They don’t make the big paychecks or demand much attention in the media. And that fits their persona just fine.
They don’t get paid for scoring goals, but get paid for playing defense. Not very glamorous to most, but their value to the Capitals under the Peter Laviolette system has been immeasurable over the past two seasons.
The Capitals fourth line was a deciding factor in the last two games, and primarily responsible for the team taking home all four points. Last night their late-game heroics flipped a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 victory for Washington.
It began with a patented fourth line surge and a Garnet Hathaway deflection to tie the game 3-3 late in the third period.
Put your body into it! pic.twitter.com/r9uvZFzjhD
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 18, 2022
Laviolette had seen enough. He put the fourth line right back out on the ice. Most would think it would be the top line or the second line getting a bulk of the time on ice in the closing seconds of regulation. Not for Laviolette and the Capitals. The fourth line would subsequently give the Capitals the lead.
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) February 18, 2022
Tuesday night’s victory in Nashville can be credited to the entire team. However, the game and it’s outcome may very well have been decided in a single shift. A single shift by the Capitals’ fourth line.
The Predators had been knocking on the door the entire game. They struck iron on what seemed like a half-dozen shots or so, but couldn’t find paydirt. Then, early in the final period the inevitable occurred. Nashville tied the game 1-1. It felt like it was just a matter of time, as the switch in momentum seemed palatable.
Things could have gone off the rails at that point, like they had in many recent games for the Capitals. But this time it didn’t, thanks to the fourth line.
Less than a minute later, in their very next shift, the Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway line, with help from the Capitals shutdown defenders of Nick Jensen and Dmitry Orlov, turned in this beautiful piece of poetry. It was as if they had said enough is enough.
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) February 16, 2022
There is no flashy nickname or cutesy antonym for their line, which seems about right when you consider their unflashy, workmanlike style of play. They are tasked night in and night out at stopping the opposing team’s superstars, and yet, somehow they not only find a way to defend against the superstars, but also find a way to score.
By Jon Sorensen