Ranking the 5 Best Line Combinations in New Jersey Devils' History
One word comes to mind when hockey coaches piece together offensive players to create lines. That word is chemistry. Since 1982 when the New Jersey Devils became a franchise, hundreds of different line combinations have been created, a handful of them memorable and with exceptional chemistry.
Players on these particular lines somehow know exactly where their other linemates are on the ice the whole game. It’s amazing to watch plays unravel when a player knows where his teammate is without even needing to look.
The Devils have had many line combinations throughout their history that have been amazing. Not necessarily in a sense of scoring goals, but in a sense that the line is hard to play against and all of the players just seem to click.
This is a list of the five best line combinations throughout the franchise’s history, all of which had exceptional chemistry.
5. Madden, Pandolfo and Brylin
This is a line that never got enough credit when they played together because this trio never had eye-popping statistics.
John Madden, Jay Panolfo and Sergei Brylin were one of the best defensive lines in the game when they played together in the early 2000’s.
All three won the Stanley Cup in 2000 and 2003, and without them, the Devils most likely would not have won these cups.
Madden, Pandolfo and Brylin would be matched up against the best scorers in the NHL and would shut them down. In fact, Madden actually won the Selke Trophy in 2001 for being the best defensive forward, the same year the Devils made the Stanley Cup but came up short in seven games to the Colorado Avalanche.
Between 1999 and 2006 these three players combined for a plus minus of 125. That says a lot considering the fact that they logged some major minutes against other team’s top lines.
4. ZZ Pops
Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac made up the ZZ Pops line.
The peculiar name actually has meaning behind it. “ZZ,” stands for Zajac and Zach and “Pops,” was Langenbrunner’s nickname because he was the captain of the team at the time and also a veteran.
Zajac and Parise had about as much chemistry as anybody in the NHL when they played together in 2009-2010, add that to a Jamie Langenbrunner slap shot and it’s a recipe for success.
Most people would credit Zajac and Parise’s chemistry to the North Dakota Fighting Sioux where they both attended school. But, believe it or not, the two actually never played on the same team while in college.
Langenbrunner’s ability to blast the puck complemented Parise’s grit and skill in front of the net. Zajac contributed by moving the puck and also being a scoring threat if need be.
While the three never won a cup with the Devils, they were a dominant top line that was always a threat to score.
3. The EGG Line
The “EGG,” line was another offensive line that brought the Devils great success in the playoffs and regular season.
Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez were an offensive catalyst for the Devils when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2003. Gionta at the time was a natural goal scorer and Gomez was a No. 1 center with great speed that could move the puck well. Patrik Elias was, well… Patrik Elias; the all-time career points leader for the Devils.
In the 2005-2006 season all players on the EGG line averaged more than a point per game, unfortunately Elias did not play the full season though because he was sidelined with Hepatitis. Gionta also holds the record for most goals scored by a Devil in a single season during the 2005-2006 season, partially thanks to his two line-mates.
2. The Crash Line
Players on opposing teams wished that they were not on the ice while Crash Line was.
Mike Peluso, Bobby Holik and Randy McKay were scary during the 1995 playoffs. These three fourth-liners were named the Crash Line because of their size; put simply, they crashed.
All three of them weighed over 200 pounds each and accomplished much more than the average fourth-liners would.
Not only could they hit and fight, but the three also combined for 13 goals and 23 points in the 1995 playoffs when the Devils won their first ever Stanley Cup.
The line played together during the mid 1990’s, the same time the Devils started establishing themselves as playoff competitors year in and year out.
1. The A-Line
The A-line is probably the most famous line in the history of the Devils, and rightfully so.
Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora and Jason Arnott led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000 and 2001. Although the Devils did not win in 2001, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row is an accomplishment on its own.
The third member of the line, Sykora, was in the hospital at the time, but Elias put on a Sykora jersey during the cup celebrations to pay tribute to his injured line-mate.
The trio combined for 428 points during the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons and was the best offensive line to play together on the Devils.