The logic of a third line that isn’t “defensive”

Every time I suggest that the Kings put someone like Oscar Moller, Andrei Loktionov, Tyler Toffoli, Teddy Purcell, Linden Vey, etc., on a so-called third line, I invariably get responses about how bad those players are defensively and how they would get crushed in match-ups against opponents’ top lines.

Here’s the thing. Our third line — the Stoll line — doesn’t play against the opponents’ top lines. That responsibility falls to Kopitar’s and Richards’ lines. Because our top six lines are hybrids. They are both scoring lines and stopper lines. Richards and Kopitar are both excellent defensive centers. They stack up well against virtually any opponent, and yet are dangerous enough that opponents must try to get their own defensive lines out against them. Well, you can’t have it both ways. When your top lines are excellent both offensively and defensively, it exposes the weaknesses in the top lines of your opponent.

The Kings don’t have two scoring lines, one stopper line and an “energy” line. They have three hybrid lines and an energy line. The main distinction between the third line and the first two is that the third line doesn’t have the offensive or the defensive chops of the first two lines.

But if you have a third line that is fast and deadly accurate — a la Granto – Donnelly – Millen — who exactly is your opponent going to match against them? They’ll have three lines to defend against.

It forces opponents to defend against a wider array of differing attacks. It allows the Kings to play in a wider array of styles.

That’s the appeal of a third unit of Pearson – Loktionov – Toffoli, or Vey instead of Loktionov, or King instead of Pearson.

 
  • https://twitter.com/BobKnob2point0 Bob Knob

    Agree. Because you have Kopi (and now Richards and Carter), you have so much versatility to play your third and fourth lines. You can shelter the third or fourth and give them weak matchups and more offensive zone starts.

  • okto

    and it is also troubling that in my mind, richards is not doing well in the shut down role.