My wife, who is not a very sophisticated fan but follows the team a bit, says to me today, "How many fourth lines do we have?"
I started to crack up, because the reason she asked this question was that Higgins had just scored and the RDS commentators said, "Un AUTRE but par le quatrième trio!"
Then, the next shift featured Metropolit, Laraque and Stewart, and THEY were called "le quatrième trio" as well.
And then we have the Lapierre line, which plays a fourth-line style, meaning energy/forechecking, except that they are very good at it and right now are not getting the label. However, let's not forget that earlier in the season, Lapierre's line was almost ALWAYS referred to as the fourth line, behind the Koivu, Plekanec and Lang lines.
In a perverse way, Guy Lafleur might have been 75% correct!
Seriously, I LOVE the way Gainey is playing his cards and adapting lines to the evolving situation.
Essentially last night, all three players on what was our second scoring line in January, Lang-AKost-SKost, were hurt and not playing. Yet we don't miss a beat. Lapierre and Latendresse are playing like second liners right now, and Kostopoulos is keeping up in a respectable way. Higgins and Dandenault have become VERY EFFECTIVE checkers, and have demonstrated they can handle third (defensive) line minutes, while our FIFTH line, Metropolit-Laraque-Stewart, is showing they can play GOOD fourth line minutes (10-11 per game) and not look out of place.
The secret to the current success seems to be very good communication to all of their role and the expectations Gainey has of them. The players are responding very well and deserve lots of credit as well.