In today’s game built on skill, speed and finesse, there are plenty of exciting options for hockey fans to choose from. When it comes to supremely talented scoring lines, it depends on your favorite flavor. Kinda like ice cream.
I’m a mint chocolate chip and banana kind of guy. Preferably by Egger’s out here in Staten Island. The best homemade ice cream parlor this town has to offer.
When it comes down to the league’s best lines, you have plenty of choices. Similar to ice cream or cool toppings like rainbow sprinkles, walnuts and hot fudge to name a few, it’s the same for who you enjoy watching during shifts.
Is it the cohesion of last year’s Hart winner Taylor Hall with Nico Hischier and sizzling starter Kyle Palmieri? The Devils offer up one of the best trios in the metro area. All three can score or set up goals with Hall the catalyst on the line that needs a nickname. Palmieri is off to a great start with eight goals and five assists entering tonight’s match in Tampa, who features dynamic duo Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. They’ve yet to get going unlike Brayden Point or J.T. Miller.
What about the ridiculous chemistry between Avalanche trio Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikka Rantanen? They’re producing at a crazy clip to have the surprising Avs off quickly in a ultra competitive Central out West. Can anyone slow last year’s MVP runner up MacKinnon, Landeskog and emerging star Rantanen down?
Anyone lucky enough to play with high flying superstar Connor McDavid is going to reap the benefits. McDavid is the game’s best player, although he’s shied away from agreeing due to the respect he has for three-time Stanley Cup champion Sidney Crosby. Crosby can still wow crowds like he did in a wild Penguins overtime win at Edmonton, scoring a ridiculous goal to win it 6-5. He entered with no goals, but tallied twice and hasn’t stopped scoring since.
As for McDavid, he does things so lightning fast that it’s like watching The Flash. He won a game in overtime at Chicago on a great Leon Draisaitl rush and pass to keep the Oilers hot. They play on separate lines but are often used together on the power play and three on three. McDavid is playing with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ty Rattie. Both are fitting in nicely on the new Oilers top line.
Imagine getting the chance to play with Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. While Malkin continues to work with exciting finisher Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin, Crosby teams with playoff performer Jake Guentzel. Off to a slow start, it’s only a matter of time before the gifted Guentzel gets going. He could form a potent combo with Crosby, who said what was on everyone’s mind following the awful tragedy in Pittsburgh over the weekend. A true leader in every sense of the word.
John Tavares has moved on from his Islanders days to starring for the hometown Maple Leafs. It’s gone well thus far with his scoring prowess combining with Mitch Marner to form a deadly tandem in Toronto. Without leading scorer Auston Matthews for a month, Tavares will be looked upon for even more offense on a line with Marner and complement Zach Hyman.
If you are a fan of the Sabres, Jeff Skinner is already having an impact playing together with new captain Jack Eichel in Buffalo. Skinner’s seven goals pace the team that’s won six of its first 11 games (6-4-1). The surprising part is the play of veteran Jason Pominville, who’s contributed some key goals while getting moved onto the line. Wait till youngster Casey Mittlestadt figures it out.
Any line featuring the breathtaking Artemi Panarin is one to behold. The electrifying Russian continues to deliver clutch goals like his overtime winner to lift the Blue Jackets over the Sabres this past weekend. He and speed demon Cam Atkinson are a unique combination of speed, skill and playmaking that can blow the roof off. Or in Columbus, the cannon after each goal. Keep an eye on sophomore pivot Pierre-Luc Dubois, who had a breakout game with two goals and two assists. He gets to center those two, which has to make coach John Tortorella drool.
The defending champs still are the home of the game’s greatest finisher, Alexander Ovechkin. Alexander The Great or The Great Eight as most know him, remains unbelievable from his office in the left circle. One day, he could chase down Wayne Gretzky. It may sound far fetched, but if he can continue scoring at least 40 goals over the next five seasons, it’s possible. He and top Russian comrade Evgeny Kuznetsov have a great partnership. Kuznetsov is the flourishing young center who led everyone in postseason scoring last Spring. For the time being, they’re without antagonist Tom Wilson, who continues serving a 20-game suspension for his tomfoolery which forced the Department of Player Safety to severely punish him. A highly effective player who plays on the edge, we’ll see if that changes him.
How can I leave out the terrific top line the Bruins roll out? They boast the game’s best overall center in Patrice Bergeron. A heady two-way player who makes everyone around him better, he continues to light it up in Beantown. Since being stolen by the Bruins in the second round of the ’03 NHL Draft, he’s been front and center. Part of Boston’s only Cup since the 70’s when Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr won the chalice on a memorable team, Bergeron centers a great line with The Rat, Brad Marchand, and rising star David Pastrnak. Best known as Pasta to those familiar with him. They’re one of the most complete lines in hockey.
There are plenty of other great scoring combos. You have the trio of Kyle Connor, Mark Schiefele and Blake Wheeler in Winnipeg. The Jets are searching for a replacement for Paul Stastny to play with Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. They’ve recently flipped Laine with Connor, who’s off to a better start. Don’t be surprised if they continue to ring Rangers GM Jeff Gorton for Kevin Hayes. For the time being, Bryan Little centers the second line.
It would be nice to see Islanders sophomore Mathew Barzal go on a run. He’s stuck with one goal and seven assists without Tavares. Barzal is sticking with familiar linemates Anthony Beauvillier and Jordan Eberle while Brock Nelson works with Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. We’ll see if Barzal can heat up. The Islanders need him to.
The Rangers lack a big line for now. New coach David Quinn is mixing and matching to find the right combos on a rebuilding club that’s struggling. The KZB Line was broken up due to inconsistency at five-on-five. Pavel Buchnevich now finds himself being tried out with Vladislav Namestnikov and surprising rookie Brett Howden. Chris Kreider is also not with Mika Zibanejad. Instead, he’s being tried with Hayes and Ryan Spooner. Zibanejad remains with Mats Zuccarello and Jimmy Vesey. It’s definitely a odd time. With the Rangers so bad, how soon before some vets go?
The Hurricanes are using the brilliant play of third-year center Sebastian Aho to get off to a good start in the Metro. He plays mostly with 2018 first round pick Andrei Svechnikov and Warren Foegle. Neither have been scoring recently. But Carolina is continuing to win games. Aho is a terrific player who is worth watching.
Scoring actually has been a problem in Philadelphia. It’s not just the defense or goaltending. The Flyers are not getting what was anticipated from Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny with only the latter playing okay. Wayne Simmonds looks healthy in a contract year. Nolan Patrick only has two goals. The Flyers are missing James van Riemsdyk.
Elias Pettersson is worth the price of admission in Vancouver. In only his second game back from a concussion, the Calder candidate scored twice in the Canucks win over the Wild. He has seven goals and three helpers so far.
Any line that features Johnny Gaudreau is fun to take in. We saw Johnny Hockey at his best in a Flames victory at MSG. He scored two brilliant goals to take apart the Rangers. He, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm are quite the trio. They have it all. It’s allowed Matthew Tkachuk to move down to the second line where he’s performed well.
Patrick Kane is once again lighting up the back of the net with regularity. Showtime still has a few tricks up his sleeve on the surprising Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews is also scoring with regularity.
We are still waiting on Tyler Seguin and Jamie Been to get untracked. They aren’t the same without Alexander Radulov.
If you want to see a new big scorer, check out Timo Meier in San Jose. He and the high flying Sharks host the Rangers later tonight.