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Bruce Cassidy Details His Ideal Minute And Role Distribution Among Forward Lines

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Every coach at every level in the sport of hockey wants to balance minutes equally across the entire lineup. In a perfect world, the coach could just sit back and roll four lines keeping everyone fresh and ready to play at the highest level in their next shift.

But, the NHL is not a utopia and the divide between high-end players and everyone else often causes an imbalance of ice time.

I don’t know that you should have guys up in the 20’s (minutes) that are forwards. Are you getting maximum value out of them if they are over 20 every night for 82 games? We’ll see how that plays out and how the guys who are used to that manage that. If they can pull it off and give you maximum play then I’ll change the way I think. -Bruce Cassidy

Same goes on the flip side.

We shouldn’t have anybody under 10 minutes a night. If this team is functioning as we see it, I think that 4th line would be closer to 12 minutes because they are going to play against good people, get D-zone starts, and play on the PK. -Cassidy

Historically, VGK have used their 3rd and 4th lines in checking roles, but often would see their usage sheltered with offensive zone starts and/or favorable matchups. Cassidy wants his 3rd line of William Karlsson, Brett Howden, and Michael Amadio to operate as a strong defensive line with the 4th line also taking some of the most difficult minutes.

That’s defending, that’s penalty kill, the hard minutes. We have to be careful with guys over the course of the year because of fatigue, injury, and maybe age. -Cassidy

The challenge for Cassidy though will be the abilities of the players in the bottom-six in regards to holding up to the rigors of what he called “stressful minutes.”

Karlsson is obviously used to playing a strong 200-foot game and has been tasked with anchoring the Golden Knights defensively in any and every situation. But Amadio, Howden, Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier, Paul Cotter, and to a degree Nic Roy have not.

Cassidy wants, and needs, his bottom-six to take on penalty kill time if he is going to keep everyone between 10-20 minutes. He thinks he has enough guys who can do it, and if not, he’ll find them.

I do (think we have enough bottom-six guys who can penalty kill) and we’re going to build some if they don’t. That’s part of our job as coaches. Part of the reason you do that is they feel like they are a bigger part of the team as well. When you’ve got everybody feeling like they are a bigger part of the team then they’ll play better as a team. Now, they have to get the job done so there will be some growing pains for guys that we are building into it but we’re hopeful we’re teaching them properly and they are committed to it so we can ease off some of the minutes of some other guys. -Cassidy

At 5-on-5 though, the new head coach expressed concerns about the play of the 4th line after an up-and-down effort in the preseason against Arizona.

Right now our 4th line isn’t anywhere close to where it needs to be if they are going to contribute major minutes to our team in terms of that sort of shutdown role and identity line. We still have a couple of games to figure that out but to me right now that is something we have to correct. -Cassidy

It’s clear Cassidy has a plan of how he wants his team to look and how he plans on deploying the lines to get it there. At the moment, the question remains whether or not the Golden Knights have the personnel to do it.

There’s still time to figure it out, but that time is running out quickly.




Goalie Interference – Season 2 Episode 1 – October 5, 2022


    • THE hockey GOD

      cody glass’s bad attitude with the silver kites got him a ticket out of town
      in a very bad trade by FO; but I suppose a few people in league didn’t know about
      his bad attitude or they are willing to take a risk and square him away.

    • I love understanding what the coach is thinking and his strategy! I how it doesn’t assist other teams, obviously there are many GMs and coaches that think it gives the opponents an advantage.

  1. Blitz

    I don’t hate the plan. It is interesting. I am not very optimistic that he will achieve it, with the 4th line being the weakness. I think L3 can do it. Wild B is the center to do it and Howden is pretty good on the PK. Amadio is probably the defensive weak link on that line, but I am sure he will figure it out given coaching and ice time. Something to watch. What does it mean if they fail? Trades, call ups etc?

    I know Peter wanted to achieve something that had to do with bottom 6 guys on the pk, but I am not sure how that worked out. The whole team got injured and the rest is a fuzzy memory.

  2. Pistol Pete

    So until Carrier comes back looks like the 4th is Cotter/Roy/Kolesar.

  3. Hmmm, the salary imbalance speaks volume as to how this team is built.

    Last year I made some bold predictions about the VGK and the goaltending situation. In hindsight, my predictions came true. It was a pretty good evaluation of the VGK overall. Injuries aside, even if the VGK had made the playoffs last year they would have likely not lasted the 1st round even without the injury excuse.

    My predictions for the Golden Age 6th Season?

    1. The VGK won’t make the playoffs this year. They are looking at 4th place in the Pacific.
    2. I believe Logan Thompson will establish himself as the legitimate #1 in net, which bodes well for the future rebuilding effort.
    3. Mark Stone won’t play many games this year. I’ve had back issues myself and I simply cannot see how Mark will be able to play at such a high level given this injury.
    4. Jack Eichel has a lot of talent, there is no doubt about that. At his salary he should be wearing the “C”, but that’s not going to happen. Eichel will play well, but he’s not going to enough. This team is no longer built for a Cup run. The only reason that the VGK has a shot to make the playoffs at all is Jack Eichel and that first line. Eichel’s got a long term deal and that is going to make a rebuild that much harder next year.
    5. VGK will likely be a seller at the trade deadline. Look for some big names and talent to be moved for picks and prospects for the rebuild.

    I know this is negative. I wish it wasn’t because I am a Season Ticket Holder. I just am being honest about my feelings and analysis. So, go ahead and pile on now and we will revisit this at the trade deadline. I’ll eat my words if I’m wrong.

    • THE hockey GOD

      the team has nucleus of good veteran players
      in Stone, petro -d, marty- d, mcnab-d , smith, stephenson, kessel, theodore-d, marchy,
      karlson, Eichel- those alone are good enough. Ten , Whitecloud -d , eleven (edited)
      With back up in Whitecloud-d, Roy, ahem kolosar, and carrier as the next level. I would put Whitecloud up a notch into first batch; but he’s still young. Never mind I will move him up. He’s decent, most nights.

      Howden and amadio are next up, and they are not that bad. They haven’t punched through yet. Maybe they never will. They need a 6th man at D, be it hutton, or one of AHL rookies to step up.

      HAgue is doing the team no favors, as we know, by holding out. The team could really use a sixth D man. So far they don’t have one.
      The finnish guy is unique, he can play in AHL without being exposed to waivers according to the big talking head, lawless or is it order ?

      Goalie position will make it or break it , in my opinion.

      • I’d give that huge Zach Hayes #65 a shot on D in lieu of Hague. He is as big and has been evaluated as a good stay-at-home defenseman.


    • Vic

      RR….Hard to disagree with your analysis. Number 5 has to happen, and hopefully it is done when there is still some value.

    • You don’t believe injuries impacted the outcome of last season?

  4. FG

    If I am correct, Ken has beat the drum for bottom six guys who can PK. It must be music to his ears. Roy can PK but he makes a lot of money for a 4th line center. Maybe pair him with Howden on the PK. But Carrier and Kolesar don’t fit that role. I could see them all go at or prior to the trade deadline along with Martinez.

  5. THE hockey GOD

    i don’t see the coach going to his third and fourth lines if the team is winning in third period by slight margin.

    Then again, I would prefer to wait and see who actually is on the third and fourth lines. I like idea of moving some of top six down into the 3rd and 4th lines late in game.


  6. MARK

    The bottom line about the VGK this year and how well they do is very very simple. This team will ONLY go as far as Mark Stone, Jack Eichel and Phil Kessel takes them. Everyone else on this roster outside of the top 3 and Alex Pietrangelo are role players and complimentary pieces. As far as goaltending goes, they have Logan Thompson who is good but still young, Adin Hill sucks and Laurent Brossoit sucks too. I do like Michael Hutchinson but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get a legitimate chance, so basically if Thompson doesn’t hold up it’s good bye Golden Knights very very early on. Keep in mind too that the Pacific Division got much better this year too. So if Vegas doesn’t watch out, we could be at the very bottom of the division. Eichel and Stone MUST stay healthy to have any real chance this year!!! I hope for the best.

  7. Keep your top players healthy! I love it. When we get to the important games we can rule out key players on the pk.

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