This line is more of my personal opinion of them last night more than how they will be for the entire season. For starters, we were on the road. We couldn't match up our top checking line with their scoring line. That being said, the game started with our Richards, Carter, Carcillo line. They threw out, as expected, the Crosby line. Mike Richards understands his role. He is our captain. If the team needs him to play wing... He'll play wing. If they want him to play defense... He'll play defense. If they want him to be our GOALIE, he'll do it. So when he's gotta go up against the crosby line (or the Towes/Kane/Byfulgian (Hossa) line) he knows his primary goal is to shut them down. Like Emerik and all those other guys were saying last night, the winner of that game (and most games) is the winner of the battle of the third line. The last meaningful seven games we played the Mike Richards/Jeff Carter/Dan Carcillo (Simone Gagne) line's primary responsibility has been shutting down the opposition's top line. The Hawks top line was nothing against us. The Crosby line (and Malkin) were nothing against us. This line is an amazing blend of size, speed, grit, and defensive ability. I'd be fine if they didn't get a point all year, but neither did the opposition's top line (yeah it's an exageration and would never happen), but if it did happen we would win 70% of the games we play.
Guys, it has been one game. Please don't call for the break-up of our "top line". Top line means a line that can score and play defense. Danny/Harts/Ville is a great SCORING line, but if you put that line against the competition that the Richie line goes against, we'd be in 5-6 type games all the time... and that goes for the JVR/G/Z line also. The top line had 10 of the 34 hits (Richie had 4, Carcillo had 5), won 9 of 20 faceoffs, and Richie tacked on a great PP assist. My plea to you is to try to watch the game through just the numbers, and to see how effective the two way play of this line is. If you need an example, remember how Richie fired that slap shot on the breakaway? Lots of guys take it to the net, don't score and create an odd man rush for the bad guys in the other way.
Guys, we just beat the Penguins, in their house, the night it opened, on opening hockey night, without big Chris Pronger, and a 22-year-old rookie goalie in net. If the only real negative is the offensive chemistry of our top line wasn't on point against the defending Rocket Richard Trophy winner... then I'd say we did a pretty good job.