It's the best time of year!
With so much great young talent these days, there are a lot of good top lines in the NHL. It’s not necessarily a constant topic of conversation, but Patrick and I debate which team possesses the best one…
Anaheim’s top line is nothing short of dominant
By Ryan Porth
Ryan Getzlaf has missed different periods of time the last couple years due to injury. But when he is healthy, the Ducks’ top line, along with Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, is as good as it gets.
Getzlaf has proven that he can be a point-per-game center. To me, he’s the engine that makes this line go. Since the start of the 2007/08 campaign, Getzlaf has compiled 311 points in 286 games (1.09 ppg). His 6’4” frame can wear down opponents, and the 2010 Gold Medalist has a knack for raising his game in the big moments.
Residing on the right wing of this line, Perry has emerged as a league-wide MVP candidate this season. The most goals he had previously scored in a season was 32; but his 46 tallies here in 2010/11 have made him a superstar in the making. Because of his rugged (and sometimes over-the-line) playing style around the net, Perry is a hated player around the league. However, that style of play makes Perry the effective forward he is.
The other piece to this puzzle, Bobby Ryan, at times leaves you wanting to see more. In spurts he can be one of the best goal-scorers in the league. But he can also stay quiet for stretches at a time, which separates him from a good player and a great one. There’s no denying his potential, though. He is a great complement on the left wing.
What makes this line so dangerous is how effective they are late in games. The trio has combined to score 19 game-winning goals this year, and has also contributed to the clutch play of Teemu Selanne and Lubomir Visnovsky in late-game situations. 21 of Perry's 46 goals, and 15 of Ryan's 33, have come in the third period. This line is so dominant that it wears down opponents as games go along.
Anaheim’s top line has about everything you could ask for. With Getzlaf, they have size and playmaking ability; Perry can score goals in different ways, including sticking his nose in the crease; and Ryan is a lethal sniper that could one day push 50 goals. All three average in excess of 20 minutes per game.
All of this versatility makes them the best trio in the league. And you know what the scary part is? None of them are older than 25 years old.
It doesn’t get better than Vancouver’s trio
By Patrick Hoffman
There is no doubting the importance of having a No. 1 line in the National Hockey League.
A team’s top line is one that the coach can rely on to score key goals, make big plays and produce on a dime. One team that has a top line that does all of those things and more is the Vancouver Canucks’ top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows.
This line contains two extremely talented offensive players in the Sedin twins along with a player that is willing to go into the corners, take a few hits and set up the twins, in Burrows. It is a combination that has proved to be deadly for the Canucks’ opponents this season.
Looking at the Sedin twins, there is no doubt that they have both had terrific seasons this year in leading the Canucks to a Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team. Daniel Sedin leads the league with 100 points (41 goals and 59 assists), while last year’s Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner, Henrik Sedin, is right behind his brother with 19 goals and an astounding 72 assists. Will Daniel follow with a Hart of his own this year?
As the twins go, so do the Canucks. They can both put the puck in the net, create scoring opportunities, move the puck and create space for teammates when opponent’s key in on them.
While Burrows has not had the kind of offensive numbers that he had last season (35-32-67), he is still an extremely valuable piece of the Canucks’ top line.
Coach Alain Vigneault has had trouble finding the perfect complement for the Sedins in the past, but Burrows has certainly fit the bill. Burrows can hit, agitate, crash the net for rebounds, use his speed to create scoring chances and produce. This season, Burrows has 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points.
If the Canucks want to have any kind of success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, they will need this trio to be clicking on all cylinders. Given that they have combined for 237 points this season, it should not be a problem.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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