JamesB Posted February 14, 2015 Share Posted February 14, 2015 It is been repeated many times on CDC that "the Canucks do not have a 2nd line. They have three 3rd lines." (I admit that I have repeated that statement at least twice myself.) It is also occasionally stated that the Canucks do not a have legitimate first line -- that the Sedin line is nothing more than a good second line, followed by three 3rd lines. Do these statements stand up to analysis? I think the answer is no. Here is what I did. I went to NHL,com and downloaded all the scoring data for forwards for this year. After dropping players who played less than 20 games (small sample issues) I ordered the players by points per game (PPG). There are 30 teams in the league. This means that at any given time there are 90 first line players. Of course players move across lines, but the top 90 players in PPG should give us a good idea of what we can reasonably expect from first liners. Similarly, the players ranked 91 though 180 should give us reasonable expectations for 2nd liners, etc. For each line category I found the median PPG (i.e. the PPG number exactly in the middle) For example, the median PPG for first liners is the player ranked 45 in PPG and that PPG is 0.78. I will call anyone above the median a good player for that line. I also found the 80th percentile (i.e. the guy who is ahead of 20% of the players in that line category). I will call anyone above the 80th percentile a "legitimate" first liner or whatever. I call the bottom 20% for a given line category "marginal" for that line category. Here are the results. 1st line: Good first liners have a PPG of 0.78 or above Legitimate first liners have a PPG of 0.68 or above Marginal first liners have a PPG between 0.63 and 0.68. 2nd line: Good second liners have a PPG above 0.55 Legitimate second liners have a PPG above 0.49 Marginal second liners have a PPG in the range of 0.45 to 0.49 Good 3rd liners are 0.38 or above and legitimate 3rd liners are .34 or above. For 4th liners we are looking at a median of 0.23 and an 80th percentile of 0.15 Here is how the Canucks stack up. The Sedins have PPGs of 0.85 and Vrbata is at 0.78. All three are good first liners by any reasonable measure. They are not just a legitimate first line. They are a good first line. When we put Burrows on the line instead of Vrbata, the line as a whole is still a good first line as their average PPG is 0.68. It is just flat out wrong to say the Sedin line is not a legitimate 1st line. We have gotten spoiled because a few years ago the Sedins line (with Burrows) was not just good but the best line in the league for 2 years based on either PPG or plus/minus (when Henrik and Daniel won the NHL scoring title in consecutive years). They are not that good any more. But they are still good. Our second liners are as follows. Burrows has a PPG of 0.49, Bonino has a PPG of 0.48, and Higgins has a PPG of 0.45. This makes them marginal second liners. Not great, but better than a lot of people think, If we put Vrbata in for Burrows the line as a whole is a legitimate second line. As for bottom 6 guys, we have Richardson at 0.44, Vey at 0.4, Matthias at 0.38, Kassian is at 0.37, Hansen at 0.36, Horvat at 0.35 and Dorsett at 0.31. Except for Dorsett these guys would all qualify as "legitimate 3rd liners". And Dorsett is close and would be a marginal 3rd liners or very good 4th liners. (And having a 19 year old like Horvat doing this well and playing excellent defense is very encouraging.) So an accurate assessment of Canuck forwards is that 1. We have good first line 2. We have a marginal or legitimate second line (depending on where Vrbata plays). 3. We have two legitimate third lines. Convenient rules of thumb as as follows. Roughly speaking, we are looking for about 3/4 of a point per game for first liners, half a point per game for second liners, a third of a point per game for 3rd liners, and a quarter of a point for 4th liners. With average defence and goaltending a team that can do that should make the playoffs. If the Canucks continue at their current pace they should make the playoffs (barely). Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.