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Penguins Third Line on Verge of Breaking Out

The Pittsburgh Penguins dedicate their third line to play a full 200-foot game, but they are beginning to roll on all cylinders.

While the third line of the Pittsburgh Penguins have seen bursts of offense at different points in the season, it’s been a relatively stagnant group.

That’s not to say the Penguins third line of Jeff Carter, Brock McGinn, and Kasperi Kapanen, or on occasion Danton Heinen, has been bad, they’re just utilized in a different way.

While the offensive production may not show up all of the time, the third line usually handicapped the moment they step on the ice.

Carter said himself that his group is usually starting in the defensive zone and are tasked with moving everything up ice.

“We’ve gotten out of our end better, which obviously helps our line,” Carter said. “We start in down there a lot with D-zone face offs.”

Despite starting in the defensive zone, Carter has been one of the best face off guys on the Penguins, winning 58.5% of his draws.

After gaining possession, it’s all about simplifying the game for the line; getting it out of the defensive zone and transition into offense with ease.

“There’s been nothing pretty with what we’ve been doing,” Carter said. “Just straight lines and getting pucks to the net. We’re pretty straight forward. We don’t try to do too much.”

A focus of defense is an integral part to both lines in the Penguins bottom six, but it’s the third line that is expected to pick up some slack in offensive production.

McGinn was been chipping in with seven goals on the year and the return of Kapanen has had a huge boost for the line as a scoring threat.

“You see what he can do out there with his speed,” Carter said about Kapanen. “He came back in, we talked about just playing straight lines. Driving the net.”

That point of crashing the net and getting to the crease was exactly what the Penguins wanted Kapanen to do when he returned to the lineup.

Use his speed to enter the zone, then plant himself in front of the goalie and wait for the opportunity to arise.

The game plan has worked out for Kapanen, so far, with four goals in his first four games back in the lineup.

“You look at the four goals he scored,” Carter said. “They were all in the crease. That’s where you got to go these days to score goals.”

A team needs scoring from the depth to be successful in the NHL, the Penguins had been lacking that punch early on, but the third line seems to be coming around.

Hopefully the pace from Kapanen can continue while Carter and McGinn play stout defensive hockey in their own end.

The Penguins third line is a group dedicated to playing the entire 200-foot ice surface, and they are on the cusp of hitting a great stride.

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