A line in ice hockey is a term used to describe a group of forwards that play in a group, or shift, during a game. A complete forward line consists of a left wing, a center, and a right wing, while a pair of defensemen who play together are called a "defensive pairing." Typically, a team dresses twelve forwards along four lines and three pairs of defensemen, though some teams elect to dress a seventh defenseman. In ice hockey, players are substituted "on the fly," meaning there is no break in the action during the substitution of players. Usually, groups of players are substituted simultaneously in coordinated groups. This is referred to as a "line change." These players are called linemates. Linemates may change throughout the game at the coach's discretion.
Types of lineEdit
- The first line is usually composed of the best offensive players on the team. Teams heavily rely on this line, which generates the bulk of the team's scoring. These players often see the highest number of minutes among forwards in a game.
- The second line is generally composed of second-tier offensive players, and helps by adding supplementary offense to that generated by the first line while contributing more two-way play than the offensively-focused scoring line. Higher end (typically first line) players may be put on the second line to spread scoring across the lineup, making a team more difficult for opponents to defend against.
- The third line is often called the checking line, and is generally made up of more defensively oriented forwards. This line is often played against an opponent's first or second lines in an effort to reduce their scoring, and physically wear them down. The third line adds less offense than the first or second lines, but generally more than the fourth.
- The fourth line is often called the "energy line," both because their shifts give other players a chance to rest, and because their physically oriented play is said to give their teammates an emotional boost. It is usually composed of journeymen with limited scoring potential, but strong physical play and, as often as possible, strong skating abilities. With the smallest amount of ice time, they tend to play in short bursts rather than pace themselves.
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