Analysis

Ryan Carpenter: The Stabilzing Force of the Blackhawks Fourth Line

By Michael Wagner
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 14: Ryan Carpenter #22 of the Chicago Blackhawks walks out to the ice during the game against the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on October 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 14: Ryan Carpenter #22 of the Chicago Blackhawks walks out to the ice during the game against the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on October 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The off season was full of major moves that focused on rebuilding the Chicago Blackhawks defense with the acquisition of Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta but when you are rebuilding the defense it doesn’t only focus on your defenseman but on your team defense as a whole. Last season you had the likes of Marcus Kruger, Brendan Perlini, Chris Kunitz, Artem Anisimov and John Hayden marking rounding out the bottom of the line up and looking at that group it isn’t difficult to see why the team defense on a whole struggled. Enter the completely reworked fourth line.

A fourth line that currently has Alex Nylander, Zach Smith and the focus of this article, Ryan Carpenter so lets focus on the other two for the time being. Nylander is a bit of a surprise on this line considering he started the season on the top line but with is inconsistency in his first couple games he was benched in favor of Brendan Perlini. After a one game trial Perlini was out and Nylander was back in but in a reduced roll on the fourth line where he was surprisingly effective and was even able to notch the game winning goal in the Blackhawks first win over the Edmonton Oilers.


Will Nylander continue to find time on the fourth line, I think it is more likely he finds himself back up the line up or back in Rockford but he was able to add some depth scoring for the Blackhawks and I think he will at the very least continue to find a spot in the line up.

One of the staples of the fourth line going forward will be Zach Smith, he has been effective in his role defensively on the fourth line as well as creating a more difficult play style for their opposition. During the off season coach Jeremy Colliton stated they wanted to be more difficult to play against and Smith is just one of those players who has helped build upon their toughness this season while still provide solid value on the ice.

Finally we have reached the player who has quietly has been a very solid and stabilzing force to the bottom of the Blackhawks lineup, Ryan Carpenter. Carpenter was signed in the offseason after a two year stint with the Vegas Golden Knights where he was a strong bottom of the lineup player who lost his regular spot last season after battling with injuries.

When he was signed there was very little fanfare and in all honesty that would be preferable to Carpenter who has been quiet on and off the ice, which is what you want out of your fourth line center. After a solid training camp and open to the regular season Carpenter would notch his first point as a Blackhawk with a primary assist on a short handed goal against the Winnipeg Jets.

Carpenter would follow up that assist with another against the Edmonton Oilers where he would set Alex Nylander up for the game winning goal on the Blackhawks first win of the season. Carpenter isn’t an exciting player but what he has shown is his ability to be a versitile piece of the Blackhawks lineup, able to take faceoffs, play a solid defensive game, contribute on the penalty kill and chip in a point or two.


What he give the Blackhawks that they didn’t have in past years is just a rock at the bottom of the line up that they can depend on in tough situations, who will go into the corners and dig out a puck. He also gives them that extra layer of toughness that the Blackhawks have been needing, not the face punching kind but the kind you need if you are going to be successful beyond the regular season.

That is the reason Bowman has brought in players similar to Carpenter’s style, they allow for the Blackhawks to still be a team full of skill but also prevents them from being run over much like they were last season. With a team comprised of the skill players they already have the injection of players like Andrew Shaw, Smith and Carpenter the Blackhawks are going to be a difficult match up for the entire league going forward.

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