This is part two of 20 in 20, where we examine 20 possible line combinations for the upcoming season over a span of twenty days. Check out part one here, where I describe in greater detail what this series is all about.
The actual number of possible combinations and permutations is virtually infinite, especially considering there are players that may or may not make the team out of camp. By my rough estimation, there is over 400 million ways to construct a lineup combination, so when we examine only 20 scenarios, there are still plenty of stones left un-turned.
For this reason, I will be focusing each part of the series about a specific piece of the lineup. Today’s combinations will focus on the second line and give two alternate scenarios instead of having Little resume his place as the second line centre.
SCENARIO THREE: Wheeler Moves Back To Centre
Connor – Wheeler – Laine
Roslovic – Scheifele – Petan
Ehlers – Little – Perreault
Tanev – Lowry – Copp
Fun Factor: 5/10
This combination is very intriguing. It separates the biggest play drivers onto three separate lines which gives a very balanced attack. Remember that when Scheifele went down with injury last season Wheeler stepped to the middle of the ice and the top line didn’t miss a beat. Take, for instance, this beautiful goal scored by Connor that was assisted by Wheeler a few games after Scheifele got injured.
#NHLJets fourth goal and WHAT A BEAUTY IT IS!!
Kyle Connor dances in and goes ROOF! pic.twitter.com/GfGKCUWP1i
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) January 10, 2018
The top line with Connor, Wheeler, and Laine had good results in their limited time together as they scored nine goals while only allowing three during 5 on 5 play. This might be slightly misleading though as the line finished below 50% in both CF% and xGF%
The second line of Roslovic, Scheifele, Petan would be a joy to watch as all three of them are extremely fast and skilled with the puck. They would be a nightmare off the rush for opposing teams but they might struggle in their own end.
The downside with this combination is that it puts lots of pressure on Wheeler and Scheifele to play defensively. This might cause their point totals to decrease as they would have extra responsibility playing with younger teammates.
SCENARIO FOUR: Petan Finally Gets His Shot
Connor – Scheifele – Wheeler
Ehlers – Petan – Laine
Perreault – Little – Roslovic
Tanev – Lowry – Copp
Fun Factor: 8/10
It’s no secret that many Jets fans think Petan has been misused through his first few seasons. He has only played with grinders in his short time in the NHL and hasn’t been given the opportunity to flourish. In this scenario, Petan would finally get his chance to play with superior linemates.
It could be argued that Ehlers, Petan, and Laine wouldn’t be great together. They might have a tough time getting the puck out of their own end as none of the three players are known for their defensive ability. But, imagine for a second what this line would do once they got the puck. It would be full speed ahead with tons of odd-man rushes and high event hockey. It would be flat out fun.
If there is any trio that could thrive in a high event style, it would be these three. All of them are capable of passing and scoring and they would most likely convert their chances at a higher rate than their opposition given their extreme talent and skill.
Unfortunately, this line will most likely never be given an opportunity to play together, at least not in the next few years. Maurice would be able to shelter them considering the other three lines would be strong, but it seems like a waste to have Ehlers and Laine losing minutes because they are playing on a young line that isn’t trusted by the coaching staff.
There you have it, the two scenarios without Bryan Little as the second line centre. There might be more of them down the road, but in the meantime, let me know what you think! Who would you have the second line centre? Chime in on Twitter and your combination might get featured in a future post.