The Hockey News – Ultimate Pool Guide - - Front Page - BY MUR­RAY TOWNSEND

(No. 1 pro­jected scorer: 106 pts)

HOCKEY POOL OLD­TIMERS vividly re­mem­ber the fall of 1995. It was a time when tweets came from your pet budgie, smart phones meant push but­ton rather than ro­tary, and In­sta­grams came from Po­laroid cam­eras.

It was also a time when Jim Corsi was known best as a goalie coach and hockey pool in­for­ma­tion ar­rived from The Hockey News in your mailbox – the one by your front door.

The hottest hockey fan­tasy in­for­ma­tion in the 1995-96 pre­sea­son was that Dave Roche, a 55-goal scorer for Wind­sor in the On­tario League and a tough guy to boot, was go­ing to play on a line with Mario Lemieux. Ev­ery poolie who had done re­search had him highly rated as a sleeper and proudly picked him be­fore some­one else got him. A raw rookie with no pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence, he had just one point in his first 13 games. He came around in the playo s, though, and was sixth in scor­ing on a Pen­guins team loaded with fu­ture Hall of Famers. They would suc­cumb to the Florida Pan­thers in seven games in the ‘Year of the Rat.’ Roche went on to put up good goal and penalty minute num­bers in the mi­nors, but never got an­other shot at the NHL.

Things have changed slightly in 20 years. Roche is at peace on his wa­ter­front home near Peter­bor­ough, Ont., though he prob­a­bly wishes some­one would stop us­ing him as an ex­am­ple. Corsi is bet­ter known for a stat named af­ter him than his coach­ing. In­for­ma­tion comes across Twit­ter feeds sec­onds af­ter it hap­pens, and we can check any line com­bi­na­tion in any game even while it’s still be­ing played. What tech­nol­ogy hasn’t given us is a sure-fire way to pre­dict line­mates prior to up­com­ing sea­sons.

De­spite 20 years of his­tory re­peat­ing it­self, we’re still all over any hint that a cer­tain player is go­ing to play with the big boys on the top line. An edge, any kind of edge, is worth our time. The prob­lem is, we still tend to put too much stock in the in­for­ma­tion. This year, more than any in re­cent mem­ory, there’s a lot of in­sta­bil­ity on the top lines of a lot of teams. We’ll go through them, with the op­tions avail­able, and see if we can’t find an edge.

The first thing to know is that none of these are sure things. They’re sleeper po­ten­tials, spec­u­la­tive picks or cheap op­tions in a salary cap league.

Nowa­days it’s more duos than trios at the top of the lineup. Look around the league. Teams have two dom­i­nant scor­ers, not three, and they stick to­gether. It’s not that the third mem­bers don’t mat­ter, it’s just that they don’t mat­ter as much.

Of­ten their value is de­fen­sive, and of­ten they sit down when the power play comes on. Ask Alexandre Bur­rows, a third wheel with the Sedins who scored plenty of goals at even strength, but had a front row seat for the power play.

If they’re too good of­fen­sively, teams may want to bal­ance their scor­ing. Ev­ery­body wants a strong sec­ond scor­ing line. Why put Ev­geni Malkin with Sid­ney Crosby and Chris Ku­nitz when you can have two top lines in­stead of one?

Even so, we still want to know the add-on for a dy­namic duo be­cause they’re still go­ing to reap ben­e­fits sta­tis­ti­cally. The best ex­am­ple is Pas­cal Dupuis, an e ec­tive player who has been a medi­ocre scorer his ca­reer. Thanks to Crosby and Ku­nitz, he sud­denly be­came a good scorer and is viewed as a bet­ter player be­cause of them. See next page for case study.


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