When we think of That '70s Line, we think of all three players usually. Whether that third player is Tanner Pearson or Dwight King or Milan Lucic, it doesn't really matter.
It doesn't matter because Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli are just so good.
Visually, this is obvious. They dominate play. They've scored like 368% of the Kings goals so far this season. They're exciting, and the game situation doesn't really matter. You could pit them and them alone against five of the best players in the NHL and I'd still feel like they'd have a chance to create some offense.
Since the start of last season, Tyler Toffoli has played 715 of his 975 5v5 minutes alongside Jeff Carter. In that time, their numbers are staggering. They outscore their opponents at a better than 2:1 clip - 3.69 g/60 against 1.76 ga/60. They've controlled 57% of all shot attempts in this time as well.
These are good numbers. How good are they relative to the Kings, though? In this time, the Kings as a team have carried a 55.5% Corsi. They score 2.2 g/60 and allow 1.9 ga/60. That includes the whole roster, so how do they do compared to other players in the Kings' top six?
They do pretty darn well. It's hard for anyone in the league to match Anze Kopitar's ability to control the pace of play, but their ability to straight up beat their opposition is unparalleled by anyone else on the team. They also suppress opposition offense at the same rate Kopitar does at his very best.
This isn't enough for me. We have to go deeper. Imagine me telling my intern "enhance" over and over again. HOW DO THEY DO LEAGUE-WIDE?
(reminder: these numbers go back to the start of the 2014-15 season)
Their GF/GA ratio is the best in the bunch again. This doesn't consider competition or zone starts, but the usage is probably pretty similar throughout the group.
The closest comparable that Carter and Toffoli have is Tampa Bay's Triplets. Both of these combinations may have the benefit of being a secondary attack. While opposing teams spend time focusing on either Anze Kopitar or Steven Stamkos, these secondary threats have been able to feast. That may or may not be true. You'd have to ask opposing coaches why they simply can't stop Toffoli and Carter.
None of this even considers how excellent these two have been while shorthanded. Since the beginning of last season, Toffoli has the most shorthanded goals in the league. He also has the 5th-best Corsi while shorthanded (minimum 50 minutes of PK time). Jeff Carter sits at 25th. They aren't content to merely defend while shorthanded, they will push play right back in your face if you make a mistake.
We've long been on the "Toffoli is a star" train, but his play and numbers keep finding new ways to show this fact to be true. On the other hand, Jeff Carter has managed to fly under the radar a bit as a King. Originally acquired to be Mike Richards' muse, Carter quickly surpassed Richards in value and has become the 1b center the Kings have always wanted behind Kopitar's 1a. Carter is a star in his own right, and it's probably about time he receives the recognition he deserves.
The combination of Toffoli and Carter is one of the league's very best. There isn't any arguing this. They're exciting and legitimately excellent. Even if the goal totals drop off a bit due to bad luck or whatever, they'll go from The Best to Still Better Than Most Of The League.