample size, it’s wildly different. The top line, in the four games this week, scored 5 of the 22 goals scored, or 22.7%, lower than any other top line on this list. The Olympic Line (or the Burger Line, or the HTML line, whatever) will be staying together for the conceivable future, and teams have been targeting them all season to no avail. That’s not to say that they couldn’t suffer a letdown, maybe after the Olympics, or in the playoffs (again. Do I really have to type ‘again’ again?).
So which is better- having an unstoppable first line, or having four very even lines like Buffalo had on Saturday? Frankly, I want the superstars putting up superstar numbers. If the Sharks only have three guys that can score at all, it doesn’t matter how the lines are constituted, we’ll be in for another playoff disappointment. But the opportunities presented themselves, Boyle was out of the lineup, and the second and third lines stepped up. I’m very encouraged. If Patty, Jumbo, and Heater decide to put up six goals between them per game and freeze everyone else out, I’ll find a way to live with it.