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3rd Line Desperately Needs A Shakeup

The Golden Knights 3rd line this season has been an absolute disaster.

And that’s putting it politely.

Six games with Pirri-Eakin-Glass. Four games with Pirri-Stastny-Zykov. Three games with Zykov-Eakin-Glass. Three games with Nosek-Eakin-Glass. One game with Pirri-Eakin-Stone.

That’s 17 games, and those 3rd lines amassed a total of one goal. A single goal scored by Cody Glass against the Calgary Flames, which if this were soccer, would have been an own goal credited to Mark Giordano.

Individually, it doesn’t look much better.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Cody Glass – 18 games, 3 goals, 7 points*
Tomas Nosek – 17 games, 3 goals, 4 points**
Cody Eakin – 14 games, 0 goals, 3 points
Brandon Pirri – 10 games, 0 goals, 1 point
Valentin Zykov – 7 games, 0 goals, 2 points

*Glass played four games on the 2nd line. He scored one goal and had two assists in those games
**All three of Nosek’s goals were scored shorthanded or with the 4th line

But they aren’t supposed to be an offensive line. Right? That’s the bill of goods that’s been sold since the Golden Knights installed Eakin as the 3rd line center midway through the 2017-18 season.

Well, they aren’t good defensively either.

Eakin ranks as one of the 15 worst forwards with at least 100 minutes played this season with a 41.3% Corsi. He’s the 21st worst skater in the NHL at shot percentage at 40.8%, and he ranks in at least the 200th worst of 292 NHL forwards in goals against per 60, expected goals against per 60, and scoring chances against per 60. He’s been less than stellar in the faceoff circle winning at just a 46.4% clip, the worst of any Golden Knight with at least 100 draws. He has a -7 +/- rating, the worst of any Golden Knight. He’s one of four VGK skaters with a 0.0 defensive point shares number (the other three are Tuch, Roy and Bischoff who have played a combined 10 games). And, he’s registered just three takeaways, the least of any player with at least eight games played.

Pirri is right there with Eakin in all of the advanced stat numbers with a Corsi of 42.2%, shot percentage of 36.4%, and an expected goals for percentage of 41.8%. He’s been on the ice for just two goals while allowing five, and that’s including his 28:16 of power play time. He’s a -3, and has a -0.2 point share number which means if you simply subtracted Pirri and Eakin from the roster completely stats say they’d be almost half a point better in the standings.

Zykov has been equally as miserable across the board, but with him suspended and likely not coming back, I won’t even waste your time.

Glass and Nosek have slightly better numbers than the rest, but that’s mainly because they’ve played on other lines. To simplify it, when playing with Eakin and/or Pirri, both Glass and Nosek’s numbers dip drastically across the board and as a whole those two rank among the Golden Knights bottom five forwards in all “relative” possession numbers.

Oh, and if you add them all up, these five players have taken a total of 14 minor penalties while drawing only nine (Glass has drawn four of the nine).

To continue the illustration, let me borrow some tweets from other members of the media.

So, to summarize, a line centered by Cody Eakin with Cody Glass on one side and Brandon Pirri, Tomas Nosek, or Valentin Zykov on the other will not only be subpar defensively, but they also won’t chip in any offense at all what-so-ever.

Yet here we are, nearly a quarter of the way through the season, and the third line has remained essentially the same throughout. Since Eakin’s return in game five of the year, he’s been the 3rd line center every game. Glass has been on his wing in all but one of those 14 games, and since Zykov’s suspension, Nosek and Pirri have essentially rotated back and forth and neither has produced a single point while doing so.

Enough is enough. It’s time for a change. Any change.

It was bad enough that Glass is playing out of his natural position to start, but now that there aren’t any positive results to point to in order to justify it, it just looks foolish.

Step one should be obvious. No more Eakin as 3rd line center. If Gallant trusts Glass enough to do it, it should be him, if he doesn’t, Nosek or Roy would be hardpressed to be worse than what they’ve gotten thus far. Then, fill in the wingers in a way that compliments whichever center is chosen. If it’s Glass, go with offensive options like Pirri, Nosek, or even Carrier. If it’s Roy or Nosek, maybe lean more towards a chip and chase style.

Next, try to establish an identity as a line. The 3rd lines thus far have lacked one. They seem to be disjointed in how they prefer to enter the zone. They are not particularly proficient in either the offensive or defensive zone, and they can’t seem to decide whether they want to forecheck or control the neutral zone.

Finally, at the very least, start winning shifts more regularly. Winning a shift doesn’t necessarily mean scoring a goal or even creating a chance, it means getting off the ice when you want to, rather than when you have to. The VGK 4th line does this all the time. They spend copious amounts of time in the offensive zone, albeit along the boards, but when the puck comes out, the opposing team is forced to dump it in and change, setting the game up nicely for the next trio coming on. This helps maintain an aggressive forecheck, it puts pressure on opposing defensemen, and it often leads to scoring chances. The 3rd line hasn’t done it enough.

There are 100 different ways they can go with three (four if you include Stastny) center options and seven wing options just for the 3rd line alone.

My preference is Carrier-Glass-Pirri on the 3rd line and Nosek-Eakin-Roy on the 4th, but at this point, any significant change should be welcomed.

19 games in, the Golden Knights have been consistently inconsistent as a team. But if there’s one thing that has been a constant, it’s the 3rd line’s lack of production. The 20th game won’t be any different, and it’s come to the point where it would be insane to believe otherwise.

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31 Comments

  1. I like Carrier, Glass and Pirri as the third line. I hope Gallant gives Glass a chance to center the line. Carrier can skate and provide some speed and muscle. I love Pirri but he seems to be another MIA player this year. I don’t know if he will be a fit there. He is more of a top six, go to the net kinda player.
    But you’re right, something has to be done. This line has been a mess since last year and I was hoping Gusev was the answer but what do I know….I guess they’re still looking….

  2. only 1 Cody per team

    Eakin should not be on the 4th line either. He should be GONE !!

    wasted $3.8 mill cap hit

    don’t just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Get new, better deck chairs

  3. Darren T

    You are not factoring Tuch return as early as Wed ? Whats your take on his timeline to return and crank the 3rd line and PP 1 or 2 ?

    • Until I have an indication that Tuch will return to the lineup I have to assume he will not. However, even with him back the main point stands, they need a new 3rd line center.

      • Glass would shift to centre . You are close to the team – whats the word on Tuch returning for Wed or does it appear further time needed

  4. Russell Martin

    I would like to see Carrier-Glass-Pirri 3rd line and Reaves-Roy-Nosek 4th

  5. DOC Williams

    Yes I agree on 3rd line situation. BUT: Not any mention of how Tucks injury has contributed tremendously to this. When he is back, the move should be to put Glass back into his natural CENTER spot. A nice compliment to those two would be Carrier. He will add speed, hustle & muscle. Then if all stay healthy, give them TIME to play & gel. I don’t know what the hell you do with Eakin??? Move him in a trade would make sense. (maybe get a solid “D” player for him). Perri is not a 200 ft. player. (kinda like James Neal, he is a “sniper”), that’s about it. SO finally: you just can’t make a logical assessment of 3rd line, with all the combinations that have been thrown out there.

    • Truth

      If Eakin is as bad as everyone is making him out to be, with his cap hit we will have to give up talent or picks in order to trade him away. We aren’t getting anything in return.

      If we don’t want a guy on our team, what makes you think another team does?

      I personally like Eakin on the team but am worried about how he’s playing.

  6. The rest of the lines aren’t doing much better, remind me again how many points did their big guy get on this past road trip ? (hint , close your eyes what do you see?)

    (maybe ticket prices will finally start coming down to earth !)

    The cap space has been killing this franchise – lost too many goal scorers , as well lack of depth, they have no one in minors (ready to play )

    Not to say, untimely gaffes by their goalies, hasn’t helped.

    Nor turn overs early in the game.

    Nor the fact that they seem to lose “ice acumen” at the most unlikely times (e.g. what was no. 3 thinking about going for that knee high pass on that last goal?)

    Whole team is playing like they have the “vegas flu” !!

    • Top six scored 7 goals in 4 games on the trip. Maybe 1 short of their expected output but certainly not a problem. 0 goals from bottom six or defensemen.

      • Jeff

        7 goals? The whole team had 7 goals 1 of which short handed and 1 was a PPG. So the top 2 lines had 5 goals in 4 games.

      • Skeeter Thompson

        My ideal 3rd line would include a certain 27 yr-old Russian who’s on pace for 22 goals and could’ve been signed by simply trading Eakin and not re-signing Pirri.

        That would make the 3rd line very dangerous when Tuch is healthy:
        Tuch-Glass-Gusev

        Or, for Gusev skeptics, VGK chose both Reaves and Eakin over Haula (who wanted to be here and is tearing it up in Carolina). If VGK kept Haula, let Gusev walk and traded Eakin, we could have:
        Tuch-Glass-Haula

        Sounds heavenly.

  7. Eric Magnuson

    My Ideal 3 rd line Perri- Glass- Tuch

  8. DOC Williams

    I obviously am missing SOMETHING about Perri????? Please, somebody educate me on this guy! Ken, anyone? (I just don’t see much) “DOC”

  9. Chase

    I believe it would be a waiver issue, but why not a McKenzie anywhere? Pirri brings nothing at this point and neither does Eakin. Granted Eakin isn’t tradeable either other, than a salary dump, which I think is better earlier than later to accrue more cap space before trade deadline.

    I’d like to see 28-9-92 or McKenzie and 92/McKenzie-10-75 until Tuch comes back. At that time Tuch is in line three and Nosek into line 4. I’ve loved what Roy has brought and believe he shouldn’t be moved. Trading Eakin, even for nothing, is the best move at this point. Same with Pirri. Nothing to lose.

    • Buckeye63

      I believe the same thing. Eakin hasn’t done anything this year to warrant an extension after this season. Dump him now for some draft picks and get something in return for down the road. He’s probably going to walk come time for FA.

  10. stats

    former VGK—-

    Neal 12 goals
    Haula 8 goals
    Perron 8 goals, 10 assts, 3 OT game winners, and a Stanley cup

    even Brad Hunt, who was a fill-in dman with Vgk, has 5 goals and 5 assts

    meanwhile Theodore has 1 goal and Nate has 1

    and how bad are the Knights at even strength?? only 2 reg players are plus on the entire team, Smith and Karlsson each +4 …..
    and Roy is +1

  11. Miles

    Like to see Glass at center. I’d prefer Carrier and Nosek as his wings – obviously only until Tuch returns. Pirri has been just as impressive as Eakin to this point – which is to say he’s been garbage. Reaves/Eakin/Roy as a 4th line, but honestly I think I prefer Roy as a center there too. Really don’t see a spot for Eakin on this team. Not sure why he wasn’t traded in the offseason after putting up career numbers.

  12. Bent Hermit

    I would like to see Roy-Glass-Pirri. Roy has been impressive with his D zone play and the way he makes plays in the O zone. He has shown signs that he can carry the puck into the O zone. If he had better line mates I think there would have been more goals. It also puts another center on that line. He’s better than Carrier at playing D. When Tuch comes back it would give Glass 2 big and fast wingers that can win battles on the boards and make plays. The bad would be 2 rookies on 1 line and Roy is a right shot. The good would be that they would have over 60 games to figure things out. When they do figure it out they could be a really good line. Plus both Glass and Roy will have improved their game a lot in that time.

  13. Vic

    It’s a bigger issue than the horrible line 3. The thrill is gone, and we’re now in the mediocre category. Penalties and goals against are moving into the dismal category. Too many problems to list, and changes need to be made…or we become like the So. Cal. teams. When Tuch gets back, let’s do this….
    Line 2 = 67/9/61
    Line 3 = 28/26/89
    Line 4 = All centers 92/21/10
    Defense = Rotate the young guys in more often
    Goalies = Start thinking about the future
    Coaching staff = Look out
    Message to team = Watch what #19 is doing and copy him

  14. CouchGM

    Glass needs to play center, and Gallant/VGK is doing him a massive disservice, almost to the point of sabotaging his growth, by placing him on Eakin’s wing. Moving him up to the second every now and then can’t hurt production, and would actually give a nice stability to a 3rd line (Stastny) if you’re running Pirri at any point.

    Also, to those calling to trade Eakin… He has lost any value at this point, so you’re not getting much. During the off-season VGK could have gotten a D upgrade (package him, Miller, and a pick for someone, for instance) or a decent draft pick. As it stands, you’d be lucky to get a bag of used pucks. So he isn’t going anywhere. (although, the Ducks went and gave a prospect to take the load known as Gudbranson from the Pens, so maybe teams don’t see it the same way?)

    When Tuch is back, Carrier/Glass/Tuch makes the most sense to me. Eakin manages to be just useful enough on the PK to warrant his inclusion, but at this point in the season, with what he’s shown, he’s at best 4th-line material. Nosek/Eakin/Reaves for more physical teams, and Nosek/Eakin/Roy for other purposes.

  15. Brent T

    First NHL game I attended was Sunday’s game against Detroit (2/3 of it was enjoyable). It was late in the game but there was a shift where Glass took the faceoff and appeared to be centering. I noticed one thing with Glass at center though and that was Pirri actually took shots (wide every time sadly but still attempts). I would have loved to have seen more of that than losing offensive possession when the third line was on the ice though.

  16. If Coyotes (@Washington) continue forward and win this game, does that mean they are better than the VGK ??? (look out ). Opps now 3-2, Caps only down by 1 and Coyotes, also have issues holding onto lead in period no. 3 (blown a lead in four straight games !) .

    Check back in 20 minutes.

  17. Alan H.

    Good run down. Couple that with the fact that in year 1, announcers routinely said that Vegas was the hardest working team in hockey. Hasn’t been said in year 2 and not ever thought of in year 3. They need to again become the hardest working team in hockey. The West is theirs but the desire this year is not evident. Players went from skating to get a good paycheck to now getting big contracts and many are now skating to skate. Line 1 hasn’t blown the doors off either. Karlsson needs to show up routinely and consistently. Smith is the only one that works every night on that line. 62% of all goals have been scored from Smith, Stone, Pacioretty and Stastney. The 2nd line is the 1st. Call them that. The new 2nd line needs to be better. 3rd line is ineffective and 4th stirs things up and is effective. And don’t even start me on defense. Replace Engelland, Merrill and Pirri. Last, practice winning the faceoff. Puck possession and goals come from that. We suck at that.

  18. Ron

    Need a line of carrier glass tuch

  19. Ron

    I just bought $400 worth of Cody Glass rookie cards. Play the kid at center where he has been successful at every level

  20. THE hockey GOD

    UPDATE- oh no !
    Wild Card (last playoff spots in WEST)
    1 Vancouver
    2 Winnipeg
    3 Vegas

    • Update: The playoffs do not start until April.

      Standings do not matter at this point.

    • Branden

      Calm down. All three have 21 points and it is November. I don’t think the canucks can continue to play this well all season, nor do I expect the Knights to play this poorly.

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