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Analyzing Usage Changes With Jack Eichel In VGK’s Lineup

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As expected, the moment Jack Eichel stepped into the Golden Knights lineup, certain things would change.

The most obvious was his role as top-line center which left Chandler Stephenson in need of a new position. At first, that was on Eichel’s left wing, but the last two games it’s been as 3C.

The next spot was on the power play. Eichel stepped right in on the half-wall to the goalie’s right on Vegas’ #1 unit. He’s played with a few different groups of players, and it appears they have found the right mix after Eichel’s game-winning snipe with 5.2 seconds left on the clock last night.

But one spot that may go under-recognized is the shift in usage that Eichel’s introduction to the lineup has caused. In his nine games as a Golden Knight, Eichel has seen just 30.3% of his shifts begin in the defensive zone. He’s taken 29 of his 115 faceoffs in the defensive zone, which has led to an increase in defensive responsibility for others.

The main group of “others” who have been shouldering that load has been The Misfits, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault.

Karlsson leads the team with 65 defensive zone draws taken since the Colorado game on February 16th, Eichel’s first. In fact, no one else is even close to Karlsson as Eichel, Stephenson, and Nic Roy, the next three in line, have combined for 81.

Prior to Eichel’s arrival, Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith each started about 54% of their shifts in the offensive zone. With it, they each posted a Corsi right around 55%. In the nine games with Eichel, The Misfits are all under 45% offensive zone starts (Karlsson’s is 43%), with their Corsi numbers staying about the same as a group.

Simply put, they’ve been asked to take on the brunt of the defensive work and they’ve still been able to thrive offensively, especially in the second game against Colorado, the two against San Jose and one in Anaheim.

It’s also heavily affected Alex Pietrangelo’s usage. Instead of spending most of his time playing with the top-six as he did prior to Eichel’s arrival, he’s seeing more time with the depth group. To this point, it has had a pretty significant effect on his production as he’s been on the ice for just five goals in the previous nine games, which equates to 1.85 per 60 minutes. In the 46 games before Eichel, Pietrangelo was on the ice for 2.69 goals per 60 minutes, nearly a full goal more.

Eichel and Pietrangelo have shared the ice for 47:43 in the nine games they’ve played together and the Golden Knights have yet to score or be scored against with the pair out there. In Eichel’s 83:48 without Pietrangelo though, he’s been on the ice for six goals for and just two against.

In the time they’ve played together, they’ve taken 24 offensive zone draws compared to just 11 defensive, yet they have been outshot significantly (23-15), have allowed eight high-danger chances while creating just three, and have a 41% expected goals share. All of these numbers are better for both Eichel and Pietrangelo when they’ve been away from each other.

Obviously, it’s only been nine games, so the sample sizes are limited across the board. But the early returns have shown that Pete DeBoer has taken an approach of lessening Eichel’s defensive responsibilities early on in exchange for upping the pressure in different areas on Karlsson, Marchessault, Smith, and Pietrangelo.

It’s worked for some, it hasn’t for others.




Film Breakdown: Why VGK Are Stagnant In The Offensive Zone


  1. I am going to scream if Petro unleashes one more easily blocked shot from the blue line with no VGK in front providing a screen! Is this the best PDB can strategize? Flinging pucks at the goalie hoping they rebound 10 to 20 feet away?


  2. I still don’t think that VGK has any wingers that can play on the first line with Eichel. Pacioretty is the closest but he missed at least 3 very easy setups from Jack in the first period alone.

    The VGK wingers are all decent 2nd or 3rd liners. Not a single top line winger on the roster.

  3. THE hockey GOD

    kings @ bruins

    we’ll find out how good the kings really are today

    • The Kings are pretty good right now. Likely first round opponents if things stay the way they are ie. VGK/LAK finish 2nd and 3rd any order.

  4. Daryl

    First of all, scoring 1 PP goal with 5 seconds left against a horrible team playing back to back and in a 5 game slide dies not mean they fixed the PP.

    Secondly, not that Eichel is bad at defense, but he is here for offense so it makes since his numbers increase when they start in the offensive zone. As for Petra, his offense is missing so it doesn’t matter when or when he plays, but if you need an uncontested shit from the blueline, he’s your man

  5. Chris

    So is this:
    1) Easing Eichel into the lineup without forcing too much defensive zone coverage? I’m sure defensive responsibilities are the biggest system change Eichel needs to adapt to.
    2) Protecting Eichel based on his recovery?
    3) Partially saying something about Eichel’s defensive play? I must admit, he didn’t seem too aggressive against OTT in his 1-1-3 assignments. On the other hand, I’ve seen him backcheck well in other situations, although no one would call him a Selke candidate the way he did.

  6. THE hockey GOD

    10 dollars a gallon gasoline
    everything he has done
    has hurt the working class, this is what happens when
    you steal an election.

    what a POS

    • Also, liberals who believe that electric vehicles is the future in America need to take a look at the supply and removal chain. The damage to the environment to procure the materials and manufacture the batteries is devastating on the front end, but is even more so on the back end. Maybe, after they realize this they will promote a return to horse and buggy?

      • THE hockey GOD

        not to mention the cost for hazardous waste disposal of used battery parts.

        • knights fan in minny

          the left is hell bent on electric i have read over the past couple of weeks thieves are stealing the copper out of the charging stations

    • knights fan in minny

      blunder joe sucks

  7. THE hockey GOD

    this road trip will make or break the VGK

    • How about a little common sense on just electric vehicles.
      #1 It is unrealistic without major changes in transportation. Electric vehicles cannot transport goods or tow heavy loads.
      #2 The infrastructure upgrades in communities across the nation will have to be substantially modernized in order to handle the charging of electric vehicles.
      #3 Every home will need to be upgraded to handle the charging of electric vehicles.
      #4 Tens of thousands of charging stations will need to be manufactured, deployed and installed across the nation including the upgrades to the electrical distribution grid to support them.
      #5 There isn’t enough raw materials or manufacturing plants available in the USA to produce the number of vehicles to support a transition from gas and diesel.
      The above is just a short list of issues that make this part of the Green New Deal dumb. We have the dumbest leaders in the Democrat Party in all of human history. Economically dumb, scientifically dumb.

      • THE hockey GOD

        we are on agreement on all points

        can you imagine in the next ground war vehicles
        run out of battery charge 100 miles after starting and have
        to wait 8 hours to charge back up ?

        it doesn’t make sense on all fronts.

        emissions ?? you still HAVE emissions where the electricity is produced.

        liberalism is surely a mental disorder – best selling title on NY TIMES.

      • Erik

        It all makes sense when you understand that they are trying to drastically reduce the population in various ways. Then only the rich will be able to drive.

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