The fourth line is usually a collection of lower tier veterans and trying out up and coming players. The 2011-12 run of the New Jersey Devils changed that for a lot of people.
That run included the fourth line that included Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter, and Stephen Gionta. Those three players gave the team a spark that they didn’t expect from three relatively unknown players. The heart that they left on the ice night in and night out gave the Devils all they needed during their run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
During the lockout shortened season they were again decent. They accumulated 18 goals between the three of them, which isn’t a lot but is good from the fourth line of a team that couldn’t score. The fact that they stayed healthy for most of the season helped them gain some chemistry throughout the year.
The Devils had a level of expectations when it came to these players. Carter has zero points in 11 games so far this season. Gionta has one point in all 14 games. Bernier, who many thought could turn into a very good player this season, has two points all season. That line has attributed one goal in all 14 games. If you combine the three players their plus/minus on the season is -23. Bernier now has a team worst -10, which interestingly puts him with Eric Staal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz as the fourth worst in the NHL.
It is understood that with the injuries to Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac they aren’t necessarily playing together, but the fact that these three are playing so badly is something that is a glaring flaw.
This line has been the worst on the team, and they have been hard to watch lately. With so much change up and down this lineup these three were supposed to have the chemistry to hold it all together. So far it has not happened. Something needs to turn around or changes need to be made. Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson are sitting in the press box when everyone is healthy, but that won’t be the case if this line cannot turn it around.
This team as a whole needs to start scoring. If an entire line can’t have more than one goal, then it is time to make a change. Whether that is Tedenby, Josefson, or even taking a shot at Reid Boucher, then that is what you have to do.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds content to the NFL and MLB sections of the site. For more insight and other banter, follow him on Twitter.