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Rangers Fourth Line Merry-Go-Round

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1. We all understand how difficult it is to acquire elite talent absent a pick in the top two or three in the NHL draft, and maybe even without a series of those selections. But it should not be nearly as much of a challenge to create a strong and stable fourth line that plays with a defined purpose.


Yet it has been for David Quinn, who has used the fourth line as a repository for the overflow and a destination for those forwards whom he has found lacking at any given time. That has represented a failure on the part of the first-year coach, who last week said “it is an objective” to create a fourth line with an identity for 2019-20.


“I thought we had one there for a while with Smitty [brendan Smith] up-front,” Quinn said. “I thought Smitty, Boo [Nieves] and [Connor] Brickley really gave us a good fourth line, but again, there are different reasons we’re doing things and making decisions.”


The Smith-Nieves-Brickley trio played four straight and six of seven from Feb. 17-March 1, on for 33:34 with a 44.0 Corsi and a 1/0 goals for/against advantage. But Brickley has been scratched from two straight and three of the past four while Nieves has been a head-scratching healthy scratch for the past three.


When Lias Andersson, who has been a fourth-liner for 22 of his 33 games, skated between Smith and Brendan Lemieux on Tuesday against the Red Wings, as he did Saturday at Minnesota, that ended a stretch in which the Blueshirts opened with seven different fourth-line combinations in seven contests.


Indeed, the Rangers have presented 41 different opening fourth-line combinations in 73 games, not including the five matches in which the team rotated seven defensemen and double-shifted wingers. A dozen players have played at least six games on the fourth line with no single permutation remaining intact for more than five consecutive contests.

That was the Andersson-Nieves-Ryan Strome unit that stayed together from Dec. 16-27 and played a sum of 32:43 with a 31.15 Corsi and a 1/3 goals for/against (thanks NaturalStattrick.com).


“I think it’s important [to identify] a fourth line,” Quinn said. “I really do.”






Uncle Larry brings a bunch of stats to ‘explain’ the non-formation of a 4th line identity. Does that even matter this season? Or is the way Quinn used the forth line space ok as a holding pen for roster ‘extras?’

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Brooks has a point, but this season is what it is.

However, going forward I don't like the idea of the 4th line being a penal colony for players the coach isn't happy with. The 4th line is a unit with a specific function and purpose, not a tool to punish guys who aren't putting out.

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Isn't every line an under-performing conglomerate of left over shit?


Under the cap, yes. Doubt the Bolts nor Leafs nor Bruins nor Jets 4th lines comprise much else than misfit toys, if better misfits. Hard to blame a coach for the lack of roster depth .

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