Chicago Blackhawks: Will 3rd Line Continue to Shine?

By Tim Lively

May 25, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing

Teuvo Teravainen

(86) is congratulated by left wing

Patrick Sharp

(10) and center

Antoine Vermette

(80) as Anaheim Ducks left wing

Patrick Maroon

(19) looks on during the second period in game five of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

As we all know, the Stanley Cup playoffs are full of storylines, and for our beloved Chicago Blackhawks so far during this year’s quest for the Cup, we’ve been hearing familiar ones: outstanding play by Mr. Clutch and Mr. Overtime Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, Patrick “Showtime” Kane, Corey Crawford and his key saves, and the iron will of Captain Serious Jonathan Toews driving the Hawks to victories.

We’re also hearing some new narratives this post season, like the emerging star power of Brandon Saad, and the grit and grind of the scrappy fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Andrew Shaw, and Marcus Kruger.

These are all storylines any team that wants to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup needs to have, and with the Hawks taking on the Tampa Bay Lighting in Game 2 of the Finals this evening, let’s hope these stories continue.

There is however one tale that has not yet quite completely unfolded for the Blackhawks during this playoff push, and it’s that of their third line of Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Teravainen, and Patrick Sharp.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (though you probably already know this already), the Stanley Cup is won by a team’s bottom lines. With the Blackhawks and Lightning’s top talent for the most part canceling each other out, it’s on the Hawks’ third and fourth line to carry the day.

As we’ve already seen, the Hawks’ fourth line is more shutdown than scoring, with goals coming more as flukes rather than mainstays, which is why in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Hawks’ third line is primed to break out, and if Game 1 was any indication, they may very well be taking center stage in this series.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. On any other NHL team, Patrick Sharp and Antoine Vermette would be at the very least on the second line, if not the first, period. That is just ridiculous depth, but it’s also been the case for the Hawks in past Stanley Cup victories. The likes of Andrew Ladd and Dave Bolland, to name a few, all went on to play on the top lines of other teams after helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup from the lower rungs. With Vermette and Sharp however, the reverse is true, as both have proven to be top line fixtures already in their careers.

Then there’s Teuvo Teravainen, who despite being the Blackhawks’ neophyte, practically single-handily won Game 1 for the Hawks. This to shouldn’t come as a surprise. Teravainen, although at the very beginning of a very promising career, has had his greenness minimized by being flanked by nearly a collective 21 years of NHL experience in Sharp and Vermette.

The aforementioned have made for a potent combination that thus far has been having a relatively quiet time in the playoffs. Against Tampa Bay however, this line has had a stellar start, and only time will tell if Game 1 will be an exception or the norm when it comes to the Blackhawks’ depth creating mismatches.

For me, that’s a story I’d really like to hear…