What if statistics chose the All-Star lines?

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No, not roster. Lines. This won’t be a discussion of hits and misses for the rosters.

While usually Hockey-Graphs tends to stay in the more serious and analytical side of sports statistical writing, I thought “why not have a little fun” since that’s what the All-Star break is supposedly about.

How would one shape the line ups for tonight if the best (minus some missed calls and injured) in the business were designed by statistical analysis (with a pinch of old-school eye-test)?

I’ll pretend I’m shaping a regular team, as opposed to a team running all four lines and three pairs. Of course, I’m being a bit silly too.

Don’t get too upset or take things too seriously. This was all in fun.

Team Foligno

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The numbers here are for 5v5 only and for this season and the last combined (including playoffs). Of course, this will under appreciate elite power play players (like Alexander Ovechkin) but it’s for one game, so whatever.

Rick Nash –  Patrice Bergeron – Jakub Voracek

The most important and dangerous thing in hockey is a top-tier two way line. A line that can both create and suppress. Bergeron is probably the best all around player in terms of out possessing and chancing the other team; his Corsi is superbly above expectations given usage, and he posts crazy numbers in all categories while being a little underrated in offensive production. Voracek is no slouch in the two-way numbers and adds some play making skill as the leagues top scorer and assist producer. Every line needs its goalscorer, and that is Nash. Nash won’t be the driver of possession but he scores a whole bunch.

Filip Forsberg – Jonnathan Toews – Vladimir Tarasenko

What’s better than one possession line? Two possession lines! While not quite the possession driver of Bergeron, Toews is the second best centre in the shot metrics column on his team. He gets a right winger who scores a few more points per minute than Voracek and pushes the play about equally well. Forsberg isn’t a plus in the dCorsi column, but will likely find it easier to meet expectations with Toews and Tarasenko on his line.

Tyler Seguin – Ryan Getzlaf – Tyler Johnson

Welcome to the “shot quality” line. A line that boasts 2.8, 3.0, and 2.4 points per sixty minutes of play. This is elite of the elites when it comes to scoring. Just imagine how they can perform when playing sheltered minutes due to the hard work of the two other lines. Just ridiculous. Besides, two Tylers… Common!

Jonny Gaudreau – John Tavares – Patrick Elias

A bit of the leftovers, but still pretty solid. While they don’t boast the play driving skills of Bergeron or Toews lines or the scoring prowess of the Getzlaf line, they still carry pretty decent numbers. They should enjoy taking the minutes leftover from the above lines.

Mark Giordano – Justin Faulk

While Giordano’s impact on shot metrics is probably exaggerated somewhat due to the terribleness that is the Calgary Flames, he’s still an underrated player. What better guy to pair with an underrated defenseman than another underrated skater in Justin Faulk. The two would fit perfect playing a lot of minutes with the top two lines.

Brent Seabrook – Aaron Ekblad

Did you know Ekblad is scoring that much this year? Quite the accomplishment at his age! Seabrook is no shrimp in the scoring department and brings some veteran presence to shelter the rookie. These two would be fun trying to pair with the Getzlaf line as much as possible.

Ryan Suter – Shea Weber

Of course we were going to reunite these two. The two defenders once posted elite numbers together. After getting separated they’ve been shells of their former selves (still good players obviously, just relatively speaking). They are prime examples of how chemistry impacts results but is difficult to measure. Let’s spark this chemistry once again.

Team Foligno

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While Toews’ constructed his team primarily around elite two-way forwards, Foligno seems to have built from the backend. If Toews gamble in reuniting Suter-Weber works though, Foligno could be in some trouble. Foligno doesn’t look to be the greatest candidate for becoming a GM when he retires.

Alexander Ovechkin – Anze Kopitar – Radim Vrbata

Kopitar is Foligno’s answer to Bergeron. Kopitar has posted two-way numbers only second to Bergeron. Alexander Ovechkin is the only natural left winger on team Foligno, and I want to keep the next two best centres as centres. Ovechkin and Vrabata will give ample opportunities for Kopitar to set-up as both are in the elite categories for producing shot volume.

Steven Stamkos – Claude Giroux – Patrick Kane

Ryan Johansen – Nick Foligno – Phil Kessel

Without the two-way skill depth of Team Toews, Team Foligno has opted for a more balanced middle six set up. Giroux received the higher producing but lower dCorsi forwards, while Foligno had the opposite. Of course, part of it was just me keeping Kessel and Stamkos away because 1) they are the two best remaining goal scorers and 2) to troll Toronto Maple Leaf fans on how they will always be separate.

Zemgus Girgensen – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Bobby Ryan

All apologies to Latvia, but this is more of a leftovers line. Don’t feel bad for Bobby Ryan, he doesn’t even believe in CORSI.

Duncan Keith – Kevin Shattenkirk

Team Foligno carries a pretty impressive defensive core. Duncan Keith works well with Seabrook, so we might as well try him with a puck mover like Shattenkirk. The two have produced impressive dCorsi numbers and are pretty good at what they do.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Drew Doughty

This is another pair that seems like a natural fit. OEL frees himself from Zbynek Michalek anchor, while being paired with a far better Drew Doughty. To match with the forwards, Foligno is going for a more dispersed defensive line up.

Dustin Byfuglien – Brent Burns

Oh common… you knew I had to!

What better possible pair exists than putting a guy who was mostly played as a forward even though he’s a better defenseman with a guy who was mostly played as a defenseman even though he’s a better forward. Byfuglien tends to do whatever he wants and roams when playing defense, so he might as well be the right shot guy to go on his off side.

There’s a reason why this tends to be a more serious blog. Don’t worry, I’ll stick to my day job.


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