Metrics: Even Strength Dump In Attempts, Even Strength Loose Puck Recoveries, Even Strength Successful Forechecking Plays
Speaking from experience, one of the most challenging roles in hockey is that of a 4th line player. There are so many situations that can leave you stapled to the bench. (Penalty trouble, trailing on the scoreboard, etc..) Then in a split second, you get a tap on the shoulder and you’re back on the ice with a cold set of hands and legs trying to make something happen.
It was an all-around dominant performance from Vegas last night but in my opinion, the line that stood out the most was that of Ryan Reaves, William Carrier, and Chandler Stephenson. The Golden Knights showed us a couple of years ago that it takes rolling 4 solid lines to get to the Stanley Cup Finals and even under a new head coach, it seems they’ve kept that philosophy.
It’s rare to see a 4th line impact a game the way Reaves, Carrier, and Stephenson did last night. Their game plan was simple; suffocate Vancouver’s d-men with a relentless forecheck and they did just that. The Vegas 4th line led all lines on the team with 9 Even Strength Offensive Zone Dump In Attempts and tied for 1st with 6 Even Strength Succesful Forechecking Plays. By establishing this O-Zone pressure it completely eliminated any offense coming from the Canucks’ back end and practically erased superstar Quinn Hughes from the game. But don’t just take my word for it, here’s a look at how my colleague and NHL Network Analyst, Mike Kelly, explains the importance of a solid forecheck from the Dallas - Calgary series.
Reaves, Carrier, and Stephenson earned the trust of their coach, Peter DeBoer, last night. After every goal, powerplay, and penalty kill, the Canucks were greeted with Vegas’ 4th line. The sight of those three players jumping over the boards was probably the last thing you wanted to see if you were wearing a white jersey. The line was constantly first on the puck as they led Vegas forward lines with a combined 37 Even Strength Loose Puck Recoveries and showed no signs of easing up as they accounted for 22 of the team’s 57 hits.
Fourth liners don’t get much recognition throughout the regular season however when Playoffs come around, they’re the spark that can ignite a promising Stanley Cup run. The Golden Knights know they can turn to Reaves, Carrier, and Stephenson in any situation to bring the energy and that’s why they’ve earned my selection for last night’s Sportlogiq Standouts.
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