Horcoff - Penner - Hemsky
There has been much conversation over the past year regarding this line. Derek Zona has shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when they played together at even strength last season they got terrific results to go along with terrific underlying numbers.
So if you had any of these three guys in your hockey pool, you were justified in screaming at your telelvision whenever MacTavish broke up the line, which was most of the time. That's been established, I think.
The question is, how much were the other lines hurt by having most of the forward talent on one line? More specifically, we want to know the effect on the team as a whole.
To do this I wrote a script to go through the NHL.com time on ice sheets and find the games that Penner played most of his EV icetime with Horcoff and Hemsky. If that happened, the game's EV tied-score data was dumped into bin #1. If that didn't happen, and both Hemsky and Horcoff played in the game ... then the game's EV tied-score data was dumped into bin #2.
THE OILER TEAM RESULT:
In the games with Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky as the top unit:
48.5% of the EV tied-score shots were owned by the Oilers.
48.9% of the EV scoring chances were owned by the Oilers.
In other games (83 and 10 both on the game roster):
48.0% of the EV tied-score shots were owned by the Oilers.
47.7% of the EV scoring chances were owned by the Oilers.
So MacTavish's decision to keep Penner off the top unit, probably due in part due to his personal distaste for Dustin, seems to have had a small detrimental effect on the play of the team as a whole. Not a hell of a lot, but more than I was expecting. And, going by some of the commentary that I have read on the subject, considerably less than a lot of Oiler fans were expecting I'm sure.
With the top line loaded up or not, this was just a slightly below average skating team at even strength last year. Shuffling players around the lineup in different ways only accomplishes so much.
UPDATE: I've added scoring chances as well and, following RiversQ's comment, it appears that we should expect shift in scoring chance percentage of greater than 1.1% (the amount that happened) about 6 times in 10 by chance alone. So the the impact on the team of playing Horcoff-Penner-Hemsky as a line is so small, in terms of scoring chances, that we can't see it through the noise. It may have even had a neagtive effect on the team's chances of winning.