Pete DeBoer was talking about the fourth line the other day and said the fact that all of the depth forwards have a history of scoring means we shouldn’t be that surprised.

“When you look at the names we have available to us, the depth there on the fourth line, you’ve got good hockey players, guys who have scored,” DeBoer said. “Craig Smith has scored 20-plus goals in this league on a number of occasions. Radek Faksa has been a double-digit scorer, Ty Dellandrea has been a double-digit scorer, Sam Steel might be the most offensive of all of those guys. So we have some good names.”

Three of those four players were taken in the first round of the NHL Draft, while Smith was a fourth-round pick by Nashville in 2009. He has 210 career goals. Faksa was drafted 13th overall by the Stars in 2012 and has scored 11+ goals in five seasons. Dellandrea was drafted 13th overall by Dallas in 2018 and posted 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists) in 82 games last season. And Steel was drafted 30th overall by Anaheim in 2016. He had 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) in 65 games with Minnesota last season.

Stars GM Jim Nill and DeBoer had a goal to increase scoring depth, which is one of the reasons Steel and Smith are here. Both have a history of playing on top lines with top players, and that makes them players who can slide up and down the lineup.

Most of the fourth liners started the season slowly. Faksa had just three goals through February. He has three goals in March now and seems to be back on a roll. Dellandrea has dealt with more healthy scratches than anyone else and has nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 40 games. Steel has been the most consistent with 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) in 66 games, while Smith has been on a roll lately.

The 34-year-old, who is on his fourth NHL team, had 16 goals in 74 games with Boston in 2021-22 and had five 20+ goal seasons with Nashville. He’s been hot this month, and that’s something the Stars were hoping for.

“He’s got a great shot, he plays hard, has lots of energy, he’s a guy who is easy to play with because you know he’s going to be 100 percent every shift,” Steel said of his linemate.

Now, he has three goals and three assists in March.

“It’s taken them a while to contribute like they have recently on a regular basis,” DeBoer said.  “We’ve been asking for that all year, and we’re starting to get that now, which is great because it’s the right time of year. You need your fourth line to win you Stanley Cups.”

An injury to Evgenii Dadonov has created opportunities for the fourth line and for Logan Stankoven, and all have taken hold of it. Now, they seem to be clicking as a group of forwards.

“I love when every line is involved,” said forward Matt Duchene. “You want to be a well-rounded team. This team is put together to be good in the playoffs, and that’s what playoff teams do.”

Key Numbers

Dallas has won both games against the Coyotes this season and is 19-2-1 in its past 22 games.

Arizona is 18-16-0 at home and 11-20-5 on the road. Dallas is 21-9-5 on the road.

Stars forward Matt Duchene has 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in a 10-game point streak against the Coyotes.

He Said It

“I like how we’re playing. You know, the coach is never happy. There’s always moments and spurts in the game where you think you can play better. Other than the New Jersey game, which stood out as an outlier to me and was probably our scheduling and fatigue catching up to us, I’ve liked our game. Even the games that we haven’t won – the Florida game, as an example – we’re playing some solid hockey.”

- Stars coach Pete DeBoer after a 4-2 win against Pittsburgh on Friday that makes the Stars 8-2-0 in their past 10 games.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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