Power Rankings: The 30 NHL Top Lines
After weeks of research, I am finally ready to rank the NHL's 30 top lines.
This information is the most up to date that I could find on the Internet. While I don't agree with all of the top lines listed on this site, I had to use the same source for the entire slideshow to make it fair.
Using Hockey Utopia's line-combinations page, I was able to compile these rankings based on the following criteria.
- Ability to Dominate Games
Whether you agree with these rankings or not, it is important to note that this is just my opinion.
Also, when reading this article remember that line combinations are constantly changing in the National Hockey League. These combinations were based on what happened as of the time of making this slideshow.
I hope that you enjoy my slideshow and please let your opinions rain down in the comments section below!
Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
No. 30: Florida Panthers
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Shawn Matthias - Stephen Weiss - Michael Frolik
Do any of these names really strike fear into your head? In my opinion, no!
When your top-line center has six points in 12 games, you have a problem. Michael Frolik has been the best player on this line with ten points in 12 games while Matthias, like Weiss, has only six.
Stephen Weiss has not turned into the player that the Panthers hoped he would become. The dominant junior player hasn't turned into the dominant pro. While it's not too late (see Sedin twins), Weiss isn't getting any younger.
Florida's coaching staff is going to have a hell of a time putting a top line together down the stretch. There really isn't anyone who stands out on that roster.
Hopefully, with Dale Tallon at the helm, the Panthers will be able to play at a respectable level in the National Hockey League. But until their top line starts acting like a top line, both on the ice and in the locker room, the Panthers are in some serious trouble.
No. 29: Calgary Flames
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Alex Tanguay - Matt Stajan - Jarome Iginla
The Flames aren't at the bottom of this list for a lack of big names. When you have two guys who are as skilled as Jarome and Alex, you should be right at the top.
There is a big problem in Calgary right now, and that's attitude. When rumors are circling that Jarome Iginla (eight points in 14 games) is on his way out of town, you have a little bit of a situation on your hands.
The experiment with Jokinen and Tanguay seems to have failed for GM Darryl Sutter. When Rene Bourque and Brendan Morrison are your leading scorers, you know something is going wrong.
Perhaps it's time for a management/coaching shake-up in Calgary. I really don't know. What I do know is that the Calgary Flames are lacking the leadership and production from their top line.
Tanguay has put up respectable numbers while Matt Stajan just hasn't lived up to expectations. It must be a terrible time to be a fan of the Calgary Flames. I feel sorry for you all!
No. 28: Nashville Predators
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J.P Dumont - David Legwand - Joel Ward
After a hot start, the Nashville Predators have finally come back down to earth. When no player on your top line has registered over six points, you have a big problem.
Now that's not to say that Barry Trotz, who I regard as the best NHL coach, and the Nashville Predators aren't receiving offensive contributions from elsewhere. I'm just saying that they need more out of the top line.
The one thing we can give this top line is that they are three of the NHL's hardest working players. Each one brings a unique set of skills to the table and they will do whatever it takes to help the Nashville Predators succeed.
While I'm not a diehard Predators fan, I do appreciate everything that David Poile and Trotz have been able to do with a limited budget. It's really impressive.
Hopefully something sparks these three guys to be better in the offensive zone. They are generally good at the defensive end.
No. 27: St. Louis Blues
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Andy McDonald - Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes
This is one of the top lines that I don't really agree with. I'm not sure how Sobotka got all the way up here! That's not supposed to be a jab at him. I suppose with the TJ Oshie injury it sort of makes sense.
What to say about the St. Louis Blues? Jaroslav Halak is really the main reason why this team is so high in the standings. They are playing well as a group, but he has been spectacular.
Andy McDonald is one of my favorite players in the league. He is quick, skillful and very tough to play against. But perhaps age is finally taking its toll on him.
David Backes was just inked to a big contract extension. I bet every Blues fan is hoping that this sparks him to really light the lamp more often. All hockey fans know that he is much more capable than the six points he has put up through 14 games.
My problem with this top line is that they really don't scare me. On a good team, is David Backes really more than a second-line winger? I agree that he's talented, but if I'm San Jose, Washington or Vancouver, I'm really not afraid of this top line.
No. 26: Columbus Blue Jackets
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Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Jakub Voracek
To be completely honest, I hate seeing talent go to waste.
Since Rick Nash became a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, they have effectively wasted his talent with line-mates that really aren't nearly as skilled.
Rick Nash and the Jackets have been searching for that No. 1 center for years. It's a bit sad to be quite honest. I can't seem to think of a team that has has so much trouble finding players to line up beside a star. Yikes!
While this group of three is leading the team in scoring, it is a little bit worrying to note that Rick Nash only has 10 points in 14 games. Those aren't numbers to spit at, but I can't be alone in saying that I expected more out of him.
I figured that, after a taste of the playoffs two years ago and missing out last year, he would be hungry to get right back there. I understand that it's still early in the season, but 14 games is a good sample size if you ask me.
As far as Derick Brassard is concerned, there isn't a lot to complain about. Still, I don't think that he is a name very many teams are afraid of. He is talented, no doubt about it, but he isn't star caliber.
No. 25: Atlanta Thrashers
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Evander Kane - Nikolai Antropov - Anthony Stewart
If you read from left to right, you are probably thinking I'm crazy! Evander Kane, ranked 25th? That's crazy. Then you start reading a little more and you see that his line-mates are Nik Antropov and Anthony Stewart.
Kane is an emerging star in this league. I remember when he played for the Vancouver Giants. You could tell that this kid was going to be something really special one day. He isn't the reason that the Thrashers are ranked so low.
Nikolai Antropov looked pretty good beside Ilya Kovalchuk. Unfortunately for him, when Kovalchuk was traded, he began to show why the Toronto Maple Leafs didn't want him. He looked big and uninterested.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a lot about Anthony Stewart. The things I have heard about him are that he is really a great talent on the ice. I've also heard that he is an incredibly hard worker.
It's really great to see a first line take over a game and lift a team up. That's one thing I can't say for the Atlanta Thrashers. Anybody else think that this is Dustin Byfuglien's team right now? I think it is both on and off the ice.
No. 24: Carolina Hurricanes
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Sergei Samsonov - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
In my opinion, Eric Staal is perhaps the most well-rounded player in the game of hockey today. He has the skill, skating ability and size to be one of the most prominent NHLers for years to come. While he doesn't bring the flashiness of an Alex Ovechkin, he is reliable and productive.
Staal has 15 points in 16 games while LaRose and Samsonov only have eight (note that Samsonov has only played 12 games this season).
Years ago, Sergei Samsonov was a player rumored to be on the Canucks' radar. It was thought that he would fit nicely into a second-line role. What you must remember is that at this point in time, the Canucks were struggling to put the puck in the net. I'm not denying that Samsonov has talent. He surely does, but he is best fit for a top line role.
Paul Maurice is one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League right now. He consistently does what is best for his team. Perhaps his thinking is that putting LaRose (whose previous career high in goals is 19) on a line with Staal will help bring up his production. I'm not one to speculate, but that's just my theory.
The Canes have a fairly balanced lineup. It's not overly stellar or deep, but it's going to get the job done on a night-to-night basis. However, I think that the top line needs some serious work.
No. 23: Toronto Maple Leafs
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Nikolai Kulemin - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Let me be very clear. Phil Kessel is the only reason the Leafs are this high up the list. He is one of the few bright spots on the Toronto Maple Leafs' roster.
Bozak and Kulemin both have talent, but are they really first liners? I don't think so. They should be projected second-or-third liners on any good hockey club. What really scares me, along with many Maple Leafs fans, is the fact that these guys really haven't picked up where they left off last year.
Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin have a measly nine points in 15 games while Bozak has five. Those really aren't the stats that I remember seeing in the second half of last season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are having a lot of trouble scoring. If these three guys can't pick up the production really quickly, I'll be very shocked. I think that they have the skill and mental ability needed to pull the Leafs out of this large slump they are in.
I know a lot of people will tell me that the Leafs shouldn't be so high on this list, but when you have a guy like Phil Kessel skating around, it's tough not to score.
No. 22: New York Islanders
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Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
This is a very young line with a lot of skill. Matt Moulson had a huge year last year and he is off to another good start this year, with 10 points in 16 games. Tavares, last year's No. 1 draft pick, is also off to a good start with 10 points in 13 games. These numbers aren't out of the park, but they are solid numbers for young players on a struggling team.
My problems begin with Michael Grabner. The former first rounder (Vancouver) struggled to find his place in the Vancouver Canucks organization. The roster there was just so deep that he could never really nail down solid playing time.
After the trade to Florida in which Keith Ballard was sent to Vancouver, I thought that he would shine in a top six role that he had wanted so badly all along. Unfortunately for Grabner, he didn't make the Panthers' roster.
Now I don't want to harp too much on the past, but when you can't make the Florida Panthers' roster at forward, you really have a problem. The Panthers have one of the worst offensive lines in the National Hockey League and Grabner couldn't crack it.
Luckily for him, he was given a shot by the New York Islanders.
The two concerns I have with this line as a whole are that they are really inexperienced and that they are just brutal in the defensive zone. With time, I believe that both problems can be fixed.
No. 21: Phoenix Coyotes
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Wojtek Wolski - Eric Belanger - Lee Stempniak
This isn't meant to cause any offense, but when Eric Belanger is your No. 1 center, you have a problem.
Belanger is a great player when he is playing the role that he should be. The problem with the Coyotes is that they really don't have anyone else to plug into that top center spot.
Stempniak and Wolski have tallied eight points this season while Belanger has nine. Are those really top line numbers? I don't think so.
After acquiring Stempniak and Wolski last season, Phoenix's offense took off. Both players were incredibly hot with Stempniak lighting the lamp at a pace unheard of by the diminutive forward.
This season has been a different story for the Coyotes. All three of their top line players have struggled out of the gate. Each guy must step up if the Coyotes are to have any chance of repeating last season's Cinderella story.
Hopefully the Coyotes can rally around each other like they did last year. If not, this top line will be in for a world of trouble down the stretch. They just don't appear to have what it takes to be top producers in the league right now.
No. 20: Los Angeles Kings
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Scott Parse - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
I would be hard pressed to find a Kings' fan who doesn't think that Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams are outplaying this trio.
I find it incredibly difficult to get a read from Scott Parse. On some nights, he shows a lot of skill, heart and determination. But on others I wonder why Terry Murray puts him on the ice.
Next up, we have Anze Kopitar. Kopitar has been the offensive leader of this team for a few years now and I think that he is finally starting to come into his own. He has tallied 13 points in 14 games and he is on the plus side of the plus/minus statistic. I can't say enough good things about the play of Anze Kopitar this year and last.
Dustin Brown is a very interesting player. You would be hard pressed to find a guy with more heart and determination. But he really isn't top-line material. I am going to continue to use Vancouver as my example in this slideshow. I can guarantee you that the Canucks would love to have Brown on their third line with Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres. It seems like a great fit. On some teams, Brown would fit on the second line. On very few teams does Brown fit on the top line.
When you look at that line from a scoring standpoint, only Kopitar really scares you. This is the reason that the Kings went after Kovalchuk in the offseason.
No. 19: Edmonton Oilers
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Dustin Penner - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
I'll be the first to admit that Ales Hemsky is one of my favorite players in the league. It's great to see him finally healthy and playing. He has the skill, leadership and heart to take a team deep into the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Hemsky and the other leaders on the Oilers, the team just doesn't look as though it is anywhere close to being ready for playoff hockey.
This line is really a bright spot on a struggling team. My read on the situation is that Tom Renney has this trio together to show the young guns (Hall, Eberle and MPS) how the game should be played. All three of these guys have the experience necessary to teach the rookies.
Hemsky has played really well this season, tallying 11 points in 15 games while staying on the plus side of the ledger. The other two guys haven't been lighting the world on fire, but at least they have looked all right.
Dustin Penner seems to have found a home in Edmonton after a few years of struggling. For me, last year was exactly what Edmonton was looking for when it signed him to an offer sheet from Anaheim.
I hope that these three guys continue working hard. If they don't, the long season in Edmonton could become even longer. I wouldn't be rushing to count on Hall and Eberle to carry you down the stretch.
No. 18: Minnesota Wild
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Andrew Brunette - Mikko Koivu - Antti Miettinen
The Minnesota Wild are finally starting to put some wins together with their captain Mikko Koivu leading the way. He is everything that they could have ever hoped for in a top-line center and captain.
By no means are Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen the most talented guys in the world. They are hard working guys made better by Koivu.
This line has a lot of experience and it is really showing through. Recently I watched the game between the Wild and Kings and, even though Minnesota lost, Koivu and his line-mates looked calm, cool and collected.
Koivu makes the players around him better. To be completely honest, he is the real reason that the Wild are ahead of teams like Los Angeles and Edmonton. While the other two names aren't there to sneeze at, they aren't dominant NHL players.
I've been really happy with Mikko's performance since being named captain at the start of Todd Richard's reign. Hopefully he can keep it up and bring playoff hockey back to hockey's American home. The fans really deserve it.
No. 17: New York Rangers
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Alex Frolov - Erik Christensen - Marian Gaborik
What can I really say about this line? You have two guys with all the talent in the world and one who really shouldn't be on the top line.
Rangers fans must be in a bit of a panic right now, with Gaborik returning to his old injury-prone self. I can't believe that he stayed healthy last year. It was really quite a shock.
I remember when Gaborik was in Minnesota. He is arguably the most skilled player in the league. His skill with the puck is unbelievable. I can't remember a player with this much skill going through so much in a young career. It's a shame to see his talent go to waste.
Moving on to Alex Frolov, all I can say is that this season may have punched his one way ticket to the KHL. He is supposed to score goals, but he really isn't doing that. Hopefully he picks it up because the Rangers are really going to have to rely on his offensive help later this season.
I don't really have much more to say about the Rangers' top line. Two out of the three guys have tons of talent, but it really hasn't shown this season. Hopefully Gaborik can come back strong and start lighting the lamp for the boys in blue.
No. 16: New Jersey Devils
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Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner
Wait, did I see that right? Did Ilya Kovalchuk really score a goal? In overtime? Wow! I'm shocked.
I'm not the first to come out and say that this Kovalchuk in New Jersey experiment has been a disaster. He really doesn't fit into the whole New Jersey Devils' mentality.
The only reason that this line is so high up this list is sheer talent alone. They also score quite a few points in the leadership category. As far as performance this season, this group has been an utter failure.
This is going to be a very short slide because there really isn't a lot to say about the New Jersey Devils' top line right now. They have the talent and ability, but it has yet to be shown.
If I'm a Devils fan right now, I'm scared for my playoff life! Hopefully things pick up quick. I don't see how this group can't pick it up. They have all the talent in the world stacked on their top two lines.
No. 15: Chicago Blackhawks
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Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
I believe that a lot of people will be shocked at how low I have the Blackhawks ranked. My big problem with the Hawks' top line is that Jonathan Toews looks tired and disinterested. I'm sure that I'll get a lot of complaints from Chicago fans on that one but, believe me, I'm not the only one saying this.
The entire Blackhawks team really looks fatigued from last season's Stanley Cup run. It's unfortunate because Toews is one of the most well-rounded players in the game today.
One bright spot on this line has been the play of Patrick Sharp. He started out really hot and he hasn't really slowed down. In my opinion, he has a chance to really keep up this high level of production. He will be given every opportunity to succeed in Chicago this year, with some key offseason departures finally taking their toll.
On left wing we have Viktor Stalberg. I'm not really sure what to say about this guy. He has the speed and skill to be a top-line player but he hasn't really seized the role. I think that, after this season expires, we will have a better read on this guy.
Overall this is a good line but, based on power rankings of the top lines, they can't be ranked too high. Their play really needs to improve if the Hawks want to repeat this year.
No. 14: Buffalo Sabres
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Tyler Ennis - Derek Roy - Thomas Vanek
In my opinion, Derek Roy is one of the most underrated players in the National Hockey League. He is so good and not many people know about him. With 18 points in 17 games, he is leading the Sabres despite all of the negativity surrounding the team.
This line has youth in Ennis, skill in Vanek and heart in Roy. What more can you ask for out of a line? There really isn't much more you could want.
I don't think I'm alone in saying that I believe Vanek could be offering more. His production has dipped in the last couple of years, but I know that the talent is still there.
It would be really important for the Sabres to have him return to his 40-goal form. I would love to see it too, as he is in my pool.
Anyways, Tyler Ennis is starting to look like the real deal. With a few more years of development, I think that he could easily become a point-per-game player. He plays the kind of game that every coach dreams of. He is just that talented. I can't wait to see what more this kid can bring in the years to come.
No. 13: Ottawa Senators
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Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Daniel Alfredsson
This line has been good so far this season. Jason Spezza looks like a man on a mission and Daniel Alfresson is showing no signs of slowing down with age. Milan Michalek has got to be considered a disappointment this season, with injuries and a lack of production.
Alfredsson has tallied 14 points in 16 games while Spezza has 12 in 11 games. Those are impressive numbers for a guy who was rumored to be on the block all summer. He is really showing that Ottawa is where he wants to be.
He looks excited to play whenever he steps out onto the ice. I haven't seen Spezza play with this sort of dominance for a few years. Did anyone else see his shot against the Islanders? It was spectacular and worth the price of admission.
If Milan Michalek could work on his production and consistency, the Senators could move way up this list in the coming weeks. If he can, playoff hockey could be on the horizon in Ottawa.
No. 12: Pittsburgh Penguins
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Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
This line relies on Sidney Crosby for everything. Without him, this would be the worst top line in the league. Luckily for the Penguins, we can always count on Sidney.
Crosby has tallied 24 points in 17 games while the other two members combined have accounted for 17 points. What does that tell you about the level of play Crosby brings to the ice?
This team is full of top-end talent, but not a lot of depth. If Crosby had any sort of talented line-mates, this team could be way up at the top of this list. The problem for the Penguins is the opposite of the problem plaguing Columbus.
Could you imagine a line with Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash? Wow. That would be one of the best lines in hockey. As a hockey fan, I just dream about that. The powerplay unit would be unstoppable.
The entire Penguins team lives and dies with Sidney Crosby, as shown by the statistics above. Hopefully he can continue this play. Without him, the Penguins would be in a lot of trouble.
No. 11: Philadelphia Flyers
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Andreas Nodl - Mike Richards - Nikolai Zherdev
With five points in eight games, Andreas Nodl has to be classified as a pleasant surprise.
Mike Richards is being his typical self. He is scoring, hitting and being the heart of a strong Philadelphia Flyers team.
When Nikolai Zherdev was brought in, I was a little bit skeptical. He has all the talent you could ever ask for in a player, but does he show up every night? He only has five goals in 14 games (with zero assists). That production has to be considered a disappointment by the Flyers organization.
This top line doesn't have to be spectacular every night because the Flyers have so much depth on their roster.
Considering that Zherdev is really one of the more talented players in the National Hockey League, his production should increase as the season goes on. Perhaps he is still getting used to the North American style again.
I hope that this line picks up production without sacrificing its defensive game. It must continue to play and skate hard if the Flyers are to have continued success this season.
No. 10: Colorado Avalanche
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T.J Galiardi - Paul Stastny - Chris Stewart
All three of these guys bring different elements to a great Avalanche team.
Stewart is your prototypical power forward who is having an MVP-like season. He is scoring at a rapid pace and is dominant when needed. He is forceful on the forecheck and he really isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
Paul Stastny is the perfect fit to play with Chris Stewart. He is your standard playmaker with a lot of talent. He plays the game with such mental awareness. It's really impressive to see from such a young player.
T. J Galiardi is still young and developing. Playing beside players like Stastny and Stewart will only help him in the long run. I wouldn't be surprised to see his stats take a big jump this season. He can skate like the wind and he's got a good shot.
Each of these players really helps the Avalanche in a unique way. They feed off each other to bring the line ultimate success.
No. 9: Dallas Stars
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James Neal - Brad Richards - Loui Eriksson
Here is a top line with all of the talent in the world. You have three guys who are top liners in this league. Each one of them can produce when needed.
The big thing with the Stars' top line is that it, like the team as a whole, is in a period of transition. They look a bit confused out on the ice. Are they supposed to play the conservative style of Dave Tippett? Or the run-and-gun style of Marc Crawford?
That being said, this line has proved to be one of the most productive in the National Hockey League. Two of the three members are averaging over a point per game and the other isn't far behind. They look confident and very skilled.
It's very interesting to think that, on a team that everyone predicted to struggle, this trio has really shone through.
I will be interested in seeing whether the Brad Richards rumors heat up in Dallas again this year. At this point, he looks to be one of the real leaders on this team.
No. 8: Anaheim Ducks
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Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Are these guys ever on fire! After a slow start, the Anaheim Ducks finally appear to be getting back on track.
Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan are averaging a point per game each. Those are impressive numbers! Each of these guys can skate, shoot, pass, dangle and play hard. When these guys are on, they take over a game and just start dominating.
Look back to earlier in the season in a game against Vancouver: These three guys just took that game over. It was incredible to watch (unless you are a Canucks fan).
Naming Ryan Getzlaf captain appears to have been the right decision. This guy just has a confident attitude and the skill to go with it. I remember seeing him at the Olympics and thinking that he would be the next leader of the Anaheim Ducks. Having Scott Niedermayer guide you as a leader really doesn't help.
This line is one of the best in hockey. Here's hoping for more production and success!
No. 7: Montreal Canadiens
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Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Is there a line with more heart in the National Hockey League? I'm not so sure that there is.
All three of these guys are incredibly talented and quick. They aren't the biggest guys in stature, but boy can they ever put on a show. Together they create one of the most skilled lines in hockey.
Tomas Plekanec is already showing that last year wasn't just a fluke. He has scored 14 points in 15 games while remaining on the plus side of the plus/minus stat. Mike Cammalleri isn't scoring at a rapid pace like in the playoffs last year, but he is doing other things to really help the team.
The newest captain of the Canadiens, Brian Gionta, is off to a slow start this season. Yet, even now, we can see the heart that this guy has. He will do anything to help the Canadiens win.
After last year's playoffs, I think that these guys all really bonded together as a line to create one of the most dynamic scoring threats in the league.
No. 6: Detroit Red Wings
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Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Holmstrom
The Detroit Red Wings are back to being the league's elite! They are so dominant in every aspect of the game. One aspect is top line dominance.
Look at the three names above. Each of them puts fear into your body.
Zetterberg has got to be the best draft steal of the last decade! Can you imagine that every NHL team passed up on this guy more than once? What does that say about the Red Wings' drafting system?
Pavel Datsyuk is one of the most gifted centers in the game today. He is so skilled offensively and defensively. How many defensive centers are scoring over a point per game? Not too many.
Then you have Tomas Holmstrom. He isn't getting any younger, but he is one of the most effective players in the game. Sitting in front of the net and hounding goaltenders is his speciality. Most of his career goals have come right in close.
This season, all three of these players are doing what they do best. It's really great to see elite hockey being played in Detroit right now. Here's hoping that it continues.
No. 5: Boston Bruins
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Milan Lucic - Patrice Bergeron - Nathan Horton
This line has been one of the hottest in hockey over the last couple of weeks. Nathan Horton appears to be one of the best offseason acquisitions in the entire league, as seen in my previous slideshow.
Patrice Bergeron is showing why he was selected to be part of Canada's Olympic team this past year, playing really well on both ends of the ice.
Then you have Milan Lucic. After a rough year last year, he is finally back to using his size, speed and skill in such a way that makes him incredibly effective for the Bruins.
Did anyone realize just how good Nathan Horton was going to be for the Bruins? He is incredible. It's a shame things didn't go well for him in Florida. Yet, it appears as though everything worked out for the best. He is young, talented and he has size. Is there a better combination for Boston Bruins hockey?
I wouldn't be surprised to see every member of this line have a career year. They look that good. Watching them play this season has been a real treat.
Horton, Bergeron and Lucic have really taken off some of the sting from losing players like Savard and Sturm. Is anyone else really excited to see this team once it is totally healthy?
No. 4: San Jose Sharks
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Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Dany Heatley
All three of the players are scoring above a point per game. Do I really need to say any more?
Each of these players brings a sense of leadership to the rink day in and day out. It's great to see Marleau exceed expectations year in and year out after having the "C" taken away from him.
Joe Thornton has really embraced the leadership role he was given. A lot of people were surprised when it was announced. But I wasn't. If we fast-forward to the future, I think that this leadership role will help Joe Thornton take his game to the next level in the playoffs. This could be the move that turns No-Show Joe into Jumbo Joe during the postseason.
Dany Heatley is one of the best snipers in the game of hockey. His shot is lethal from anywhere on the ice. What I love about his play is that the whole Ottawa saga last season never really seemed to affect him.
It's great to see a line with this much talent succeed when their team is down. Now it can only be hoped that their play starts to lift the play of others. The Sharks need all of the help they can get right now.
No. 3: Vancouver Canucks
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Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
With Alex Burrows just returning from injury, it appears as though the Sedins are just getting ready to go.
Isn't it amazing when you listen to the Vancouver media talk about how the Sedins have yet to really show the level of play that they did last year? I'm not saying that the media is wrong, but look at the facts. The Sedin twins are on pace for 95-to-100 point seasons. If that's not on their game, what is?
Having watched them play this season, I can tell you that they do have more to offer. It's scary when you think about it. They could easily be 110-plus point players in the league. With time, I think that the chemistry will come back with Burrows and their production will jump way up.
Alex Burrows really helps the Sedins. We saw that, with their rotating line-mates, they really didn't have the chance to mesh. With Burrows back, the twins know what they have to do and where Alex is going to be. Burrows is arguably the best line-mate the twins have had during their tenure in Vancouver.
I think this Eastern road swing that the Canucks are on will really help the Sedins get back to that elite level they were at near the end of last season. As a Vancouver fan, I really can't wait to see it.
This season is going to be exciting in Vancouver and the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows are going to be right at the forefront.
No. 2: Tampa Bay Lightning
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Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
The league's leading scorer centers this line. That alone should push the Lightning to the top of this list.
Stamkos' effect on St. Louis has got to be noticed as well. He almost revived his career in a sense. St. Louis has got more heart than anyone in the league. He skates, scores and plays like a teammate should. It's great seeing him play with the young kids, Stamkos and Downie. Getting back to being a top-tier scorer was no easy task for St. Louis, but it was worth it.
Finally, the Lightning look as though they should be in the playoffs again. They are solid in just about every aspect. This line is a major part of the success that the Lightning will experience this season.
When you look at this line, you have two skilled guys and one grinder.
Steve Downie is a rough, and sometimes dirty, player. He plays tough, he scores, he skates and he sticks up for his team. He is the kind of guy that you love to have on your team, but you hate to go up against. I'll be interested to see how he fairs this season, with more and more teams taking notice of his antics after last season's success.
No. 1: Washington Capitals
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Alexander Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
In my mind, there was never really any doubt about who was going to lead this list. The Washington Capitals have the best top line in the National Hockey League.
With Alexander Ovechkin, you can never go wrong. He dominates nearly every game that he plays in. Is there a better player in the game? In my opinion there isn't. He plays on the edge, but with skill.
Then you put Nicklas Backstrom, one of the best playmakers in the game, beside him. Does that spell success before they even step onto the ice? Yes, it really does. These two guys just work so well together. Backstrom is completely selfless, always giving up the puck, and Ovechkin has no problem shooting bullets at opposing goaltenders.
I think that Alexander Semin is the forgotten man in this whole situation. Sitting behind Alex Ovechkin can't be a lot of fun, but he makes the most of it. He has one of the best shots in the game and he just keeps getting better and better. I don't think that many hockey fans realize just how good this guy is.
The Capitals have one of the best rosters in the game and it is topped off by the best top line in the NHL.