Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Fourth Line Resurgence

Zenon Konopka finally registered a point! Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

“Dany Heatley gets put on our line. Total professional. Instead of coming with a bad attitude to our line, total opposite. So excited to play with me and Mitchell, raised our game and was excited to play with us. I think it shows the unselfishness of him and being a true professional.”-Zenon Konopka

Prior to the Wild's game Sunday night against New Jersey, Mike Yeo decided to switch up his lines in order to spark a little more offense. One of the switches he made was sending Dany Heatley (noted 50 goal scorer and All-Star in the NHL) down to the fourth line alongside Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell.

The move was more a last ditch effort to spark Heatley, who has not been playing great to start the season with various linemates.

At first thought, you are thinking that this is it for Heatley. He is going to get mad for being put on the fourth line after a dismal start to the season, right? Wrong. Heatley went down to the fourth line and brought positive energy and a spark that the line has sorely needed (as noted by Konopka in the quote above).

In the two games since the switch, the line has combined for three goals and one assist with just seven shots on goal. And add to the fact that they are only getting somewhere between 14-17 shifts (Heatley gets a few more since he gets PP time), and it makes their performance all the more impressive. They have made their ice time count, and it has lead to two Wild victories in which the team's margin of victory has been four goals in each game.

As you can see in these videos, the line has not only been generating chances offensively, they are getting those chances by causing offensive zone turnovers. How many teams can boast that their fourth line is creating turnovers in the offensive zone and capitalizing on them? Not many.

Obviously, this is a very small sample size of games. But the fact that this line has clicked instantly and put two bad teams in their place, is a very good sign for the Wild. If they can continue on with this style of play, then they give the Wild one of, if not the best, four forward lines in this league in terms of scoring.

Now just imagine what this team can do if all four lines can continue to contribute like this...

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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