UNICORN

The idea of three scoring lines has been around for a long time (my intro was the 1970-71 Bruins) but it is a rare, rare item. Imagine a hockey team SO strong they had nine forwards who could score goals at a rate that suggested an offensive, or scoring line. The mind boggles.

Recently, the Oilers have had some success with three different lines and that has people talking again. THREE scoring lines? Really?

The 1970-71 Bruins boasted three scoring lines:

  • Phil Esposito-Wayne Cashman-Ken Hodge combined for 140 goals
  • Fred Stanfield-Johnny Bucyk-Johnny McKenzie combined for 106 goals
  • Derek Sanderson-Wayne Carleton-Ed Westfall combined for 76 goals

That’s three scoring lines (in a 78 game season) I can get behind. For me, that kind of offense is extremely rare, and most teams had a designated ‘checking’ line which made the third line a more defensive one (Bruins checking line was Sanderson-Westfall, but they scored all the damn time).

The 1983-84 Oilers boasted three scoring lines:

  • Wayne Gretzky-Dave Semenko-Jari Kurri combined for 145 goals*
  • Mark Messier-Willy Lindstrom-Glenn Anderson combined for 113 goals*
  • Kevin McClelland-Dave Hunter-Pat Hughes combined for 57 goals*
  • Ken Linseman-Jaroslav Pouzar-Dave Lumley combined for 37 goals*

*this is wildly misleading, and I apologize. The Oilers lines that season were in constant motion, with Messier’s move to C placing Linseman on a lesser line (but he was still a major part of the offense). The top 9 would have included Linseman and excluded Semenko most of the time, but it would be insincere of me to list Linseman with 99 and Jari Kurri. Suffice to say they had three scoring lines. My personal thanks to Bruce McCurdy for his fantastic memory.

UNUSUAL

In order for the Oilers to boast three scoring lines (even in this era of more defensive hockey compared to the 70s and 80s) we’d need to see impressive goals per game totals. With the season 24 games old—and the knowledge that these lines haven’t been together for long—it’s interesting to see how well these players are doing offensively.

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Taylor Hall-Jordan Eberle have combined for 19 goals
  • Boyd Gordon-Ryan Smyth-David Perron have combined for 17 goals
  • Sam Gagner-Nail Yakupov-Ales Hemsky have combined for 9 goals

The problem usually occurs when players don’t get enough powerplay time, but if Dallas Eakins runs 5 forwards on the powerplay we may see two of these lines perform at or near a point per game this season. All three? UNICORN!

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

 

No, not yet. There’s a lot of talent here, though. I think it best to bet against three scoring lines for the Edmonton Oilers this era. It’ll be a pleasant surprise should it arrive.

  • YFC Prez

    Perron Trade, Horcoff trade combined with Gordon signing and Ferrence, Belov signings clear wins

    Grebs and Barbie sigings, and trading away Smid to our rival for nothing….not even a bag of pucks…clear losses

    Mac T isn’t so bad after all, better than Tambi and doing fairly well for a rookie GM. Still has a lot to learn though, I’d say his positive impact on the roster has outweighed his blunders.

    Edit: stupid clumsy fingers…that should of been a reply to Taylor Gang but I missed and trashed you instead. Oh well makes up for the double props I guess. lol

  • DSF

    I’ve ripped pretty hard on Katz et al this year and he has done nothing to change my mind so far. However MacT has made three real solid moves this year which are worthy of mention. Boyd Gordon is what I see as one very hard-working player. The other is of course David Perron. I recall him withe Blues and playing the Oil hard.

    At the risk of waxing poetic Perron has been another outstanding move by Mact. I have all kinds of time for someone who is an outstanding proto-typical pro. This may be the best 3rd line group we have seen here for a very long time.

    The last was the way he moved Horcoff and minimized the impact on the team.

  • DSF

    I’m curious why people don’t mention that the poor start tonthis season pretty much carries over from the terrible finish to last season. I’m hoping the team is really turning a corner now that we’re finally healthy.

  • DSF

    Totally off topic, but seriously, is there a more annoying Vancouver Canuck tire pumper than Kelly Hrudey. I thought he was going to break into a “Go Canucks Go” chant halfway through the third period tonight. He might as well just dress up as one of the those irritating green men and dance round the HNIC studio.

    • The Soup Fascist

      There is no bigger homer than John Garett.

      With Kelly Hrudy, you got probably the worst color man in hockey, at least on this side of the border. Says the dumbest things, and cannot put a sentence together….he should not be on the air….

      • RedMan

        You’re right but Hrudy is an Edmonton kid who delights in dumping on the Oil. And the Oil have given him lots of material to dump on. Besides he lives in Calgary from what I understand and I always thought he was pumping The Flames tires more than the VanCityWhiners. The 1980’s Oilers made him and his baby blue dewrag look pretty stupid.

        On the positive side I think Ray Ferrarro and Louie Debrusk are evolving into two of the best up and comers. Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller are at the top of the heap. Jim Hughson makes me want to puke in my mouth a little bit. He and Garrett are off the scale unabashed VavCityWhiner homers.

        ….and Stauffer….well someone needs to clue him in that it is never about him. Just sayin’. Nuff said.

    • Silver Streak

      Completely agree…Hrudey is so tough to take I jumped to an American feed last night from Chicago…and that speaks volumes. Why is Hrudey involved in all the western games…He lives in Calgary, but isn`t Jim Huston a Vancouverite ? and airfare isn`t that costly ! CBC should be knocking on TSN`s door and stealing some talent.

  • RedMan

    Thanks Lowetide, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve read an ultra-optimist Kool-Aid article about the Oilers. Did Kevin Lowe put you up to this one?

    First off, you’re comparing a 29th place team in 2013-14 to the 1970-71 Bruins and the 1983-84 Oilers. That’s not just Kool-Aid, that’s also an insult to the 70’s Bruins and 80’s Oilers. You didn’t even mention that the teams from the 70’s and 80’s didn’t have a salary cap constraining their personnel decisions. With scorers usually earning a premium over checkers, how long do you think a team can hold together a roster with three viable checking lines?

    “Three scoring lines” is just another excuse to keep a bunch of flashy players who don’t backcheck or hit. Until Gagner, Omark and another smurf are moved to another team, this team will be an NHL doormat.