1st Line: Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
By now it’s no secret that the first line is set with plenty of veteran presence flanking Taylor Hall at centre. Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth are getting a great opportunity to rejuvenate their career by playing top line minutes with Hall. All they have to do now is produce and they’ll remain together at least until Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returns, possibly until December when Sam Gagner comes back to the lineup.
They have the perfect mix of speed, skill and grit. Hall and Smyth can battle the corners and the front of the net while Hemsky can create scoring plays and dish the puck to his linemates. They compliment each other well and the only concern would be Smyth’s foot speed and whether he can keep up to the other two. So far he’s been able to pass the test but when the regular season kicks off the pace will quicken and the real test begins.
During the pre-season this line hasn’t been overly dominant but have still put up reasonable numbers. Despite not scoring a goal in four games, Hemsky has added 4 assists. Hall has scored twice in four games but not added any assists. Smyth has a pair of goals to go with one helper in four games. All in all, a reasonable amount of production from the designated top line and keep in mind Hall is still learning the centre position. As time goes by and he becomes more comfortable up the middle, this line could start firing on all cylinders and then look out.
Perhaps the most promising statistic is that all three players were a positive when it comes to the plus/minus rating, combining for a plus-10 this pre-season. If they can keep the puck out of their own net that will be a bonus because we know this team will score it’s fair share of goals.