On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Edmonton Oilers. When you think about these two teams, it is almost impossible not to think of some of the greats that played for both teams. When you think of the Penguins, you think of greats like Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Paul Coffey. When you think of the Oilers, you also think of players like Coffey and more like Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky.
Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Oilers are a team rebuilding and trying to get back to those glory days of the 1980s. The Penguins, on the other hand, are in the middle of a period of dominance within the Eastern Conference. This dominance is due to some excellent draft picks and key trades made throughout the last couple of seasons.
The 2013-14 season is still very young, but one thing is clear: The Penguins have the best line in the NHL.
First off, the Penguins have two excellent scoring lines. The line that is “labeled” their second line consists of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen. If this line wasn’t enough for the opposing team to worry about, then their line labeled as their first will scare them even more.
The first line of the Penguins has everything that a line needs. To center the line is the best player in the NHL, and that is Sidney Crosby. Crosby is the playmaker, the goalscorer and the example of how the rest of the line needs to play. Any team in the NHL (regardless of how much their fans would deny it) would love to start their line with this man in the middle.
The player who will retrieve pucks and crash the net with a scoring touch is winger Chris Kunitz. Kunitz has been an integral part of this Penguins’ team since being traded to them in 2009. Kunitz has had his best years in points playing alongside of Crosby and also Malkin.
The winger on Crosby’s other side was a man that no one thought would ever be a top-line winger. Pascal Dupuis a winger that can play on the first line, center the third line, and play on either the power play or the penalty kill units. Dupuis came into Pittsburgh as additional player in the Marian Hossa deal. This trade was to get a winger for Crosby and, instead of it being Hossa, it turned out to be Dupuis.
These three players have chemistry on the ice that is unmatched by anyone else in the league. Each player on this line knows their role and does whatever it takes for the line to be successful. These three players are offensively skilled in different ways and complement each other perfectly.
If there is another line in hockey that thinks they can match this top line of the Penguins, the only advice I would have for them is good luck!