Whenever you attempt to analyze any playoff series in any sport, you’re going to be looking for certain intangibles, the little things that could make the difference between winning and losing.
As the Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks prepare to renew acquaintances in the postseason beginning Wednesday at the SAP Center, this time in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s a couple of words to ponder:
One is “depth.”
The other is “balance.”
Both teams have sufficient quantities of each. The Sharks have managed to compete without Erik Karlsson, their all-star defenseman, for a couple of stretches this season. But he’s back and his presence will undoubtedly be felt.
San Jose also has the ability to hurt you with all four of its lines. And with that in mind, we are examining the bottom-six depth of both teams’ forwards and the fourth line in particular.
Interestingly, there are a few similarities. The Knights have used different wingers on the left side to work with center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and right wing Ryan Reaves. And whether it has been Ryan Carpenter, William Carrier or Tomas Nosek, the Vegas fourth line hardly misses a beat.
I think everyone’s comfortable with each other. We talk on the ice and on the bench and everyone is on the same page. -Bellemare
The Sharks have also used different people on their fourth line. According to our good friend Sheng Peng who covers the Sharks for FearTheFin.com, Peter DeBoer has used a mix of Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson, Micheal Haley and have also used Joonas Donskoi, Lukas Radil and Dylan Gambrell though it’s doubtful the last two will see action. If Timo Meier’s injured left wrist has improved enough for him to play, he’s likely to be in the mix as well.
Like Gerard Gallant, DeBoer is blessed with some options for his fourth line. For Gallant, he’ll let the players decide who plays.
“‘ve always said that — the players determine who plays, not the coach. Whoever is playing the best will be in the lineup. -Gallant
That’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. Carpenter has played very well. Same for Nosek. Carrier has been his usual self since he came back a couple of weeks ago, throwing his body around and using his speed to help on the forecheck.
We have a great group of guys. Nobody’s going to complain about who plays and who doesn’t. It’s all about winning. -Carpenter.
Of course, Reaves is in the spotlight. When the two teams met on March 30 at SAP Center, he was right in the middle of everything. He will be Public Enemy No. 1 with the Sharks’ fans. But if you think he’s going to be dropping the gloves every game, guess again.