Many times in the NHL the top two lines and the goalie get all the credit, but if not for the hard work of the third- and fourth-line players there would be no success.
These players are typically the physical, penalty-killing, high-intensity players that set the tone for a single game, or even an entire playoff series.
Let's look at the 16 best third- and fourth-line players in hockey.
Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton is a physical player whose veteran leadership was crucial to the Bruins' Stanley Cup championship last season.
Thornton's physical play in Game 3 of the series set the tone for the Bruins. He is also a great penalty killer, and can be very aggressive without taking penalties.
Maxime Talbot spent all of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins before moving to the Philadelphia Flyers this summer.
Talbot is a good defensive forward who can add goals as well. He's also reliable on the penalty kill.
Darren Helm is a fantastic player for the Detroit Red Wings, and adds offense and great speed (top three in NHL for sure) to the bottom lines.
Helm scored 12 goals with 20 assists last season.
Vladimir Sobotka is a tremendous penalty killer and plays the game with a physical edge.
He also is not a bad offensive player, and seven goals and 22 assists is not bad production from a fourth-line guy.
He's a valuable member of the Blues.
Gregory Campbell was an important penalty killer for the Bruins last season, and his offensive skills are soild as well.
Campbell scored 13 goals with 16 assists last season, and is a very physical player who isn't afraid to drop the gloves and fight.
His skating ability helps him be a very good two-way forward.
Brian Boyle is a good offensive player whose improvement will surely help the New York Rangers this season.
Boyle scored 21 goals and 14 assists last season, and picked up a goal and an assist in the Rangers' recent preseason loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Paul Gaustad is a solid defensive player for the Buffalo Sabres, and is a great leader.
He scored 12 goals and dished out 19 assists for 31 points last season, and is an important two-way forward for the Sabres.
Jannick Hansen is a good offensive player for the Vancouver Canucks, and was given meaningful minutes in the 2011 NHL Playoffs.
He scored nine goals with 20 assists last season, and due to injuries or his good play, he could be a fixture on the Canucks third line this season.
Mike Rupp is a physical player the New York Rangers will be glad they brought in over the summer.
He sets the tone with his aggressive play, and can kill penalties as well.
He won't score a ton of goals, but he did have 17 points last season on nine goals and eight assists.
Drew Miller is a good skating forward who helps form the best offensive fourth line in hockey for the Detroit Red Wings.
Miller scored 10 goals with eight assists last season, and also has good speed.
Daniel Paille is one of the best skating fourth-liners in the NHL, and is an elite penalty killer as well.
His offensive skills are very good too, and due to injuries in the 2010 NHL Playoffs, Paille played on the Bruins first line multiple times.
He scored six goals with seven assists for Boston last season.
When healthy Jordan Staal is a very good NHL center, and in only 42 games last season he scored 11 goals and dished out 19 assists.
Staal is a good skater with excellent passing ability, and can be counted on to score goals as well. If he's healthy next year along with Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins will be much better this year.
Dave Bolland is a good skater who adds offensive skill to the Chicago Blackhawks third line.
He scored 15 goals and dished out 22 assists for 37 points last season, and is also a physical presence and a leader on the ice.
Derek Stepan had a real impressive season for the New York Rangers last season, scoring 21 goals with 24 assists for 45 points.
The Rangers are hoping the 21-year-old can improve further this season and not go through a sophomore slump, but he certainly has loads of talent, especially offensively.
Mason Raymond is a good two-way player for the Vancouver Canucks who has good speed and is gifted offensively.
He scored 15 goals and dished out 24 assists for 39 points last season.
He suffered a vertebrae injury in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last season and should be out until at least November.
Brooks Laich is a good offensive player, scoring 16 goals with 32 assists for 48 points last season.
He is also a physical player, and gives some much-needed intensity to the Washington Capitals. Laich's play this season will really help Washington if he becomes an even better offensive player.