Fourth line presents good problem for Q

April, 6, 2010
4/06/10
11:27
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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They’re not supposed to score.

Fourth-line players are supposed to bang and crash, but they’ve been lighting the lamp lately too, including Tuesday night in the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-2 win in Dallas.
Adam Burish
AP Photo/Mike FuentesAdam Burish had two assists on Tuesday night against the Stars.

"That line, every night, lately has been effective and productive," coach Joel Quenneville said after the game on Comcast Sportsnet.

This time it was Colin Fraser, who netted two goals, while Adam Burish had two assists and Tomas Kopecky added a helper as well. Kopecky has also added three goals to his total over the last week. Not to be left out, Ben Eager had a three-point night against the Minnesota Wild on March 31. Starting to get the picture?

"We like their overall contribution," Quenneville said. "Two more [goals Tuesday], which is a bonus."

Fraser, Eager, Burish, and Kopecky are fighting for playing time. If the rest of the lineup is healthy, that’s four players for three spots. Heading into the playoffs, no one wants to be the odd man out.

Recently, it had been Burish who was riding the bench. Before that, Fraser was watching from the press box while Kopecky had a couple of healthy scratches in there as well. They have all picked up their games.

"It’s nice when we do have tough decisions," Quenneville said. "We welcome that."

The bigger picture is the matchup problem a productive fourth line can cause in the postseason. With the skill the Hawks have on their top three forward lines, no opponent can possibly match their top defensemen against fourth-line players.

Nothing brings out the best in players than competition for playing time. The way the Hawks' fourth-line players are going, Quenneville is right, they will have some tough decision to make.

Like he said, a good problem to have.

NOTES
  • With the victory the Hawks clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the conference.
  • The Hawks reached the 50-win plateau for the first time in franchise history.
  • Troy Brouwer missed the game to reportedly take care of some family matters.
  • Jesse Rogers | email

    Chicago Cubs beat reporter
    Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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