Joe Thornton: Good hockey player.
Joe Pavelski: Good hockey player.
Third Dude On Line With Them: Well, he looks good, anyway.
Joonas Donskoi will get the chance to show off his skills on the top line with the Joes in the Sharks preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes tonight. My guess? The Joes will make him look pretty damn good.
That's oversimplifying things, of course, but putting two of the Sharks best players on the same line lessens the importance of the third player. The Joes have shown the ability to carry a line all by themselves, allowing a third player to be slotted in and play with the kind of freedom he's not going to get on any other San Jose line.
How dominant are Thornton and Pavelski when playing together? Their WOWY (with or without you) numbers paint a clear picture over the past three seasons. I looked at their time together starting in the lockout season and continuing to the end of last season.
So, to parse this out, when they play together the Sharks score 60.6 percent of the goals and take 59.9 percent of the shot attempts. Yes, that's very, very good. These numbers are 5v5 by the way, so this doesn't even include their dominance on the power play.
Taking it a step further, let's look at the numbers of the two guys the Joes have played with the most the past three years: Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns. This gets a little tricky since Burns has obviously played both as a forward and as a defenseman...so, bare with me.
As you can see here, Burns without the Joes? Quite good. The Sharks control 52.5 percent of the shot attempts when he's on the ice. When you put him with the Joes? That number skyrockets up to 60.9 percent — they also score 65.8 percent of the goals, which is astounding. Now let's take a look at Hert'ls numbers.
You see another jump here. From 53.5 percent of shot attempts taken to 59.2 percent. The goals-for percentage goes up from 52 to 59.1 percent.
This isn't meant to put a damper on Hertl or Burns, both of whom are good hockey players. I just want to illustrate what a positive impact the Joes can have on their linemates.
None of this should be ground-breaking to anyone who has watched the Sharks the past few years, but with Donskoi slated to play with the Joes tonight it's worth re-iterating: These guys are good and are going to make Donskoi look good, too. I'm not saying anyone would look good playing with Thornton and Pavelski, just that any hockey player would.