Sharks Finally Find Competent Fourth Line

Fab Fourth

They didn’t play a whole lot, Tyler Kennedy skated only 9:33 and Tye McGinn skated his second lowest total of the season at 7:20 but the Sharks fourth line Thursday, rounded out by Andrew Desjardins, put in a tremendous performance.

For the first time all season, the Sharks featured a fourth unit without Mike Brown, Adam Burish, or John Scott, three players more known for racking up penalty minutes than anything else. And surprise, surprise, it paid off. Kennedy ended up scoring what turned out to be the game winning goal (Tyler Kennedy, game winning goal, where have I heard that before?) in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lighnting on a pretty stretch pass from Brent Burns.

McGinn, Desjardins, and Kennedy would all finish plus-1 for the night with the latter pumping four shots on goal in his 9:33. The trio cycled down low in the offensive zone and were able string passes together on the breakout. Yet it is puzzling to note that while this trio played great in a win, their ice time was significantly lower than the previous night’s fourth line featuring Scott and Burish. Despite being on the ice for two goals against and miserably failing to execute on a couple of offensive chances they did get, Burish and Scott each skated over 12 minutes in the 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Certainly that amount of ice time can be attributed to the lopsided score, but Scott playing 12 minutes and McGinn playing just seven minutes is a head scratching discrepancy to say the least. McGinn has 12 points in 46 career NHL games, Scott has 7 points in 242 career games. There is no reason to trust Scott defensively over McGinn either as Scott is a career minus-20, McGinn just a minus-2. The lack of ice time for McGinn and especially Kennedy who has played great since returning from injury (1g, 1a, plus-2, 13 SOG in five games) is a depressing sign that this line will get broken up quickly in favor of Scott, Burish and when healthy, Brown. With the way this fresh new unit played against the Lightning, one would have expected to see double digit ice time totals for all three players. They are all quality hockey players.

(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)
(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Even without penalty kill time, a McGinn, Desjardins, Kennedy line is a trio that can be consistently relied upon to play 10 plus minutes per night. Whereas it is no surprise why Scott and Brown normally play only around five or six minutes a night. With the young talent in today’s NHL and the parity around the league, teams cannot afford to over tax top players and have a limited fourth line. Teams need fourth lines playing 9-12 minutes per night on a regular basis. Scott, Brown, Burish don’t help in this regard. If the Sharks are wise, they will keep the same 12 forwards from Thursday’s win in the lineup for the next few games barring any injuries.

6 thoughts on “Sharks Finally Find Competent Fourth Line”

  1. I don’t think it is puzzling at all that their ice time was less. You can’t compare ice time for a 4th line between a 4-0 blowout and a 2-1 battle. A 4th line is always going to play more in a 4-0 game than in a 2-1 game, no matter who the players. I guarantee you the majority of the ice time in the Florida game for the 4th line came in the 3rd period, and the least amount of ice time for the 4th line in the Tampa game came in the 3rd. In a 4-0 game it’s obvious your top lines aren’t getting it done so you try to get a spark from other lines. You also want to get those players valuable ice time that they wouldn’t otherwise get in a say 2-1 game when you need your top players out there, much like the Tampa game.

    The correlation is between the score and the ice time, not the players and the ice time. You can see this in the Oct 19th game they played against NY. It’s a comparable game as the Sharks were also down 3-0 going into the 3rd. The 4th line was Desi, McGinn, and Burrish and each player had between 10:30 and 12:30 of ice time. In the only other 2-1 game this year the Sharks lost to Buffalo…the 4th line was Scott, Burrish, and Desi and they all played less than 10 minutes, with Scott playing less that 6.

    Furthermore, the goal scored by Kennedy, a 3rd line player, assisted by Burns, a top pairing d-man, really had nothing to do with the 4th line.

    • Appreciate the comment AS, and as i mentioned in the piece, it does have to do with the lopsided score, I just saw a fourth line play vs Tampa Bay that should have had a bit more ice time imo, and a fourth line vs Florida that shouldn’t have played as much as they did even in a blowout.

  2. Andrew, Last time I heard about Kennedy he was on the chopping block, now with McGinn and Desjardins he’s looking well worth his paycheck right? Are you kidding me? The guy has 2 good games and now suddenly he’s vital to this team? I don’t dispute that Scott and Burish need to be scratched but with Kennedy being in the LW that belongs to Torres. Torres is in no way being traded by the Sharks so I see this as Kennedy is still on the block and Doug Wilson is playing Trade Bait Chess with another GM.

    • well see, actually he has played 5 games since coming back and looked good in all 5, he’s also played on the third line most of those games, not just the fourth. He also had his worst year of his career a year ago, standard deviation from the norm would suggest he is due for a bounce back. This is a player who scored 10 goals or more every year of his career b4 last year he scored just four. Chances are he scores about 10-12, and has 22+ points this year. So far he has two points in five, which puts him on pace for 28 points the rest of the season, even after missing the first 13 due to injury.

  3. I honestly think their reduced ice time was at least partially due to the fact that they spent less time pinned in their own zone unable to change.

    • that certainly can aid to a bad line spending more time out there on a few shifts, but if a fourth line is playing that bad, they should see less shifts overall, so it shouldn’t make that much of a difference.

      Appreciate the read and comment JG!

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