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The Calgary Flames are a hockey club that has some problems these days. In terms of their lines and deployments. Simply put: their fourth line hasn’t measured up this season.

For this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday we ask: Can you fix the fourth line?

The Flames are dealing with two simultaneous challenges right now. The first one is their middle six group has been very good lately to the point where those line groupings may be set:

  • Andrew Mangiapane has found a home with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk on the second line
  • Dillon Dube has found a great fit with Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic on the third line

Even as the Flames have flailed and gone into a skid in recent weeks, these lines have been consistent bright spots and done their best to generate offense at even strength. (Well, even more recently than that for Dube’s trio given his recent recall.)

But that leaves a problem with the first line and the fourth line. The first line has almost defaulted back to the Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm group out of necessity – the second and third lines are performing so well that it seems ill-advised to break them up. While the de facto top line hasn’t been playing like a top line at even strength, perhaps they can get their mojo back given some time.

Using those nine players on the top three trios, though, leaves an odd mix for the fourth line: some combination of Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, Michael Frolik and Mark Jankowski. (Granted, this mix is a product of injuries to Sam Bennett and Austin Czarnik and the team’s bad cap situation.)

The big challenge for the fourth line is this: there’s a big pace drop-off between this trio and basically every other Flames line. It’s led by a center who has played the most minutes in the NHL this season without registering a point in Jankowski. Rinaldo’s a grinder with a physical edge, Rieder is a speedy penalty kill specialist without much scoring pop, while Frolik is a two-way winger who’s gradually faded into the background on the Flames.

The fourth line has become the odds and ends group of the Flames this season when as recently as last season – with Mangiapane, Ryan and Garnet Hathaway – it at times pushed the pace more than any other forward line.

At this point, the best options may be either to park Rinaldo in the press box and make do with Rieder, Jankowski and Frolik as the final trio or to get a bit creative and take advantage of the waiver statuses of Rinaldo and Rieder and potentially float them down to the farm in favour of trying out the likes of Ryan Lomberg or Matthew Phillips in complementary roles. Goodness knows the Flames could use some speed and new faces in the mix.

What would you do to fix the fourth line? Would it be worth it to disrupt the other three lines to provide balance, or would dipping into Stockton be a better option to mix things up? Sound off in the comments!