How much does matching competition matter on a team level?

This is certainly a terrible matchup – Matt Martin vs Alex Ovechkin – but it’s not an example really of terrible line management.

Quite frequently in talk about lines of a hockey team, you’ll find talk about how a certain team should be matching up certain lines against certain opponents.  For example, a recent comment to me on twitter stated roughly that: “As long as the Isles match-up the Frans Nielsen line with the Canes’ Eric Staal line, they’ll be in great shape” – as the Canes basically only had one quality line (the Staal line) at the time of that comment.  But as I replied on twitter, that isn’t quite right:

Competition, on a possession level, is pretty much a zero sum game in hockey.

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