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A Bit of 3rd-Line Depth

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3rd line goal FTW.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
3rd line goal FTW. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Let us flash back a year, just for a quick moment.  On June 9th 2010, a certain brat named Patrick Kane scored a pathetic goal in overtime, and the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961.  As we all watched their series against the Flyers, we all couldn't help but notice how much of an impact their bottom lines were having in their success.  We all saw how we would need to replicate that depth if we wanted to get our own Cup.

So, cue Mike Gillis.  Over the summer he signed Raffi Torres, a human bulldozer who can give out hits like nobody's business.  At the trade deadline he acquired Maxim Lapierre, a Quebecer pest (much like the old version of Alexandre Burrows) who had been to the Conference Finals with the Canadiens the year before.  AV sets these two up on the 3rd line with Jannik Hansen, the speedy squeaker who had worked his way up from the bottom of the draft to Vancouver's official "unsung hero".

Then came the playoffs.  Demons were conquered in the first round, as we eliminated our Chicago rivals.  In the 2nd round, Ryan Kesler led the way against Pekka Rinne and the Predators.  In the 3rd round, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin were finally able to contribute, and they made the difference against the Sharks.  Now, in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins are causing trouble.  They are shutting down Kesler and the twins almost completely.  In the past, we have seen the Canucks be eliminated when our top 2 lines get shut down.  So, with it happening again, how the heck are we now only 1 win away from the Cup?


In comes our 3rd line.  These 3 guys have each scored once so far in this series, and this accounts for half of the goals the Canucks have had on TIm Thomas.  The 7 points between Raffi, Max and Jannik are more than any other Canuck line so far against the Bruins, with 5 points between Burr and Dank being 2nd-closest.  What's more impressive is the timing of these goals: Raffi and Maxim both got game-winners in the 1-0 final scores of Games 1 and 5, while Jannik Hansen was able to at least get the Canucks on the board during that 8-1 slaughter in Game 3.  And let's not forget all of Raffi's hits, Maxim's pestering of the Bruins players, and Jannik constantly speeding past their D.

Last year, we were shown by Chicago how important it was to have depth on the bottom lines.  This year, we are finding how true this is.  With Boston having their best defenders focusing on our top 2 lines, our 3rd line is getting a bit more leeway.  Sure, they may be the checking line, but they are also getting our goals when they're needed.   I think this could turn out to be the difference we needed to finally achieve what no other Canuck team has been able to do in the past.  And it also wouldn't surprise me one bit if one of these 3 guys scored a game-winner next week.

Now, back to our regularily scheduled links: