Last night the Golden Knights completed their 50th game of the season. Over the course of those 50 games, they’ve used 73 different forward line combinations.
For comparison, in the 56-game shortened season in 2021, the Golden Knights used just 53. The year before, when they played 71 games, they used 52.
On Wednesday, in Jack Eichel’s debut, the Golden Knights rolled out four brand new lines they had never used before. Last night they added another one as Eichel played with Stephenson and Pacioretty. As we stand right now, there have been 40 different line combinations that have been used for just a single game. On the other side, just eight combinations have been used for at least five games. Keegan Kolesar has played in 49 of Vegas’ 50 games. He’s played on a whopping 21 different lines.
Of course, most of this is injury-related as this year’s Golden Knights have rotated through 33 different skaters including seven making their NHL debuts and 16 their VGK debut. However, many of the Golden Knights’ injuries have been lengthy, which has meant they’ve had a similar group of 23 from game to game many different times.
Yet, the line shuffling has been the one constant for this group. Vegas has used an identical group of 12 forwards in back-to-back games just six times this season and the only time they’ve ever done it three games in a row, games two and three were a week apart, broken up by the All Star break.
It’s impossible to quantify exactly how this has affected the Golden Knights, but it’s pretty clear it has made life at least a bit more difficult on them. They currently sit with 60 points in 50 games, which fortunately is good enough for 2nd in the Pacific, but would have them in 5th in any of the league’s other three divisions.
The last three games have looked disjointed and inconsistent, especially in the offensive zone. Aside from the Misfit Line, who have played 33 games together (no other line has more than 15), chemistry both offensively and defensively has been hit-or-miss. There have been moments where individual lines have looked great, but fleeting is the only way to describe those moments.
Chemistry is crucial when playing against teams with similar or better talent than you. Vegas’ last seven losses have all come against teams currently sitting in playoff position. Meanwhile, just two of their last five wins have come against good teams.
Obviously, with Eichel in the fold, there are bound to be at least a few more line combinations adding to the massive number of 73. However, if the Golden Knights want to start adding consistency to their game, they should strive for at least a bit more consistency with their lines.
**To see every line combination the Golden Knights have used this season, click here.**