Ilya Kovalchuk & Zach Parise: The Top Ten 1-2 Punches In The NHL
Duo... Counterpart... Linemate... All have the same generalization, but nothing makes anything more clear-cut than a classic "1-2 combo."
While mentioning a "combo," many proceed to mention cross sport equivalents. Unfortunately, this is not one of those articles. Hockey is unique and unlike any other sport, it can rarely be compared. Players routinely skate with urgency in fear of losing time on the ice.
It is a goal to play 82 games, a full season, and doing otherwise many receive criticism. Unfortunately. few make it through a season without an injury, due to grueling pace and physical play.
The following pairs are proven bearers of the burden their team collectively puts forth on their shoulders. Some may not produce the stats others have, but one commonality is that when they were on the ice they consistently hear more cheers than jeers from their home crowds.
A team simply wins by scoring most, but the most dangerous players are the ones who hold themselves equally responsible on the defensive end. The ability to have players on the same line makes for unflappable momentum, but should they be on a different line it means increased depth. Meet the most dangerous "combos" in the NHL...
#10 Derek Roy & Tim Connolly
Throughout the year, viewers mainly tuned into games to see Ryan Miller make a highlight-reel save. But Buffalo fans really grew accustomed to was the production of Derek Roy and Tim Connolly.
Roy and Connolly both played nearly a third of every game, which included roles on the power play and shorthanded lines. Look for the Sabres take another step this season and challenge for a top seed in the East.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 43G | 91A | 134P | +19
#9 Corey Perry & Ryan Getzlaf
While Anaheim failed to make the postseason last year, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were able to prove to faithful followers that the future is bright. The two led the forwards in ice time and scoring.
While penalty minutes proved costly at times, it is hardly something to look down upon when many years are ahead of the two. Perry and Getlaf have the true ability to wear down the opposition with physicality and hustle.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 46G | 99A | 145P | +4
#8 Marian Gaborik & Vinny Prospal
While a clear lamp-lighter describes Marian Gaborik, the elder Vinny Prospal still has his ways. If there was ever a ying to a yang in hockey it would be found in New York.
Gaborik netted 44 goals last season and finished amongst the top players in total points. On the opposite end of the play is Prospal. Seen as a "pass-first" center, Prospal can always be found in the middle of a scoring equation. Obviously aging, the ability to thread the needle is always an attribute teams value.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 62G | 84A | 146P | +23
#7 Pavel Datsyuk & Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have generally been two of the faces of an oft-potent offense. While both have seen much better seasons, the opportunity to actually have a true challenger in the division may prove for motivation this season.
Both players averaged nearly 20 minutes per game. Perhaps the most sound all-around players in the game, they both have the ability score. On top of that, they both led the team in assists. With a new season, the now healthy Red Wings will be favorites once again in October.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 50G | 90A | 140P | +29
#6 Dany Heatley & Joe Thornton
Always proving to be regular season point machines, Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton haven't been able to overcome that playoff pressure.
Similar to previously mentioned Ranger teammates, Heatley and Thornton are mirror images. The crowds cheer in the Shark Tank, the tandem is always in the middle of the celebration. Heatley netted 39 goals, while Thornton added a whopping 69 assists.
San Jose will be needing even more from the both of them this season as the cream of the conference seems to have gotten more crowded this off-season.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 59G | 112A | 171P | +31
#5 Ilya Kovalchuk & Zach Parise
With Ilya Kovalchuk coming to New Jersey midseason, a primarily sound defensive squad turned into an immediate offensive threat.
While stats do contain those compiled in Atlanta, the season output compiled with teammate Zach Parise provides for thirty-five percent of the teams goals. Parise, becoming more and more of an elite player, will only continue to benefit from Kovalchuk remaining a Devil.
If consistency can be found up front, New Jersey will once again be a very dangerous team with solid goaltending and brick-wall defense.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 79G | 88A | 167P | +34
#4 Jonathan Toews & Patrick Kane
Headlines have been plastered with the name and faces of the two Chicago stars, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and they should be. While the 2009 season started with confidence, the players led their countries respectively to add a stamp of "elite" to their NHL hockey club.
Last June, the careers of the two blossomed by winning the long sought-after Stanley Cup. While both lead with their commitment on the ice, the belief that their best is behind them would be a devastating mistake. At such a young age, the teammates now look to prepare their squads for a challenge that no other team has done in the last decade... repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 55G | 101A | 156P | +38
#3 Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin
Through the past few years the NHL has been graced with this dynamic combo. While one might assert the two as perhaps the best pair, statistics really can't say much different.
To the NHL, they serve as the poster players and to the team the basically serve as a third of the Pittsburgh's offense. Combined they provided 79 goals combined. Always a threat on the ice, the Penguins success squarely hinge on their production.
As long as the two are on the ice the Pens have a chance to win. This season they will look to pick themselves up from a stumble in the 2010 NHL playoffs.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 79G | 107A | 186P | +9
#2 Daniel & Henrik Sedin
The true definition of identical twins, they also serve as one of the best knockout combos in the league. Last season truly was a display of what is to come in Vancouver.
Unfortunately for players and fans alike, Daniel and Henrik Sedin were part of another demise to the Blackhawks. Proven scorers and responsible defensive forwards, no one can ever count the twins out. They accounted for a fifth of the offense while finishing with a plus/minus rating of (+71). An absolutely remarkable feat and will be replicated this season with offseason bolstering of a mediocre defense.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 58G | 139A | 197P | +71
#1 Alex Ovechkin & Nicklas Backstrom
The key components and leaders of the offensive juggernaut in Washington, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have given fans many things to cheer about.
Ovechkin and Backstrom served as a quarter of the Capitals' offense and should you consider Alexander Semin then you have 40 percent of an offense that netted a league-leading 318 goals.
So one may wonder how a team seemingly so flawless could lose after a season of so many highs? Perhaps the inconsistencies in net or the mediocricy at the defensive position, but don't tell that to Ovechkin or Backstrom. Over the season the two finish with a combined plus/minus rating of (+82). A level at which your elite defenseman could hope to reach in a season.
2009-10 Cumulative Stats: 83G | 127A | 210P | +82
Look for Washington to perhaps take their turn at the championship carosel in 2010. October can't come soon enough for any fan, while April isn't that far away in the eyes of the players. Every game counts and look for the best to light up the highlight reels with spectacular passes and jaw-dropping shots.