Editorial note: The following was posted by NM member Tengeresz in the comments section of a previous post. It was well thought-out and made me weep so I decided to copy / paste it into a post to give it further exposure. Well done, sir!
I'm not sure about how we should number forward lines around here
It’s interesting to note the progression to a "1,3,3,4" narrative around here from the "1,2,2,3" narrative this time last year, and the "1a, 1b, 2a, 2b" some of our more enthusiastic commenters seemed to be talking about not too long ago.
Fact is: there are always, and only, enough players to put out four lines. What you call them is not really important, how they get used is.
A "Top Line" will see about 18-20 minutes a night. Usually in a scoring role.
That is the Sedins, plus almost certainly Vrbata, although they may well be used in all situations due to their elite puck possession being an effective defence against other teams top line.
A "Second Line will see more than 15 minutes a night, the fashion now as a shut down line that can counter attack, but could also be in a pure scoring line against weaker opposition.
That sounds to me like Burrows & Bonino, with Kassian/Jensen/Higgins depending on the role WD wants them to play. AMFB is the complete package and can be a triggerman or shut down guy, Bones has already been slated for the "Second" line, and both Kass and Jensen project to 2nd line. HIggy plays up and down the lineup very well, (Higgy and Kass are safer bets as they are already proven NHL players).
A "Third" line is going to see about 10-15 min a game, not give up bad goals, and wear down the other team’s secondary players while our top two lines catch their breaths. Sometimes called an "Energy" line. The Canucks are stacked at players that can do more than that. It could be that they earn more time according to their play on a game by game basis, relieving the pressure on the top two lines.
Which brings us to GMJB’s latest good signing, potential 3LC: Linden Vey..
If our "Third line" is Higgins, Vey, Hansen/Kassian/(or hot young prospect / UFA that impresses at camp a la Santorelli) then they can play MORE than 10 minutes a night, and do it in more situations, against better competition, with more scoring potential. I think it’s reasonable to hope for 15 minutes or so in defensive, or somewhat sheltered offensive, situations.
This is where you may say "2b" and even qualify it as "On a weaker team" because the Canucks are certainly lower half of the league from last year.
I wouldn’t go TOO far about the "Weaker team" thing because I think they will get at least SOME bounce back with WD and hungry new talent this year — not to mention relief from last season’s horrible puck luck; injuries; and (don’t fight me on this one Z man!) the Torts tough love "System" crashing and burning worse than the Hindenberg.
A prototypical "Fourth" line player is usually given about 5 minutes a night, (maximum 10 minutes) includes the type called face-puncher/enforcer and at least one spare part for the other lines or special teams. Some times even a seventh D man takes a spot when the coach doesn’t feel like there are better options during the regular season. The "Fourth" line may actually not play much together as a line, but the players can be used to fill in other lines or specialty team 2nd units.
Although their finish or proven NHL reliability may be questionable, all the options I see for the so-called "Fourth" line could be better than that. Richardson, Matthias, Dorsett, Lain, Gaunce, even Archibald are certainly ready for more than 5 minutes a night 60+ games a year, and many could start edging up into "Third line" minutes. Add in a few 9 game teasers from our plethora of recent top picks and there’s a lot in the mix there.
If Willy D can get over 15 minutes a night out of his "Middle six" and 10 minutes a night from his "Fourth line" then the "Top line" only has to play…
(takes of shoes, counts on fingers, toes, friends toes, beers in a case)
… less than 20 minutes a night. None on the PK.
That sounds about right to me.
Sure, this narrative has everyone lumped into a "middle six" role rather than having an elite 2nd line, but that’s a normal NHL team these days. Having a Patrice Bergeron eating minutes against all the top players in the league, with a sniper on his wing that can also counter-attack is a fine objective, but it’s much easier to demand that on a blog comment than make it actually happen with a real NHL team.
Don’t forget that all the hand-wringing about having "NO 2ND LINE CENTRE" is because we have been spoiled by having our dearly departed "Super star" Selke winning "2nd" line centre, who was the top line centre for his country in the Olympics, and possibly the most sought after (or at least talked-after) trade-bait in the last six months. Where did he come from? Oh, yeah, drafted by THIS team late in the first round, developed at a reasonable pace in Junior and AHL, and then brought along as a "3rd line energy/PK" guy.
IMHO, the cupboard is not bare, the sky is not falling, the team is fairly well constructed, and the Canucks will make the playoffs. They might even get out of the first round.
There are some areas with great potential. Guarantees? Not many but, possibilities? Plenty of exciting players and combinations.
Between the lockout and the boring, losing, style of play last year I had been getting less and less interested in watching games. I was often more interested in Game of Thrones, even though I’d read the books and knew the plot in advance. That’s the most damning thing anyone can say about an entrainment product like professional sports, where the suspense of an uncertain outcome is a major attraction. With the new management team, and some interesting new players I can’t wait to see the prospects in the pre-season and I believe there’s rational hope for the Canucks to climb into the top 1/3 of the league. I’ll be planning my weeknights around watching games again.
Heck, I’m even thinking of ending my one-man two-year boycott and buying a jersey. Not an official one for me, a cheap version for my rapidly growing son — but that’s a start.
Ed note: At Tengeresz's request, this post has been brought to you by Maclean and Mclean (language NSFW, naturally!):
Well looky here, Tanbir Rana cannot even contain himself!
Change Is Coming Benning Hit The Reset Button, or Benning Wrecked That Shiz.