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Wild's Third Line Trying to be the X-Factor

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks feature some solid scoring depth throughout their line-up. But the Wild have been able to balance that depth with depth of its own by featuring a third line that possesses the ability to score as well. Not to mention, Charlie Coyle is developing into a nice puck possession center, even if he isn't lighting up the scoreboard at a feverish pace.

That line of Jason Zucker, Coyle, and Thomas Vanek was deployed pretty heavily against the likes of Marcus Kruger, Andrew Desjardins, and Andrew Shaw. They also saw heavy doses of Duncan Keith, Chicago's top defensemen, and Michal Rozsival. While giving up two goals that were the result of either a defensive breakdown, like Kruger's goal, or the mis-play of the puck by the goaltender, the way Devan Dubnyk whiffed at trying to catch Teuvo Teravainen's goal, that line connected to start the three goal comeback in the second period when Zucker scored.

The Wild's third line did a good job of stifling scoring opportunities and getting chances of their own at 5-on-5. Charlie Coyle saw 14:27 of ice time and had a Shot Attempt differential of -3. His Scoring Chance differential was only a -1, which means that he or his linemates were also getting a number of scoring chances themselves. here's a look at the rest of his linemates:

Player TOI CF+/- SCF+/-
Charlie Coyle 14:27 -3 -1
Jason Zucker 14:27 -3 EVEN
Thomas Vanek 16:19 +4 +5

The team as a whole had 19 scoring chances to Chicago's 24. It was an even game outside of the score for most of it, but those five extra scoring chances are easily the difference here. However, it is encouraging to see that line be a positive in scoring chances, and weren't terribly out-possessed either. Thomas Vanek having a net positive effect at 5v5, and getting two assists throughout the game is a storyline to follow as the series progresses.

I would look for this line, who will be getting a better match-up than they did against the Blues, to continue to get chances - especially when the series returns to Xcel Energy Center. And with the Blackhawks showing off their scoring depth, it is imperative for this line to respond as well.