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St. Louis Blues offensive line combinations

War-on-Ice is set to fade soon but have no fear! A new site, Corsica.Hockey, has appeared and it has some neat features like line combinations for us to explore.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

War on Ice has always been clear from the beginning that besides just providing enhanced hockey stats and serving as a hub for hockey research, they wanted to provide this as open source and encourage other people to copy them.  They were attempting to prevent another "Extra Skater" from happening.  So when War on Ice announced that they were going to stop administering their site as of the end of March, they left behind all the tools one could need to create their own hockey stats database and, in theory, website.

Emmanuel Perry took up the challenge and the new site Corsica.Hockey was born.  Not only does it fill the gap that War on Ice was going to leave, but it also added a few new features that I have been wanting but have yet to create myself.  One of those features is a similarity calculator.  You enter a player and it will show you which players are similar to the player you chose.  Great for trade deadline and free agency in the summer.  He also added a line combination and line pairing feature.  You choose a team and it will show all the various offensive line combinations and their associated stats for that team.  You can also search for defensive pairings and retrieve the same information as well.  Very useful.

Hitch has been notorious for his line blenders.  However, things looked different at the beginning of the season.  Lines were consistent game to game. The team was playing great hockey.  Almost everyone was healthy.  But then the injuries started and then the call-ups and the line blender was pulled out from the closet, plugged in and fired up.

Things are getting back to normal now, and lines seem to be relatively consistent again.  The team is almost 100% healthy (knock on wood).  With the final push for the playoffs underway we can take a look at the line combinations throughout this season and see which lines had the most success and figure out which players might have been a drag on their teammates.

I left the default value on David Backes because he seems to have gotten the raw end of the blender this season.  He has frequently been third line center and paired with players who, to be gracious, are not quite the caliber of Alexander Steen or T.J. Oshie.  He has spent most of his 5v5 time with Steen and Troy Brouwer so far this season.  Unfortunately, this line combination has not been good for Backes.  This line combo's corsi for, shots for are not only under 50% but they also under perform Backes' individual numbers for those same two stats (represented by the long gray reference line).  Goals for for this line is right at 50% and still below Backes' individual performance.  I hate to say this (and I mean that sincerely) but I have a feeling Brouwer is the weak link on that line.  When he is paired with Backes and Steen, it is one of his best lines.  While Backes and Steen with Brouwer is one of their weaker combinations.  One of Backes' better lines is when he is paired with Patrik Berglund and Magnus Paajarvi.  They have spent roughly 60 minutes of 5v5 together and have over 50% in both corsi and shots for.  However, and this is a big however, they are well under 50% in goals for.  Generating lots of chances, but unable to finish.  I'm sure this will make the Berglund and Paajarvi haters feel vindicated.  The best line for Backes has been when he was grouped with Berglund and Dmitri Jaskin.  Not only do they have over 50% in all three stats, but they also have some of the best per 60 rates out of all of Backes' combos.  Unfortunately they have also seen the fewest amount of time together.  Could this success just be a fluke?  Considering there are 48 minutes of 5v5 ice time per NHL game, this line has seen roughly an entire game of 5v5 to date.  I would like to see more of this line, and sure enough, line ups from yesterday confirm that Backes, Berglund, and Jaskin on third line tonight.

Let me know what you think about this tool I put together to explore the Blues' line combinations.  If you all enjoy this, I can put together something similar for defensive pairings as well.  One note on how to use the dataviz below, you can click on a line combination in the top chart to highlight them in the scatterplots at the bottom (or vice versa).