Among all of the different line combinations Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy has used this season, it seems that he’s finally found his favorite. The line consisting of Gabriel Landeskog on the left, Carl Soderberg in the middle and Blake Comeau on the right has proven consistently that it has a lot to offer, and apparently, it has now acquired the role of a first line.
As the rest of the lineup continues to be scrambled in hopes of sparking playoff-level play, one line has remained consistently together for quite some time now. The Landeskog-Soderberg-Comeau combination is finding a way to score while the Avalanche, as a whole, are not.
Since the All-Star break, the Avalanche have struggled to generate goals, scoring just 15 times in seven games and going 2-4-1 in the process. Of those 15 goals, the Landy-Soderberg-Comeau line is responsible for seven of them. Averaging around 18 minutes a game, this combination prides itself on its strength and grit to play both a tough to beat defensive game and an aggressive attack-the-net style offensively. The offensive success they have had together has earned them an elevated level of responsibility worthy of a true first line.
A testament to the new first line’s heightened role is the amount of time each of the three members have received on the special teams. Due to their defensive dependability and discipline, Comeau and Soderberg have seen a lot of time on the first penalty kill unit. On the power play, we see two members of this line, Landeskog and Comeau, receiving first-unit power-play minutes lately, while the third member, Carl Soderberg, finds time on the second unit.
A true first line is something that hasn’t really existed much this year for the Avalanche. For a while there was some resemblance of a first line with the Landeskog-MacKinnon-Duchene combination, but that only lasted a handful of games before its point production had completely fallen off and the trio was broken up. Aside from that line, the rest of the season has been a series of games with different line combinations in search of one that was strong and consistent in all areas of the ice.
Their tough presence in the defensive end combined with their ability to make things happen offensively has made it impossible for coach Roy to disassemble the Landeskog-Soderberg-Comeau combination. Their ability to play on both ends of the ice, with the aggressive style that they do, is something any NHL coach would love to have in their first line. Finding the right combinations for the other three lines seems to be Roy’s biggest headache at this point, but for now, he can finally say that the Avalanche have a reliable, consistent first line.
The Avalanche face a more relaxed upcoming schedule than what they have been used to seeing this season, playing five games in the next ten days before meeting the Red Wings in the Coors Light Outdoor Series on February 27. At 62 points, the Avalanche continue to teeter-totter between the first and second Wild Card spots in the Western Conference with the Nashville Predators. The Avalanche are separated by a four-point cushion between them and the nearest Wild-Card hopeful team. Eleven points separates the Avalanche from the third spot in the Central Division. Colorado has 23 games remaining on their schedule, twelve home games and eleven on the road.