Hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is ESPN Insider's armchair GM this season, exploring how modern statistics can inform front-office decisions.
Success in the Stanley Cup playoffs often boils down to getting the right players in the right situations at the right time. That's why coaches have to adapt quickly to injuries, hot streaks and various other changing circumstances, and be prepared to make off-the-board lineup decisions on the fly. What are some of the most notable moves this time around, and how have they paid off?
There are some standard lineup changes that teams commonly make in the playoffs -- like shortening the bench, and leaning more heavily on the safer and more disciplined two-way players -- but some other decisions are a lot more unexpected. Today's new non-traditional statistics can be used to identify those choices, by finding players who are being used more or less in certain manpower situations, or being deployed in different zones, with different linemates and/or against different opponents. These new metrics can also help determine the impact these lineup changes may have had.
As such, five of the more prominent lineup changes among the eight remaining playoff teams were selected for further examination. Specifically, the list includes New York's new breakout line, the most effective of the recent top-line promotions, the most surprising scratch, one coach's inspiring faith in his rookies, and the most interesting of Chicago's many lineup machinations.