January 12 2012 11:28PM
It is a somewhat unlikely line, being that one of the wingers may be on his way out of town and the center spends much of his time on the wings these days. Having said, that Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall are burning opposition defenses at a torrid pace.
The Edmonton Oilers have rolled some stunning lines over the years: Gretzky-Tikkanen-Kurri, Messier-Simpson-Anderson, Weight-Smyth-Guerin and a few others along the way. Lately, the Gagner-Hall-Hemsky line has been the best Oiler line (hey, I know that's not exactly a ringing endorsement) and seem to have some chem.
Dennis King scoring chances (EV)
- NJD game: Hall 6-4; Hemsky 6-3; Gagner 5-2 (TEAM: 11-12)
- DAL game: Hall 2-6; Hemsky 2-4; Gagner 3-9 (TEAM: 9-21)
- STL game: Hall 1-4; Hemsky 3-5; Gagner 3-6 (TEAM: 8-17)
- BUF game: Hall 5-5; Hemsky 5-3; Gagner 5-3 (TEAM 14-15)
- CHI game: Hall 5-4; Hemsky 4-4; Gagner 7-3 (TEAM 12-11)
In these games, Edmonton's even strength scoring chances are 54-76, meaning they are getting about 41.5% of all the scoring chances at even strength. The ASH line is getting 19-23 (.452 for Hall); 20-19 (.513 for Hemsky) and 23-23 (.500 for Gagner) if my math is correct. Basically, that line over the last 5 games is about .500 and the rest of the team is well behind. This doesn't account for quality of opponent or zone start, but by eye and by math this line seems to have some good things going on.
When the Nuge and Eberle return, the club might assign Ryan Smyth to their portside once again. A season that has seen this team (at times) ice only one solid offensive line should be able to ice two offensive lines and (what's more) all of them could be made available for next season too.
Ales Hemsky's injuries are galling and frustrating, but the Oilers need skilled men. Even with all of these first overall picks and incredible kids like Eberle the Edmonton Oilers aren't scoring enough goals to contend.
This little run from the Gagner-Hall-Hemsky line might just be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
What's that old line? "So you're saying there's a chance?" I think that's it. Ales Hemsky has had a nice stretch here of late with this makeshift line of the '07 disappointment (for some) and the #1 overall from 2010. Here's hoping they continue the fine play, the right people notice and the Oilers choose wisely this deadline.