Behind the Numbers is a weekly series where NHL.com examines both player and team trends with an emphasis being placed on advanced statistics. This week we look at the statistics behind what makes the Colorado Avalanche top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog the best in the League.
MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen have combined for 120 points (46 goals, 74 assists) in 28 games this season. Their line has accounted for 43 percent of the Avalanche's total points (278). For comparison, the Calgary Flames first line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm has combined for 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 28 games, which is 36 percent of their total team points (269). It's worth noting the Boston Bruins first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak likely would be in the conversation for most productive line this season (80 points), but Bergeron has missed eight games with injuries and is expected to be out at least until late December.
When it comes to team goals where each player records a point, MacKinnon and Rantanen have been in on 36, which ranks first in the NHL. Landeskog and Rantanen have been in on 23, which ranks second in the League. The last time a top line finished first and second in point pair team goals was in 1997-98, when Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins were in on 64 goals and Stu Barnes and Jagr were in on 38.
Video: COL@LAK: MacKinnon strikes quickly on power play
To put in perspective how dominant the Avalanche top line has been in this category this season, the Gaudreau-Monahan pair is tied for third with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel of the Penguins with 22, but Kessel and Malkin have recently been separated at even strength.
The Avalanche have the best power play in the NHL (32.2 percent) entering Wednesday. MacKinnon and Rantanen rank first in the NHL with a combined point on 12 team goals. The pair of Landeskog and Rantanen (as well as Landeskog and MacKinnon) is tied for third with eight. If the Avalanche power play continues to produce at its current rate, the three forwards likely will finish among the best in power-play point pairs. Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle of the Florida Panthers are tied with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning for second in team power-play goals (nine), where each player records a point.
With continued success at even strength and special teams, the Avalanche top line of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog could go down as one of the best in the modern era.
When looked at individually, Rantanen is on pace to lead the NHL in scoring with 135 points (32 goals, 103 assists) in 82 games. MacKinnon is on pace to finish second with 126 points (56 goals, 70 assists). Landeskog is on pace to finish tied for 24th with 91 points (47 goals, 44 assists).
Though it's unlikely Rantanen will continue to produce at this pace, it's a conservative prediction that he, MacKinnon and Landeskog each will set his NHL career high this season; MacKinnon had 97 points (39 goals, 58 assists) in 74 games last season; Rantanen had 84 points (29 goals, 55 assists) in 81 games last season; and Landeskog had 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 81 games in 2013-14.