THe Bottom Line on the 4th Line

Jason Strudwick
December 02 2013 10:04AM

Last week I posted this tweet on twitter:

"Note to Oilers fan....Worrying about the 4th line is like wondering if you left the toiler seat up while your house is burning down.
I am amazed at how much time we the media and fans spend discussing the Oilers fourth line. It actually baffles me! Why waste your time? In my opinion the fourth line for the Oilers has been pretty good most nights."

I have a lot of time for the guys on the fourth line and fifth, six and seventh d-man so this doesn't come from a place of not respecting them. If anything, I have more respect than anyone because I know exactly how they feel when they contribute to a win, and how frustrating it can be to sit out when you have not played badly and the coach just "wants a different look".

But Oilers fans it is time to get focused on what is really going on and why this team is struggling.

In every single NHL game there is 60 mins of ice time for the left winger, the right winger and the center. Add that all up and you have 180 mins of total forward ice time to be distributed amongst four lines or twelve forwards. I would say on average, most teams fourth lines average around eight to ten minutes of ice time. Adding that up we get thirty minutes of total ice time by the three players on the fourth line. That comes out to sixteen percent of the total ice time available (180mins). 16%!!!!!

For the Oilers this year, some nights, Eakins has used them closer to five minutes each. So that percentage drops down to 8%.  You get the idea of how much total ice time we are talking about here. Not a lot. Why spend so much time dissecting and analyzing a fourth line that gets so little ice time? I don't get it.

If the Oilers were near or at the top of the league I would be loving fourth line combination conversations. Who could the Oilers bring in to be the final element to the team? Do they need another penalty killer on the fourth line? Should they find a guy that can chip in ugly goals? It would make sense in a last piece of the puzzle scenario. Unfortunately the Oilers are near the bottom of the league in wins. Do you really think that the fourth line is holding this team back? Would the greatest fourth line in history make this group a playoff team?

Nope. It wouldn't. Sorry to be the bad guy.

When I look at this team there are other issues that are more pressing. Being able to play in heavy games that will require adjustment in personnel, consistency of effort and execution and attention to detail every shift are miles ahead of the fourth line even entering my thoughts. MILES AHEAD!

Those topics should be on the minds of concerned Oilers fans as well.  But since I am talking about the fourth line I will tell you what I would want if I was a coach and what I hated playing against. To start, any kind of goal production from a fourth line should be considered a bonus not a must. Goals should be a by-product of everything a fourth line does.

I hated playing against a fourth line that had attitude and was proud to be the fourth line. When I would see them jump over the boards and foaming at the mouth I knew it would be a long night.

My ideal fourth line plays balls out every shift, every night and does it with reckless abandon. They never stop moving their feet while getting in on the forecheck and finish checks. They cycle pucks in the offensive zone and have sustained pressure there. All three players crash the net like it is the most important thing in their lives. They create chaos all over the ice and do it with a smile on their faces.

When they get back to the bench the rest of the team is loving it and can't wait to get out there to follow up all that energy they brought to the team in the last forty seconds. I would also prefer to have two members of the line be able to kill penalties and do it well. This serves two purposes: keeps them in the game and trims minutes off the top nine.

I know lines like this exist because I played against many teams that had them and on teams with them. One of the best I ever got to play with was Colton Orr, Blair Betts and Ryan Hollweg. I loved being on the ice with these three. I knew they would be flying around making action happen and most importantly the other team knew that chaos was about to break loose. Our team loved that line.

They would chip in with the odd goal and the boys would love it! We would all get fired up. But they didn't score every night, what they did do was be a difference in the game, a positive influence on the energy and out come of the game because of their style.
If I was coaching I would like to have a fourth line like that. One that you noticed and knew you could count on to have an impact on the game.

With some of the personnel the Oilers have with Jones, Arco, Gadzic and Acton there are the makings of something. The challenge for these guys is to bring it every night. Bring the passion, jump and chaos that will have a positive impact for the Oilers every single game.

I hope that in the near future discussions about the fourth line are needed to address the last piece of a successful team. Until then, I will limit my talk about it to somewhere around 8% to 16% a night.

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 02 2013, 10:18AM
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"Would the greatest fourth line in history make this group a playoff team?

Nope. It wouldn't. Sorry to be the bad guy."

This is a straw man, though, right. You realize that. You must.

No one thinks that if you replace EDM's 4th line with CHI's or DET's or SJS or whatever makes this a playoff team.

No one.

"When I look at this team there are other issues that are more pressing."

But who saying that the 4th could and should be a lot better is also silent on the question of upgrading D, C, G, the 3rd line, the top lines, everything?!

No one.

The difference with the 4th line is there are internal options that provide a dramatic improvement to the team right now.

Again, not a playoff team. But better. Now. For nothing.

That is why it is a relevant topic of conversation.

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#2 Stompinstoms
December 02 2013, 10:32AM
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I have to agree with Romulus. It's a relevant topic because we could be better if we used our tools properly.

I'm happy with the fourth line these days because Eakins is finally dressing the best three forwards for the job - Joensuu, Arco, and Jones. They're capable of playing the 8-10 minutes, or 16%, as you state in your article.

Eakins can only justify playing the Acton/Gazdic duo for 5 minutes a night because they're not NHL hockey players. Never have been, never will be. You can make an argument for Gazdic because he fights and won't back down from a challenge. But why is Acton there?

*cough*nepotism*cough*

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#3 Jason
December 02 2013, 10:16AM
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100% bang on as usual Struds.

My biggest issue is the lack of effort at any given time. While the Dallas win was nice, all it does is teach them it's o.k. to "not show up" for 40 mins and still win. Problem is..... it's not o.k.

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#4 Dubs-nik
December 02 2013, 10:12AM
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The fourth line is good for FISTicuffs

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#5 David S
December 02 2013, 10:47AM
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Every AHL pretend-to-be NHL'er in our lineup means there's one less actual NHL'er.

Of course you're right. The fourth line SHOULDN'T be a concern. On a normal team they'd have bonafide rolls and play around 10 minutes a game. On the Oilers they play half that, forcing the producing lines to compensate. The result is what you see - high value players getting overplayed and fatigue setting in.

I contend fourth lines are VERY valuable to a team that can use them correctly. They wear the other team down and act as sub-ins to keep top line minutes reasonable. At the very least they should be break-even lines, not the defensive sink holes we've become used to.

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#6 OilClog
December 02 2013, 11:13AM
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Acton doesn't finish checks or put fear into anyone. Gazdic chases like a dog without ball, and doesn't hit much either. Joenssu plays better with talent, but isn't scaring anyone himself. When these guys are grouped together, it's ugly. It's not what you're describing Struds, unless were talking about a fourth line with Arco and Jones. Otherwise, the Oilers 4th line is a handicap everytime they hit the ice.

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#7 S cottV
December 02 2013, 12:39PM
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Kyle wrote:

I refuse to entertain discussions on any roster spot other than top two defenceman. Until this need is addressed, the rest is a waste of time. Until this need is addressed, we will not be inthe playoff conversation. I don't care if we win ten games in a row. We will lose ten in a row in the second half if we don't have the personnel to take it up a notch in the New Year.

Would agree but runs deeper than that. RNH is not going to be a true 1C for two more years. He shouldnt be a 1C at his age with all due respect to his talent and potential. Need a real veteran 1C or 2C while RNH goes through on the job training. Gagner is no where near what is needed under the circumstances. How Oilers management have let themselves be so shallow in the middle and top 2 d, after 8 years of rebuilding - is beyond me.

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#8 NewfoundlandOil
December 02 2013, 11:15AM
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I couldn't disagree more. Any coach will tell you 8-16% of the game matters and it matters a lot, especially if you are icing less capable men and they are getting throttled by the opposition. The fourth line matters, otherwise why not just play 9 forwards, or how about 6? You need the huys out there to share the ice time. The better the fourth line, the more minutes they play. If they can score great, the top guys get a breather and can be deployed more effectively.

Can Charron has an interesting article up at Leafs Nation that argues for better forward depth on the Leafs and I agree with his take.

http://theleafsnation.com/2013/12/2/fixing-offensive-woes

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#9 Todd
December 02 2013, 11:45AM
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Everyone is missing the point....

Struds said that fans spend 50%+ of their time fixated on the 4th line. This is true. He said it matters very little. This is true. He said its something you fine tune when the team is a cup contender to push it over the top to a cup win. This is true. He never said it wasn't important, relevant or worth trying hard to address.

The whole nepotism b1tchfest is so tiring. Give it up already... Who cares. Complaining about Will Acton is such a waste of breath.

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#10 Puck_In_Throat
December 02 2013, 10:32AM
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Struds is bang-on in his pre-amble.

Eakins tried to go 1st line vs 1st line at the start of the year; we got shredded. The home loss to Toronto was the most obvious example.

Top teams (Chicago, St.Louis, Detroit) send their top players out in the last minute if they are up one or down one.

Would you want Hall, Nuge and Eberle out there defending a lead (the answer is NO). Would you want Petry and Ference out there? And that's just to defend the lead. When was the last time the Oil scored with the goalie pulled to tie it up?

Eakins had the right approach at the start of the season; the problem is just that our top line is not ready to play with the big boys. Until that changes, expect a lot more Ls to pile up.

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#11 PutzStew
December 02 2013, 10:52AM
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Puck_In_Throat wrote:

Struds is bang-on in his pre-amble.

Eakins tried to go 1st line vs 1st line at the start of the year; we got shredded. The home loss to Toronto was the most obvious example.

Top teams (Chicago, St.Louis, Detroit) send their top players out in the last minute if they are up one or down one.

Would you want Hall, Nuge and Eberle out there defending a lead (the answer is NO). Would you want Petry and Ference out there? And that's just to defend the lead. When was the last time the Oil scored with the goalie pulled to tie it up?

Eakins had the right approach at the start of the season; the problem is just that our top line is not ready to play with the big boys. Until that changes, expect a lot more Ls to pile up.

I read some funny stuff the other day about Taylor Hall been top 10 LW in the League. I had a good laugh about that after looking at the left wingers points and what not on tsn.ca.

Anyways, once I placed him on the outside of my top 10 thinking about why I would put him below someone like Landeskog, Ladd or why Perron ahead of him right now on the Oilers.

Simple Answer

He is one Dimensional. Taylor Hall is solely an offensive player. So is Hemsky, RNH, Eberle, Gagner, Yakopov. They can put up points and hat is it. Lindy Ruff found this out at the last world championships and Hall's ice time was cut.

Jason is right. The bottom of the roster has little to do with this teams record. In the end the team hasn't developed their top kids into well rounded NHL players. All Offense and no substance.

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#12 vetinari
December 02 2013, 10:44AM
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I agree that the 4th line shouldn't be the focus, but part of that is due to MacT's comments last year saying that at best, our previous 4th liners were "non-factors" and at worst, "ineffective".

Also, we all know that our biggest problems are getting a 1/2 defenceman, a consistent starting goaltender, and a couple of big, "heavy" forwards that can play in the top 6, but if there are no trades out there to be had, then everyone's focus shifts to the one area of the team that won't cost an arm-and-a-leg to change-- the 4th line. And it's also the one area where MacT has actually had the means to do something about (hello, waiver wire-- meet MacIntyre and Gazdic). When MacT actually fixes one of the main problems, I am sure that no one will give more than 8% to 16% of their attention to the 4th liners...

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#13 dow7500
December 02 2013, 11:33AM
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Fourth line had the best game i've seen them play in a long, long time. Loved jones play. Head down ass up straight ahead. He better not be in the press box next game.

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#14 NewfoundlandOil
December 02 2013, 11:34AM
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Also I don't feel that the Oilers woes sit with the 4th line. Collectively they have produced about 10% of the goals so far this season and are not showing horrible +/-. Doesn't get them off the hook and I do like the Jones, Arcobello, Joenssu line better.

The Oilers have fairly balanced scoring throughout the line up.

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#15 Wintoon
December 02 2013, 12:53PM
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Appreciate the comments and thoughts about the 4th line. However, everybody talks and posts about the Oilers as an offensively gifted team. Are they? Where do they sit in terms of goals for? Which one of the dynamic offensive players is at or near the top of the league in goals or assists? Until we start seeing improvement there, I will not drink the Kool Aid. The super high draft picks have yet to deliver on the ice with any measure of consistency.

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#16 Clarko
December 02 2013, 01:10PM
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Wintoon wrote:

Appreciate the comments and thoughts about the 4th line. However, everybody talks and posts about the Oilers as an offensively gifted team. Are they? Where do they sit in terms of goals for? Which one of the dynamic offensive players is at or near the top of the league in goals or assists? Until we start seeing improvement there, I will not drink the Kool Aid. The super high draft picks have yet to deliver on the ice with any measure of consistency.

I agree with others that the fan base is too obsessed with the 4th line. As a matter of fact, the 4th line is one of the few segments of the team that actually has been not that bad. I know stats aren't everything, but Acton, Gazdic, Jones, and Brown have a combined +3 rating. I know Corsi shows they get outplayed, blah, blah, blah. But the fact is for a group that has produced very little offensively, they have allowed very few goals.

Compare those stats with the top 9. They are a combined -73 on the season (RNH, Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Hemsky, Yakupov, Gordon, Perron, Smyth). Should we spend more time talking about the group that is -73 or the group that plays very little and is +3??

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#17 OilCanFan
December 02 2013, 10:34AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"Would the greatest fourth line in history make this group a playoff team?

Nope. It wouldn't. Sorry to be the bad guy."

This is a straw man, though, right. You realize that. You must.

No one thinks that if you replace EDM's 4th line with CHI's or DET's or SJS or whatever makes this a playoff team.

No one.

"When I look at this team there are other issues that are more pressing."

But who saying that the 4th could and should be a lot better is also silent on the question of upgrading D, C, G, the 3rd line, the top lines, everything?!

No one.

The difference with the 4th line is there are internal options that provide a dramatic improvement to the team right now.

Again, not a playoff team. But better. Now. For nothing.

That is why it is a relevant topic of conversation.

This is about right - I don't think that the fans issues are around the 4th line being a difference maker or making this team a contender. We all know this team is definitely not a contender. The issue we fans (or at least I do) is why this coaching staff continued playing those AHL border line players when the are players in the system that appear capable of being much better.

Everyone knows the defenders aren't the best and the compete level is horrid etc. The issue is, based on what you have, how can you improve SOMETHING. Based on what is in the system, the only thing that could be improved upon really is the 4th line.

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#18 Oilerz4life
December 02 2013, 12:33PM
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I'm frustrated as a fan because I remember a time that our forth line could actually contribute to a win, as in score goals here and there. Yes our defence sucks, but that doesn't mean our forth line is a non issue.

I'm afraid that just because the Oilers are a non-playoff contender yet again, that MacTavish is not going to pull off the "bold moves" he promised when trade deadline roles around and we'll be stuck with another Tambellini type trade at the deadline. Then next summer it will be the same old false hope and we'll be stuck riding this lame horse again next year. Yes, the forth line is an issue and needs a major upgrade, as does the defence, centre and possibly goal.

We better start seeing some of these bold moves MacTavish bragged about. Yes, the Oilers won in Dallas, but that game was a joke and they deserved to lose.

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#19 The Farmer
December 02 2013, 10:29AM
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The thing of it is if you had a fourth line like Strudwick described, aggressive, balls out, and constantly cycling the puck down low, they wouldn't be a fourth line very long. If you spend the majority of your shift in the oppositions end good things will happen. So whatever line isn't doing this as well as the other groups is going to find themselves sliding down the depth chart to the... Yes fourth line.

Better players, better team, no matter where they slot into your lineup

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#20 camdog
December 02 2013, 11:08AM
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@PutzStew

Hall was voted top LW in the league last season only to lose because Ovechkin was incorrectly labelled as a LW when in fact he's a RW. Hall hasn't played very well since putting on the knee brace. He definitely needs to improve his D game. LW is quite possibly the least talented position in all of hockey, so being a top 10 LW isn't all that important. Many have Kunitz as a potential team Canada member...

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#21 DidYouEvenReadtheArticle
December 02 2013, 12:21PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"Would the greatest fourth line in history make this group a playoff team?

Nope. It wouldn't. Sorry to be the bad guy."

This is a straw man, though, right. You realize that. You must.

No one thinks that if you replace EDM's 4th line with CHI's or DET's or SJS or whatever makes this a playoff team.

No one.

"When I look at this team there are other issues that are more pressing."

But who saying that the 4th could and should be a lot better is also silent on the question of upgrading D, C, G, the 3rd line, the top lines, everything?!

No one.

The difference with the 4th line is there are internal options that provide a dramatic improvement to the team right now.

Again, not a playoff team. But better. Now. For nothing.

That is why it is a relevant topic of conversation.

He's not saying that it isn't a relevant topic of conversation. He's saying that it should be talked about less (read: 8-16% of the time) and that it would be a much more important topic if we had a team that was a playoff contender.

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#22 Hayek
December 02 2013, 06:32PM
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Well considering we are speaking 4th line, we should be looking at 5v5 ice time. Top Oilers are playing 15 minutes 5v5, while bottom players are average about 5 minutes.

Not saying 4th line can win games by themselves, but they are part of the team. If they are ineffective for 5 minutes, they hurt the team, while if they are effective, they help.

Obviously they don't have as big an impact as top players, but why the aversion to improving any aspect of the team?

The reason 4th line has been so criticized is because players such as Acton and Gazdic simply aren't NHL level. These players could be replaced by virtually any player on waivers, and help the Oilers.

Fixing large holes may be tough for management, but improving a 4th line is cheap and easy to do.

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#23 S cottV
December 02 2013, 11:06AM
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100% agree. The reason we are in 28th place has almost nothing to do with the 4th line. Ownership, Executive Leadership, and Coaching are far bigger factors. As for on ice - our top 6 forwards and top 4 d men vs same for most other teams in our division, just dont match up. Not even close for Pacific rivals San Jose, Aneheim, LA or Vancouver. We get eaten where it counts the most - in the top two lines and d pairings.

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#24 Killer Clafferson
December 02 2013, 11:24AM
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Finally!!

Thank you Struds for saying this! I have been reading posts and write ups from other oiler bloggers and I am so sick of this debate.

Your exactly right. The 4th line should be consistent energy guys who know their role and love that role. Everyone wants to be a goal scorer, but not everyone's a goal scorer. Keeping sustained pressure, getting to the net, then giving that exhausted Dman a bump to let him know your there. In my experience, your 4th line is full of the biggest beauties on the team. Those were always my best friends on any team I played on .

I played with Aaron Volpatti who currently plays for Washington In junior. He knew what his role was an we loved it for him. He would hammer people, great penalty killer, and a great guy to have a beer with after the game. I still remember when he scored his first goal 47 games into the season to put us up 8-1. But the bench went wild because you love seeing those guys put in the work and stand up for their teammates every night have success like that. You see those guys going to war for you so you want to do the same for them. That's what you want out of a 4th liner. I don't know if that's translated to his nhl game but that was his junior game. And we loved him for it.

Anyways haha sorry. Jeash...Got on a little rant there.

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#25 Dan the Man
December 02 2013, 12:26PM
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If you improve the 12th forward on your team, you've improved your team. Is the 12th forward the biggest problem with this team? Not by a long shot, but if you can improve your team just a bit by playing the best players you have available, why wouldn't you?

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#26 Kyle
December 02 2013, 11:46AM
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I refuse to entertain discussions on any roster spot other than top two defenceman. Until this need is addressed, the rest is a waste of time. Until this need is addressed, we will not be inthe playoff conversation. I don't care if we win ten games in a row. We will lose ten in a row in the second half if we don't have the personnel to take it up a notch in the New Year.

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#27 Todd
December 02 2013, 12:25PM
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DidYouEvenReadtheArticle wrote:

He's not saying that it isn't a relevant topic of conversation. He's saying that it should be talked about less (read: 8-16% of the time) and that it would be a much more important topic if we had a team that was a playoff contender.

^^ THIS

Its probably Gagner's fault.

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#28 OilCanFan
December 02 2013, 10:45AM
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The Farmer wrote:

The thing of it is if you had a fourth line like Strudwick described, aggressive, balls out, and constantly cycling the puck down low, they wouldn't be a fourth line very long. If you spend the majority of your shift in the oppositions end good things will happen. So whatever line isn't doing this as well as the other groups is going to find themselves sliding down the depth chart to the... Yes fourth line.

Better players, better team, no matter where they slot into your lineup

You would think that whatever line isn't "doing this as well as the other groups is going to find themselves sliding down the depth chart" to the but that doesn't really appear to be the case. The whole lip service about accountability is just that, lip service.

I don't see any of it. I also don't see a coach coaching the game, continuing to put out the "big guns" when they are playing horrible instead of managing the bench and using who is rolling. Is there something in those $6 million contracts that say they can't be benched or ice time limited?

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#29 Kyle
December 02 2013, 11:46AM
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I refuse to entertain discussions on any roster spot other than top two defenceman. Until this need is addressed, the rest is a waste of time. Until this need is addressed, we will not be inthe playoff conversation. I don't care if we win ten games in a row. We will lose ten in a row in the second half if we don't have the personnel to take it up a notch in the New Year.

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#30 Truth
December 02 2013, 12:39PM
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Where do I go to bitch about Nurse being snubbed from the WJC?

Well at least us Oiler fans can watch the future of our goaltending situation in Fucale between the pipes.... They did use that pick on Fucale, right?

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#31 Dog Train
December 02 2013, 01:42PM
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I would agree for the most part Struds but I am not sure that I would say the fourth line has been good on most nights. I would say that most nights they have been either a non factor or have spent too much time running around their own zone. The last few games have been better with guys like Jones and Arco in there. Jones was our best skater last game in my opinion and turned that game around with his big hit and throwing the puck to the net late in the 2nd. Joensuu can only be found on a milk carton right now and Acton doesn't really bring much to the table if you ask me.

Still, we are not where we are in the standings because of the fourth line. We are where we are because the guys who play the most minutes all bring the same things to the table and consequently lack some essential components of their game. Until our top players learn to play better without the puck and cut down on turnovers, we'll be stuck in neutral.

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#32 S cottV
December 02 2013, 11:07AM
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100% agree. The reason we are in 28th place has almost nothing to do with the 4th line. Ownership, Executive Leadership, and Coaching are far bigger factors. As for on ice - our top 6 forwards and top 4 d men vs same for most other teams in our division, just dont match up. Not even close for Pacific rivals San Jose, Aneheim, LA or Vancouver. We get eaten where it counts the most - in the top two lines and d pairings.

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#33 NewfoundlandOil
December 02 2013, 11:16AM
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I couldn't disagree more. Any coach will tell you 8-16% of the game matters and it matters a lot, especially if you are icing less capable men and they are getting throttled by the opposition. The fourth line matters, otherwise why not just play 9 forwards, or how about 6? You need the huys out there to share the ice time. The better the fourth line, the more minutes they play. If they can score great, the top guys get a breather and can be deployed more effectively.

Can Charron has an interesting article up at Leafs Nation that argues for better forward depth on the Leafs and I agree with his take.

http://theleafsnation.com/2013/12/2/fixing-offensive-woes

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#34 S cottV
December 02 2013, 11:22AM
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Sorry - my post comment button doesnt seem to be working properly.

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#35 Kyle
December 02 2013, 11:46AM
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I refuse to entertain discussions on any roster spot other than top two defenceman. Until this need is addressed, the rest is a waste of time. Until this need is addressed, we will not be inthe playoff conversation. I don't care if we win ten games in a row. We will lose ten in a row in the second half if we don't have the personnel to take it up a notch after the Olympic break.

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#36 Gadzic
December 02 2013, 12:11PM
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"Note to Oilers fan....Worrying about the 4th line is like wondering if you left the toiler seat up while your house is burning down."

This is not a relevant comparison. I understand that there are larger problems on the oilers ie. a seriously substandard defense corps. but the oilers should be working to fix all problems, big and small. Saying that the fourth line doesn't matter because Eakins only plays them 5-10 minutes a game does not make sense. He only plays the 4th line 5-10 minutes a game because the 4th line can't play hockey at an NHL level. Yes you want energy from your 4th line, you want effort, you want hits, you want the line to go to war.... but you also want every other player on the team to do these things. A 4th line that can play 10-15 minutes a night and penalty kill, being more than a 'non-factor' will not make the oilers a playoff team, but it will make them a better team. Ignoring any piece of the roster because 'we are not good enough' for it to be important doesn't make any sense.

Enjoy the show struds, enjoy the story but I disagree about the 4th line. Not a huge factor but still a factor, easier to fix than some of the oilers other glaring problems.

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#37 Fresh Mess
December 02 2013, 02:13PM
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The Oilers had one of the best fourth lines in the league for years featuring MacT and Buchberger. I'll never understand how MacTavish never won a Selke.

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#38 Pucker
December 02 2013, 02:17PM
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Todd wrote:

Everyone is missing the point....

Struds said that fans spend 50%+ of their time fixated on the 4th line. This is true. He said it matters very little. This is true. He said its something you fine tune when the team is a cup contender to push it over the top to a cup win. This is true. He never said it wasn't important, relevant or worth trying hard to address.

The whole nepotism b1tchfest is so tiring. Give it up already... Who cares. Complaining about Will Acton is such a waste of breath.

I haven't had time to read the rest of the comments (hopefully later), so I'll reply to this one.

50% fixated on the 4th line is an exageration. Though lots of time spent lately for a few good reasons:

- The top nine and D has also been discussed too much. Despite all our solutions, nothing seems to get done.

- Jonathon W likes to pick on the 4th, which creates replies.

- Arcobello not playing. This was ridiculous and I'm glad to see it was addressed last game.

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#39 Funky Chicken Shizzle For U
December 02 2013, 10:44AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhzMUKznZo0 ...here's to paying attention to the Oilers again next fall. Cheers!

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#40 NewfoundlandOil
December 02 2013, 11:17AM
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I couldn't disagree more. Any coach will tell you 8-16% of the game matters and it matters a lot, especially if you are icing less capable men and they are getting throttled by the opposition. The fourth line matters, otherwise why not just play 9 forwards, or how about 6? You need the huys out there to share the ice time. The better the fourth line, the more minutes they play. If they can score great, the top guys get a breather and can be deployed more effectively.

Can Charron has an interesting article up at Leafs Nation that argues for better forward depth on the Leafs and I agree with his take.

http://theleafsnation.com/2013/12/2/fixing-offensive-woes

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#41 Curcro
December 02 2013, 11:55AM
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While there are bigger issues with the Oilers than the 4th line, and Strudwick is correct in saying that a 4th line is not necessarily going to put the Oilers in the playoffs.

However, of things that are fixable, 4th line is probably the easiest to fix, and the reason is because the players that troll the 4th lines don't command a high price. So you can get an effective 4th line player for a low draft pick.

You cannot get a top pairing D for a 3rd Round Pick.

The other main reason to discuss the 4th line is it represents depth. If there is an injury, which seems to happen in Edmonton, suddenly the 4th line is playing more hockey, and you need players on the 4th line that can step into the 3rd line.

You need players on the 3rd line that can step into the 2nd line. You need players on the 2nd line that can step into the 1st line.

As soon as you don't have that - you don't have depth and it costs you hockey games. Injuries happen and to not plan for it is short sighted.

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#42 S cottV
December 02 2013, 12:53PM
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S cottV wrote:

Would agree but runs deeper than that. RNH is not going to be a true 1C for two more years. He shouldnt be a 1C at his age with all due respect to his talent and potential. Need a real veteran 1C or 2C while RNH goes through on the job training. Gagner is no where near what is needed under the circumstances. How Oilers management have let themselves be so shallow in the middle and top 2 d, after 8 years of rebuilding - is beyond me.

Geez - look at San Jose with their depth at centre - with guys that play in the middle or can - Thorton, Couture, Marleau, Pavelski. I think we coulda woulda shoulda taken Couture over Gagner in the draft.

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#43 CaptainLander
December 02 2013, 01:30PM
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The fourth line is however one of the few areas the team may actually be able to change at this point. The rest are to young to trade or not good enough to get a return. The top three lines are pretty set for now. The fourth line has options to play with so we discuss it. Not solving real problems but this site is about ranting and complaining not fixing problems.

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#44 oilerjed
December 02 2013, 01:42PM
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@ JS

The title of this article should have been "Irony"

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#45 God
December 02 2013, 06:36PM
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Perhaps in the regular season, the average 4th line plays 16% of the game. I think we should be looking, however, at the past few Stanley Cup finalists. Both Chicago and Boston had excellent 4th lines.

The measuring stick isn't for the league average but the best teams. Lets learn from the best. Paille-Kelly-Peverley last year for the Bs was an amazing trio that could play at any point in the game except for if the team was losing with 3 minutes to go. That's the goal.

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#46 Funky Chicken Shizzle For U
December 02 2013, 10:44AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhzMUKznZo0 ...here's to paying attention to the Oilers again next fall. Cheers!

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#47 S cottV
December 02 2013, 11:07AM
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100% agree. The reason we are in 28th place has almost nothing to do with the 4th line. Ownership, Executive Leadership, and Coaching are far bigger factors. As for on ice - our top 6 forwards and top 4 d men vs same for most other teams in our division, just dont match up. Not even close for Pacific rivals San Jose, Aneheim, LA or Vancouver. We get eaten where it counts the most - in the top two lines and d pairings.

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#48 camdog
December 02 2013, 11:08AM
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@PutzStew

Hall was voted top LW in the league last season only to lose because Ovechkin was incorrectly labelled as a LW when in fact he's a RW. Hall hasn't played very well since putting on the knee brace. He definitely needs to improve his D game. LW is quite possibly the least talented position in all of hockey, so being a top 10 LW isn't all that important. Many have Kunitz as a potential team Canada member...

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#49 camdog
December 02 2013, 11:33AM
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@S cottV

I think it's the site.

In respect to the 4th line, I don't think criticizing the coach for his selections is worth the energy that it has been garnering. It was a 5 game stretch, a stretch in which we won more than we lost.

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#50 nunyour
December 02 2013, 01:14PM
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I'm more concerned about our second line,because of all the small offensive players the oilers identity seems to be strickly offence,so their success is dependant on having scoring from more than your first line and the second line isn't getting it done.

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