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Bolts' third line continues to impress

by Corey Masisak /
Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie have combined for 12 goals and 30 points in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They haven't been just the most productive third line in this postseason -- they're one of the top lines period. The Sedin twins and Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver's top line, also have combined for 12 goals and 30 points -- though they've had two more games to do so.

San Jose's most-frequent trio at even strength has been Ryan Clowe, Logan Couture and Dany Heatley. They have combined for 13 goals and 33 points, but again in two more games than Tampa Bay has played.

One of Boston's top two lines -- Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi -- has combined for 9 goals and 30 points. The other, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton has 12 goals and 25 points.

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher mixes and matches with his lines so much that none of them have stayed together for as much ice time as the top lines from the other three semifinalists, but he's found a dynamic trio in Moore, Bergenheim and Downie.

So the question moving forward is this -- do the Lightning now expect this consistent offensive production from what is a supposed to be a defense-first unit?

"You have to watch out because you don't want to expect it," Boucher said. "Their role is always hustling and great defensive play. I did talk to them about it already and not just today but in previous days. I think it is important for players to understand that you need to play within our strengths as a team and as individuals too. If you lose your strengths, eventually whatever else you are doing well is going to fade away."

Added Moore: "I don't think it is a case where we are worried about that. We've played our game from the first game and we'll continue to play our game -- whether it is producing point-wise or not. I think we make contributions regardless."

Bergeheim leads all NHL players in this postseason with 8 goals. There are only seven players with more points than Downie's 12 and only one with a better plus-minus rating than his plus-9.

Then there is Moore, who Boucher called "the ghost" on that line because he does a lot of the work and the other two have ended up getting a lot of the credit. Part of the reason why they have become such a dangerous trio is they haven't tried to change the way they play despite the explosion of offensive success.
"It is important for the Bergenheims and the Moores and Downies to understand that hustling, not being a liability defensively, being first on pucks, the way they battle and bulldoze around the net is key to our team -- not just because they score goals but because they inspire the rest of the team also," Boucher said. "They could not score for the next four games and still do their jobs, just like [Steven] Stamkos last game blocking some shots. He didn't get a goal, but he filled his role as a guy who's trying to win. I think that's more important."
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