Since the days of Ortmeyer-D. Moore-Hollweg, the Rangers fourth line has been virtually non-existent. It seemed at times under John Tortorella that he was only playing his bottom three forwards because rolling three lines would have worn his team down more than he already was.
Tortorella used the fourth line as punishment for his own players instead of an effective tool to defeat his opponents.
And who could blame him. Previous fourth lines have included players such as Arron Asham, Jeff Halpern, Darroll Powe, Kris Newbury, Derek Boogaard, Dale Weise, Donald Brashear and Dane Byers.
Fortunately for the Rangers, it looks like the fourth line has come full circle as, led by the same Dominic Moore, they’ve become one of the team’s most consistent lines, while providing a lift when needed as well as timely scoring. And Alain Vigneault has done a masterful job of using their strengths to either shift momentum of a game or make a big defensive stand.
Here’s Alain Vigneault on what makes his fourth line so good (via ESPN.com)…
“They are simple and they compete. That fourth line is big, grinding, you know, wear-the-opposition type line, and when they find ways to contribute, like they have the last couple of games offensively, it makes our team that much better, as far as winning hockey games.”
D. Moore added this on rolling four lines…
“You have to have that,” said Moore, who also won six of seven faceoffs Wednesday. “You can’t win without that. You see every game every night –- it’s usually one-goal games. [Wednesday] wasn’t the case, but everyone has to chip in and everyone has to be firing on all cylinders.”
…this line really came together after the Carcillo trade. He had instant chemistry with Boyle and Moore. And AV’s confidence in the line has allowed them to grow into their roles, whether it’s winning a big face-off, applying a tough forecheck or controlling puck possession. A true sign of this line’s character is that they haven’t missed a beat since Dorsett returned from injury and looks to have replaced Carcillo on the wing.
…i feel comfortable saying that, along with Lundqvist & McDonagh, the fourth line has had a major impact on the Rangers current five-game winning streak. Which on its own merit is an amazing feat, but what it’s also done is help take some pressure off St. Louis while he continues to struggle to get on the score sheet during his adjustment period.
…as the Rangers have learned in past playoff failures under Tortorella, a useful fourth line can be the difference in a series. Not only can they provide the top three lines with some much needed in-game rest, they have the ability to turn a game or even a series with a big hit, timely goal or even a spirited shift against an opponent’s top line. I feel very confident that this group, especially if the Rangers find themselves matched up against the Bruins or Flyers, can have that kind of impact in the postseason.