Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

Top Lines

05/07/2020 at 9:13am EDT

from Greg Wyshynski of ESPN,

Every franchise has its endearing and enduring lines, which is why we've decided to determine the best ones for all 31 teams, currently and back in the day. As these rankings can getting a bit predictable when looking back -- "The Production Line," "The Triple Crown Line," "The French Connection" and the rest of the usual suspects -- we're limiting our "best line" search to the past 30 years, back to the 1989-90 season.

In addition, we're naming a "cult classic" line for every team during that span: a line that captured the fans' imagination, no matter how long it was together.

Detroit Red Wings

Best line: LW Slava Kozlov, C Igor Larionov, RW Sergei Fedorov

Three of the famous "Russian Five" group of former Soviet stars, along with Slava Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov. Offensively, it was like watching the hockey manifestation of a Tchaikovsky symphony in its precision and artistry. Defensively, Fedorov was a next-level forward who would win the Selke Trophy (as he did twice) while scoring over 100 points. Scotty Bowman united them in 1995 and they starred in the Wings' Stanley Cup win two years later.

Cult classic: LW Kirk Maltby, C Kris Draper, RW Darren McCarty

Putting the Grind Line here was an easy call. Figuring out which iteration of the line to honor was tougher. Draper, the tremendous shutdown center, and the agitating Maltby were the constants. The original Grind Line had celebrated goon Joe Kocur on right wing, and that trio provided backbone to the Wings team what won the 1997 Cup over the Flyers. But McCarty saw more time on the Grind Line and was a considerably better offensive player, so we'll go with Version 2.0.

Best current line: LW Anthony Mantha, C Dylan Larkin, RW Tyler Bertuzzi

Apologies for the whiplash in going from the Red Wings championship machine to the 2019-20 team, whose .275 points percentage was the third lowest in franchise history. But this trio of young standouts was a highlight, posting a 55.21 expected goals percentage together at 5-on-5.

30 more teams...

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977. No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y. Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation. There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature. Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that.

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