Ducks may redefine the third line

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Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer did the Ducks a great service in 2006-07.As a unit, they formed perhaps the NHL’s best shut-down checking line, and were an instrumental part of the Stanley Cup championship run.

The trio did something more, setting a template for the Ducks’ third line that lasted after Pahlsson and Moen were shipped out of Anaheim at last season’s trade deadline.

On Monday, head coach Randy Carlyle hinted that the template could change this season. So good was the defense of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the playoffs against San Jose and Detroit, that Carlyle is content to start the season with the three skilled youngsters as his shut-down unit.

“Historically we’ve played a checking line,” the coach said. “With the emergence of Getzlaf, Perry and last year Bobby Ryan, we felt we could play those guys up against anybody’s so-called number one line in the league. That’s a steppingstone.

“Are they going to be able to do it this year? Well, we’re going to wait and see, but we think they’re capable of doing that.”

If they are, third-line positions could go to forwards like Andrew Ebbett or Erik Christensen, who are not known for their defense and probably wouldn’t play on a traditional checking line. There isn’t much room for them in the Ducks’ top six, with veterans Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Joffrey Lupul in the mix to form a second scoring line.

Butwithout naming names, Carlyle sounded willing to make room for Ebbett, Christensen, or a younger skill player on the third line.

“When you have the ability to throw Selanne and Koivu together, then find a winger that can play with them, there are still some people that maybe you’d like to put in a third-line position of having offensive skills behind them,” he said.

And how does Getzlaf, the league’s sixth-leading scorer last season, feel about becoming the new Sammy Pahlsson?

“It’s a new challenge for us any player will tell you that they want to play against the best players in the league,” Getzlaf said. “The guys on those top lines who can play those minutes, if you’re able to compete with them all night long and keep your team in it, then you’re doing your job.”

This entry was posted in Anaheim Ducks/NHL by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.

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