The top line of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski was the highlight of the Dallas Stars 2020-21 campaign. The trio dominated play, accounting for 139 points in 56 games during the shortened season. This year, due to an injury and some bad luck, they got off to a slow start. However, over the last couple of weeks, they have really started to find their groove.
Stars Top Line Getting Hot
The 2021-22 season did not begin the way the Stars had hoped. They struggled to score goals and saw many of their top players performing well below their potential. This included the top line of Robertson, Hintz, and Pavelski. Pavelski had only recorded two points through the first seven games, Hintz was stuck on zero goals through 11 games despite many high-danger scoring chances, and Robertson took a few games to get up to speed after missing the first five with an injury. Now, all three players are starting to get hot.
In the eight games since Robertson’s return, the trio has accounted for 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists). Prior to last night’s lopsided loss to the Minnesota Wild, Pavelski had recorded points in seven straight games, Hints had goals in three straight, and Robertson racked up seven points in the last four games alone. As their line showed their ability to take over a game on a consistent basis, it was clear they had hit their stride once again.
“We just want to get this thing rolling. We showed against Philadelphia that we could kind of take the game over. Alternatively, we showed [Tuesday against Detroit] that we could get a lead. Even though they push back, we can hold onto it and continue to get the win. Two different types of wins, and it’s good to learn how to do both.”– Stars forward Jason Robertson
The success of the top line is huge for Dallas in multiple ways. First, it takes some pressure off the other nine forwards, especially the older skilled players such as Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov. Second, it allows them to control matchups, now having the ability to roll out two or three offensively capable lines. Finally, it gives the team more consistency within the lineup, something that Rick Bowness and the Stars have been searching for over the past few seasons.
“I like the way the lines looked. Now the chemistry of the lines, it has to come from them.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
For the top line, that chemistry has definitely arrived.
Robertson, Hintz, & Pavelski Have Great Chemistry
The Stars’ top line is a unique bunch. Pavelski is 37 years old and recently played in his 1,100th NHL game. Hintz is 25 and exploded onto the scene last year after a few seasons under his belt. Meanwhile, Robertson is just 22 and finished second in the 2020-21 Calder Trophy race for the league’s best rookie. While each player has a very different skillset, they seem to complement each other perfectly on and off the ice. Pavelski uses his high hockey IQ and shot-tipping ability, Robertson has excellent vision and playmaking, and Hintz is the whole package as one of the fastest and purest skaters in the league.
“There’s good chemistry with that line and they’re all good with the puck. They’re very good reading off each other and we’ve said all along that when Roope gets going, he’s going to start scoring in bunches. That line feels good right now and there’s the chemistry that they had last year.”– Stars head coach Rick Bowness
For the players, they have found the trust that is crucial to having success within a line. Each player knows their role and believes that their linemates will get their job done. On top of their play on the ice, Pavelski is able to use his experience of the game to teach the two youngsters as they continue to develop.
“We had good chemistry last year so with that you have that trust, that belief,” Pavelski said. “I think it’s playing with a couple of really smart players, competitive players, as well. So, if we’re willing to work and support each other, we’re going to create a lot of those chances and it’s showing.”
While Dallas still hovers around a .500 record on the season, the emergence of their top line is a welcomed sight. Since the trio has picked up their game, others have followed their lead, finding offensive consistency throughout the lineup. That domino effect is exactly what the Stars need as they continue their work to become a more complete team on both sides of the ice.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!