New Jersey Devils: Separating Top Line Is Asking For Disaster

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

There has been some talk in New Jersey Devils land about breaking up the teams top line. Everyone knows that Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri form one of the best lines in the National Hockey League.

Everyone knows about the prowess of Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak and Colorado’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen. It is clear that the Devils top trio isn’t far off from those lines in terms of offensive production and matching up against the oppositions best players.

It has been reported that John Hynes has no intention of breaking the line apart to spread the wealth. Hall, Hischier and Palmieri have 20 points combined in the first six games. The rest of the team combined has 20 points. Math tells us that is 50% of the teams offense coming from the top line. Of course, to be a true Stanley Cup contender, you need more from lines 2-4.

Seperating Hall, Hischier and Palmieri is screaming for disaster. You can’t rely on them to spark other lines. Other lines need to step up on their own, either by being better or having more talent added to the group. Hall is able to drive offense from the wing position like a center can, a claim only about 10 wingers in the whole league can make, but this allows Hischier to play his 200 foot game the right way and Palmieri can maintain his sharp shooter mentality. That would be the definition of using a strength to address a weakness.

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It is also not a given that separating them would spread the wealth, other than Hall, you can say that Hischier and Palmieri at least for the time being, are able to play their game because of what Hall brings, and that is why the line is so dynamic. Will Palmieri be able to get that lethal shot off while at even strength if he has Pavel Zacha in the middle? Will not having Hischier in the defensive zone lower Hall’s opportunities to take won puck battles and drive offense through the neutral zone? There are many ripple effects that can come from separating a line with such chemistry.

If John Hynes eventually makes a change, it won’t be the end of the world, because all three of these players are very very good and should eventually work it out, but it may be in the best interest of the team for now to leave it as is.