There comes a time when certain hockey lines become in need of naming. Throughout the years, the Rangers themselves have had a few memorable lines, including but not limited to the “G-A-G” (Goal A Game) line which consisted of Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert, and Vic Hadfield during the late 1960’s and early 70’s, and the “Czech Mate” line of Jan Hlavac, Petr Nedved, and Radek Dvorak during the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
While it’s early yet, as they’ve only played together for about a month, the time has seemingly come for a new line to be granted such a distinction, and that is the trio of Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, and JT Miller. During their time together thus far, the Rangers’ third line has consistently provided headaches for the opposition, and even when they haven’t posted points on the score sheet, they have still been one of the team’s most effective lines on a night in and night out basis by using their speed, size, and skill.
Now I am not saying that they are perfect, nor am I even saying they deserve to be considered the team’s top-line. They don’t. But boy, when they are on, they are on, and Wednesday’s game in Washington was exhibit “A.”
The Rangers’ third line was responsible for the majority of the team’s offense in the contest against the Capitals, as Hagelin and Miller both lit the lamp, accounting for two of the three Ranger goals on the evening, while Hayes had the primary assists on each of those tallies.
The way they simply overwhelmed the third place team in the Metropolitan Division was remarkable, and the fact that the average age of the line is 23 makes it flat-out scary.
In Hagelin, you have a small jumping bean-like skater whose speed is among the best in the NHL which in turn creates space on the ice for his fellow line mates. Then there’s Miller, who has at long last seemingly secured a full-time spot on the Rangers roster. It’s his strength and work along the boards which makes him a key player on the wing. And then of course there’s Mr. Hayes at center. Hayes, just 22 years of age playing in his first professional season out of Boston College, has gone from a young kid transitioning his game from the College to Professional level, to a full-time NHL skater who is quickly approaching stardom.
I wish there were a better way to say this, but Kevin Hayes is just a monster in the making, and he’s got this goal from Tuesday’s game against the Islanders to prove it.
Put the three together, and you’ve got quite a third line which has helped only further pad the offensive depth on this year’s Rangers squad. And while the top-two lines may be overall more talented and consistently offensively savvy, the youthful and energetic nature of the third line has provided a more-than pleasant surprise to the Rangers and their fans, and a fresh excitement has come along with it.
And so, here they stand in need of something to set them apart, something that will establish them as not just some third line that has recently come together, but a name that will make them recognizable to all who look and listen.
With names like Hagelin, Hayes, and Miller, nothing stands out off the bat. Sure, Hagelin is quick, and Hayes is big and strong, but so are plenty of other NHL players. You could head in the direction of college hockey, as both Hayes and Hagelin went that route to the NHL, but Miller throws a bit of a wrench in that one. And then there’s science, and quite frankly, where would these three line mates be if it weren’t for a little bit of chemistry?
Just as water is known as H2O, why can’t Miller (M), Hayes (H), and Hagelin (H) be forever known as the MH2 line? Now I will admit, this brilliant idea is not a Gittler original, in fact it belongs to the ever-prominent twitter man Steven David himself, but it is really just so fitting for this trio of players, and I fully support the MH2 idea.
I call them MH2 bc they have great chemistry. #Science
— Steven David (@Garts2point2) March 12, 2015
From the first day this line was assembled by Alain Vigneault following the knee injury to Jesper Fast, they have done nothing but thrive. In 16 games since its formation, the MH2 line has collected a combined 27 points, and are a collective plus-25. Again, not dominant, but pretty darn good for a third line.
The overarching message here, though, is this. Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, and JT Miller have come together to surprise many a fan. Some night’s they’re buzzing around the offensive zone and posting points the way a top-line would, and other’s they’re just playing good, smart hockey. At this point in the season, there’s no sane reason to expect that these guys would get split up, so seeing as they’ll more-than likely be together at least for the foreseeable future, the time feels right to really push the idea of a name for this line.
Good on Steven David for his creativity. The above wordage has simply been my endorsement. Here’s to a strong finish to the season for the MH2 line.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.