As we continue to look back at the best and worst of the past decade, let's consider the top forward lines of the past 10 years. It's not often any more that a team will stick with consistent lines over a period of time, but there are a few notable entries to be found. For the most part, I tried to avoid great duos who were mixed with interchangeable parts, unless the played with one player for at least one season (Crosby/Malkin, Sedins, etc.). The top 6 entries on my list are solid actual lines.
10. Backstrom / Ovechkin / Semin
OK, so I may be breaking my own rule with the first entry, as these guys don't always line up together. That' mostly because of the many injuries to Semin. Anytime these powerhouses are united, it's an unstoppable force (except against the Pens in the playoffs). If these guys can stay healthy, we may see this line show up again next decade on the top 10.
9. Datsyuk / Zetterberg / Holmstrom
Over the past couple of years, the line comes and goes, but when the game is on the line, the Redwings have regularly paired these three together. They're money on offense or as a shutdown line. Holmstrom provides the traffic, the other two control the puck. Hard to defend and just as hard to score against.
8. Thornton / Cheechoo / Pavelski
It can be argued that Pavelski was along for the ride, as several others have been with Thornton and Cheechoo, but for at least one full season, Pavelski filled the spot and the line was magic. Cheechoo obviously hasn't shown anywhere near the scoring prowess that he demonstrated along big Joe. And as good as Thornton is at making his teammates look better, he has yet to match the work he did with Cheechoo and Pavelski.
7. Kovalchuk / Savard / Hossa
Often times over the past decade, Kovalchuk was left to fend for himself in Atlanta, but for a time, he had the opportunity to be matched up with equal talent in the form of Marc Savard and Marian Hossa. Had this line persisted, Kovalchuk would have been in the running for player of the decade.
6. Lecavalier / St. Louis / Prospal
The original 2004 version of this line led the Bolts to regularly season domination, and a Stanley Cup parade. It even enabled St. Louis to finish 1st in scoring and win the Hart Trophy. They tried to bring back the magic a few years later, but the line just didn’t click the way it had the first time around.
5. Forsberg / Hejduk / Tanguay
One of the best 2nd lines of all time. Assuming, of course, you consider Sakic & Drury's line the #1. Either way, it's hard to argue against this threesome's chemistry and dominance for the early half of the decade. A huge reason for Colorado's 2nd Cup victory.
4. Getzlaf / Perry / Ryan
When Getzlaf and Perry came in, they were matched up with Penner to form a great 2nd line on the way to their Cup victory. After Penner left and Ryan joined the big leagues, this line became the #1 in Anaheim and perhaps the best combination in the league today. All three can score and it's impossible to pick one of the three to focus in on. Anything good happening in Anaheim these days is coming from this line.
3. Bertuzzi / Naslund / Morrison
For years, this line was unstoppable. The only thing that managed to end their reign of terror was the infamous Bertuzzi incident. None of these players were the same after that. It's hard to remember a line so dominant that left all three players to such a quick decline after being disassembled.
2. Yzerman / Hull / Shanahan
Really, you could pull names out of a hat from the 2002 Redwings lineup and you'd have an unbeatable line. This one stuck for a while and featured 3 of the best players of all time. Legendary.
1. Alfreddson / Spezza / Heatley
This line earns the number one spot because they were so good for a long time. Aside from Alfreddson's injury problems, these three were almost always on the ice together and led the team to the finals in 2007. Since Heatley's departure, Spezza and Alfreddson look like shadows of their former selves. While it lasted, it was the best line of the decade.