Finding the right line combinations is key to any hockey team’s success, and it can often take several seasons to find the perfect trio. Once the right one is in place, two players will usually develop stronger chemistry because of their complementary playing styles. There have been some stand-out duos in the NHL this season, but these five are at the top of the list.
5. Boston Bruins – Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak
David Pastrnak is one of the best offensive players in the league right now. He proved that on April 23 when he returned to the ice after missing nine games with an injury and scored on his first shot against the New York Rangers. He also scored the 500th point of his career – at 25 years old, he became the third-fastest player to reach the milestone.
Despite Brad Marchand’s recent scoring slump, he is still one of Boston’s most consistent goal scorers. He currently leads all left-wingers in points, and now that Pastrnak is back, Bruins fans are hoping the pair can create some magic in the postseason.
4. Calgary Flames – Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm
Johnny Gaudreau is having one of the best offensive seasons in Calgary Flames history. With 113 points already, if he plays out the rest of the season, he is projected to finish with 115 points. This would put him in second place on Calgary’s all-time single-season points leaderboard.
Elias Lindholm joined the Flames in 2018 and quickly became their top center. With 229 shots on goal this season, he is a threat by himself; however, with Gaudreau, the pair is lethal. Both are averaging a point per game, and if Calgary can work out Gaudreau’s contract and sign him to an extension before he becomes a free agent in July, these two will be the duo to watch next season as well.
3. Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid and Evander Kane
At 24 years of age, Connor McDavid is an NHL superstar. He just scored his 122nd point, a career-high, and he leads the league in points this season. He won the Hart Trophy in 2020-21, awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player, and he is a top contender to win the award this season. His speed and playmaking ability make him the Oilers’ most valuable offensive weapon.
The Oilers signed Evander Kane on Jan. 27, and he quickly became an asset to the top line. He clicked with McDavid and has scored 22 goals in 41 games. There are areas of his game that need improvement, like his defensive play; however, his raw talent is undeniable and should be huge for the Oilers in the playoffs.
2. Washington Capitals – Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom
The Washington Capitals have enjoyed success over the last 14 years thanks in large part to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom has spent most of his career on the top line with Ovechkin and recently scored his 1,000th NHL point, becoming only the second player in franchise history to reach that milestone.
Recently, Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season, the ninth time he has accomplished that feat. Washington has shifted Backstrom back and forth between the first and second line, but his ability to make plays combined with Ovechkin’s goal-scoring makes them a dangerous threat against any team.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel
The Pittsburgh Penguins just clinched their spot in the playoffs for the 16th-straight season, which is the longest streak of any North American professional sport. Captain Sidney Crosby is in his 17th season and playing some of the best hockey of his career. He just recorded his tenth 30-goal season, and with 84 points, he leads the league with 11 seasons of 80 or more points among active players. He has taken his team to four Stanley Cup Finals and won three championships.
Crosby is an all-time great, and Jake Guentzel complements him perfectly. He just scored his 40th goal of the season for the second time in his career. Guentzel is a smart player who is not afraid to put himself in harm’s way to score goals. He is extremely competitive, and the Penguins will need him to continue playing at a high level into the postseason. Crosby and Guentzel seem to play better under pressure and in traffic. They are known for their give-and-go plays beneath the goal line and have the ability to create separation better than any other duo in the league.
In today’s NHL getting to the net and scoring goals is more difficult than ever. The players on this list are not only goal scorers but also excel in all areas of offense, which is why they are fixtures on the top line.
My name is Sylvie McCarthy and I am a graduate of the University of North Florida. I have spent time as a sports writer for the Casper Star Tribune in Casper, Wyoming and the Picayune Item in Picayune, Mississippi. Sports is my passion, and I am so excited to be writing for The Hockey Writers where I will be covering the Pittsburgh Penguins.