Mar 23, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vancouver Canucks left wing Tom Sestito (29) checks Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (27) in the first period of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sestito, Schroeder, and Kassian on the Canucks Fourth Line?

Vancouver Canucks left winger Tom Sestito looks like a safe bet to get the start on the fourth line when the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs start either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Saturday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was meaningless game for the Canucks, but it was a pivotal one for Sestito, Dale Weise, Steve Pinizzotto, Andrew Ebbett. They were all auditioning for spots in the lineup for Game 1.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault could go with any one of the four on left wing on the fourth line. Rookie centre Jordan Schroeder could take over the fourth line centre position from Ebbett.

Sestito appears to be the one player that earned a spot in the lineup following Saturday’s game.

He scored his first goal as a Canuck to cap off a play that started off with a great defensive play in the Canucks zone. Sestito tipped a loose puck past the pinching Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid. He rubbed Smid out along the boards at the Canucks blue line and moved the puck to defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who eventually found Zack Kassian down the left wing for a shot on Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Sestito was able to pounce on the rebound for the goal.

Aside from the goal, Sestito still fared statistically better than his counterparts by finishing with an even rating and four hits in 11:29 of ice time. Weise had two hits and was minus-2 in 14:14. Pinizzotto was also minus-2, but managed four hits in 12:02.

Ebbett won 45% of his faceoffs and finished with an even rating in 16:39. By the account of Canucks Army’s Thomas Drance, he “didn’t have an awful game all things considered.” Is okay enough to warrant a spot in the lineup?

He is a serviceable and versatile player that can play a number of roles for the Canucks. Ebbett even tries to lay the body on the forecheck, but might not be any better than a part-time depth player that fills in for injured players since he brings no unique element to the lineup.

There’s a good chance the Canucks insert Schroeder into the fourth line centre position. We have seen Schroeder is not a liability in the defensive zone through 31 games this season and can play first line or fourth line.

Prior to being demoted on March 11, he played a chunk of games on the fourth line and played quite admirably. Schroeder managed to turn Dale Weise into a scoring threat and had fans clamoring for a promotion the top-nine.

The decision by Vigneault to use Schroeder might have been by design to see how he would acquit himself playing with some lesser talented players and whether his speed would be able to compliment pugnacity. He passed the test and the Canucks might use him there in the playoffs.

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Tags: 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Jordan Schroeder Tom Sestito Vancouver Canucks Zack Kassian

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