NHL

Fantasy hockey luck index – Bruins, Kraken rank among the luckiest in the NHL

It’s time for another check-in on how the ranks stack up in goals vs. expected goals, as tracked by MoneyPuck.

As of Sunday, there were 72 lines in the NHL that have played 150 minutes together at five-on-five this season. Some are still together, but some have not been together for some time and are no longer relevant.

For example, the line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli has one of the bigger gaps between their goals and expected goals, but the Flames haven’t used these three on a line together in weeks now.

Line consistency is difficult to maintain throughout the season. If a line had held together all season and spent 10 minutes of five-on-five per game, they would be well over 400 minutes together this season. But only three lines have reached that threshold: the top lines of the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning and the third line of the Carolina Hurricanes. In fact, only 12 lines have even broken the 300-minute mark this season.

Our “lucky lines” are NHL trios with more goals than the expected goal formulas say they should have, while “troubled trios” are the lines with fewer goals than the math says they should. Most stats are through Jan. 22 (but some have been manually updated since then, if applicable) and rely heavily on MoneyPuck.com, with some assists from EvolvingHockey.com.

Lucky lines

Andrei Kuzmenko, Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev, Vancouver Canucks (expected goals, 9.1; actual goals, 17): Interestingly, this line had only played a handful of games together since we last checked in on the online expected goals column on Nov. 27 — 63 minutes combined, to be precise. But fresh under the watchful eye of new bench boss Rick Tocchet, the trio reunited Tuesday in its debut. And guess what? They scored two goals, once again exceeding their expected goal total. It’s easy to see where the disparity comes from now, as Kuzmenko is riding a league-leading 25.6% shooting percentage. We don’t have a baseline for Kuzmenko’s shooting percentage, so maybe it’s true. Either way, he’s available in 40% of leagues and on a top line under a new coach; he is worth adding.

David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha, Boston Bruins (expected goals, 9.2; actual goals, 17): This “luck” is actually just Pasta being Pasta. He makes expected goal metrics look silly most seasons. But I wanted to highlight this line because Zacha becomes unloved. Zacha, in just 6.7% of leagues, has been steady at 1.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) over the past month, which is eclipsed by his 1.3 FPPG on the season due to a slow start.

Matty Beniers, Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken (expected goals, 8.6; actual goals, 18): This line does not exist in this form at the moment and should be more referred to as the duo of Beniers and Eberle plus a friend. And while much of the blame for the “luck” can be placed on McCann for being tied with Kuzmenko for the highest shooting percentage in the league, Beniers and Eberle are still outpacing expected goals with other linemates. Especially with Andre Burakovsky, now the third member of the lineup when healthy, the trio has 10 goals but only 5.7 expected goals. But I still don’t think we should expect Beniers to cool off when the season ends; he’s just that good.

Other lucky lines:

  • Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch, Buffalo Sabres (expected goals, 21.5; actual goals, 28).

  • Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and Milan Lucic, Calgary Flames (expected goals, 6.8; actual goals, 11).

  • Jamie Benn, Ty Dellandrea and Wyatt Johnston, Dallas Stars (expected goals, 10.6; actual goals, 20).

  • Mark Scheifele, Cole Perfetti and Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (expected goals, 11.1; actual goals, 15).

  • Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars (expected goals, 24; actual goals, 32).

Troubled trios

Tim Stutzle, Claude Giroux and Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (expected goals, 17.9; actual goals, 12): I wasn’t going to include this trio because when the Sens are healthy, this isn’t a line. But with Josh Norris back for the rest of the campaign, we might see these three together again. That combination wasn’t in place just before Norris’ brief return, but it’s been the Senators’ most successful line this season — and that’s despite the fact that they’ve had “luck” with expected goals. This re-injury for Norris is really unfortunate as his presence seems to be the key to the Sens having two good lines instead of just one. The return of that line determines Giroux’s fate in fantasy as he doesn’t produce on a unit with Shane Pinto and Alex DeBrincat — literally, as that trio has zero goals this season but has allowed seven in just 58 minutes ( worst line in the NHL not from the Chicago Blackhawks for goals against per 60).

Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (expected goals, 13.7; actual goals, 9): This line comes and goes, but was together before the Rangers game on Monday as the team pushed the “all-in” version of their depth chart (Kreider, Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin as the top line). While Kakko is overall pretty close to his individual expected goals total (10.8 expected; nine actual), I wonder if he owes something from this line combo and earned something extra from his other frequent line combo. When Kakko is paired with Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil, the trio is part of the “lucky lines” squad with 6.4 expected goals and 11 actual goals this season. Maybe we won’t be happy with the final outcome of this fantasy season, but I think Kakko (and Lafreniere) have a bright fantasy future.

Trevor Moore, Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson, Los Angeles Kings (expected goals, 15.8; actual goals, 9): Moore isn’t expected back until after next week’s all-star break, meaning we wouldn’t see this line back until Feb. 11. Moore hasn’t played since December 23rd, but this line was locked in for the Kings as a unit until then. In his absence, Alex Iafallo has held down the fort, and that trio has 5.9 expected goals and six actual goals, so essentially right on the money. Danault and Arvidsson both teeter on the brink of being fantasy lineup locks, but aren’t helping themselves with stretches like the past six games. The line with Moore has a slightly better expected goals per. 60 rate than the line with Iafallo, so it will be interesting to see how the Kings handle Moore’s return. And regardless, we’d like to get a little more consistency out of Danault and Arvidsson so we can put them on the fantasy roster and let them stay there.

Other Troubled Trios:

  • Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (expected goals, 13.4; actual goals, 9):

  • Paul Stastny, Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes (expected goals, 15.3; actual goals, 11).

  • William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, Vegas Golden Knights (expected goals, 18.3; actual goals, 13).

  • Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, Calgary Flames (expected goals, 13.2; actual goals, 8).

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