Power To The People: Second City Hockey's Season Preview - The 4th Line

Today's query is a multiple part-er that basically all relates to the same thing, and it's from Boris Mironov:

1) Do you think we will be able to roll out a 4th line that will consistently slay bums while being responsisble (somewhat) in their own end?

2) Who will the 4th line consist of on the opener and then at mid-season (barring trades, etc)?

3) If Kruger fails to live up to expectations during training camp, do you think Ho-Bo-Fro makes a comeback as Line #2?

4) Over/under on number of games it takes before Q-Stache goes all Happy Gilmore on Stalberg and murders him with a skate?

Basically all relating to the 4th line, so we'll go with that.

The answer is the first is a yes because of the answer to the second. And the answer to the second is pretty much tied to the answer to #3. Isn't this a tangled web? So follow the jumps here, and I think it'll all make sense. But then everything I say makes sense to me, even though I'm generally always on the receiving end of blank stares and slacked jaws. Could be my ravishing good looks though. Anywho....

Like this was Quiz Show, I'd like to take the third part first. And the answer to that, for me, is no. The Hawks clearly love Bolland as a 3rd center, which is an unfair term, because whatever role he's playing, he's the second best center on the team. However, he's one of the league's best checking centers while still able to chip in a fair amount of offense, and the Hawks aren't going to move him from that role. While they love to talk up Kruger's checking and defensive abilities, Stan and Q would have to fall pretty deep down the rabbit hole to hand Bolland's duties to Kruger at any point. So you're going to see Bolland and Frolik on a third line, with a winger-to-be-determined.

If Dream Warrior (Kruger) snuffs it, look for Patrick Sharp (with a new zipper opening!) to go back to the middle, despite the face he'll make. It's clearly the best option the Hawks have, and would allow Hossa to play with Toews, which we all agree is a good thing. Should that happen, I think there's a pretty fair chance that Ben Smith starts out as your 4th line center. Smith centered in Rockford and at BC, so he isn't unfamiliar with the role. He may have to have Mayers take the draws, but that's not unheard of to have a winger do that. Some guy named Iginla does it. While Smith has his delusional fan club (President: Rogers, Jesse), Smith seems suited for a 4th line, energy role right now.

So will that 4th line be able to take a regular shift and best the ones opposite them. Well, we have too small a sample size with Smith, but we know he's not dumb and shouldn't make too many mental mistakes. We can't say the same for Dan Carcillo, obviously. And if you read Carcillo's Behind the Net stats from last year, you'll end up behind the couch ('m a writer, y'know!). They're Sarah Jessica Parker ugly. A -3.28 in Rating, a CORSI of -8, and that's not with ridiculous bad teammates or hard competition. However, the season before he led Flyers forwards in RATING. What people forget because of his goofiness is he can play a bit. He wasn't a stranger to top lines in case of injuries.

As for Mayers, he also got completely mullered in terms of CORSI and Rating last year in Northern California. However, he was saddles with a woeful Quality of Teammates, which he probably wouldn't have here. Skating with Scott Nichol, and then whatever kid du jour will do that. And his CORSI from the previous year wasn't much better, though most of that was with a disaster of a Toronto team and a not much better Calgary one.

To summarize, the 4th line won't be the Madden-Eager-Kopecky dream we remember from the 2010 playoffs, but it won't be the wasteland that couldn't even get out of the garage last year. All of Smith, Carcillo, and Mayers are accustomed to being on energy unit, which Stalberg, TomoKop, and Kruger weren't. It'll be better.

As for who might man it during midseason, with such a logjam at forward a few bodies would have to be moved out or really disappoint to see anyone new. One name I think you should keep tabs on is Rob Klinkhammer, who had a good season at Rockford last year, is a big body and isn't afraid to use it. I think he'll get a run out when injuries hit, and I think he could make himself a home on the bottom unit.

I imagine by the time you're done reading this, Stalberg will already be dead.