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Does Cassidy Mix Up His Forward Lines Too Often? (Part 1)

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have scored 103 goals at 5-on-5 this season. That’s 2.02 per game, ranking them 21st in the NHL. Over the past 36 games, that number drops to 1.83 per game, the 7th worst in the league.

Even-strength scoring has been a huge reason why the Golden Knights have not been winning games and recently much of the focus has turned to head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Many believe Cassidy is too hasty in his willingness to mix up the line combinations. Personally, I can see both sides of the argument. Clearly, the results were much better at the start of the year when the lines stayed consistent, however, there’s no doubt the injuries and recent poor performances of the top six have majorly forced Cassidy’s hand.

During the All Star break, I plan on putting in a bunch of research to hopefully allow us to better understand the impact of line flux on this group of VGK forwards. Today, we focus on quantity of line combinations.

Vegas has rolled out 47 different forward line combinations over the course of their first 51 games. Only three have seen more than 10 games together while 16 have been one-and-done. These numbers are actually well short of what Pete DeBoer deployed last season. DeBoer used 108 over the 82 game season, only had two that made it to 20+ games, and had 52 that played a single game together. Here are the numbers for VGK’s first five and a half seasons.

Lines UsedLines/GameForwards Used20+ Games10+1

Cassidy and DeBoer certainly mixed up the lines a lot more than Gerard Gallant did in his time with the Golden Knights. Amazingly, the first season, which had the most uncertainty around it, led to the fewest number of line combinations per game while using 30 different skaters.

An important year to look at is 20-21 when VGK played just 56 games. They only used 18 players yet rolled out 53 different line combinations. That team fought through COVID, injuries, and salary cap gymnastics the entire season, but ended up tied with the best record in the NHL. Of course, they did play one of the easiest schedules in modern-day NHL history.

To me, there’s more to glean about coaching styles than actual impact on performance by switching the lines around from these numbers. Cassidy and DeBoer mix them up a lot, Gallant didn’t. As far as team results have gone, all three have similar regular season numbers, though Cassidy is going to have to pick it back up to stay on track with his two predecessors.

Individually, it sure looks a little clearer that the more consistent a player is on his line, the more consistent performances he’ll give.

Games PlayedDifferent Line CombosSingle Game

Obviously, Jack Eichel jumps to the forefront here. Of his 42 games, 21 of them were played with Stephenson and Stone, another six were with Smith and Kessel and three more with Stephenson and Amadio, the rest were all single-game lines. Despite playing with eight fewer line combinations than Phil Kessel, Eichel has seen his line disintegrate after one game more often than Kessel.

During the current cold streak in which he has one point and zero goals in his last eight games, Eichel has played with five different lineup combinations. That being said, Cassidy did stick with one (Stephenson-Eichel-Amadio) for three consecutive games, and Eichel went pointless.

Kessel’s 18 different combinations are certainly staggering as well. His season has been up and down as has his usage on those lines. Typically he’s used in an offensive role, but many of those 18 combos have leaned more defensive. That will clearly impact any player’s performance and it certainly has for Phil. Again though, his most consistent lines have not necessarily translated into the most success. He has three lines with which he played six or seven games and his numbers mimic his season averages in those games.

Amadio, Cotter, Stephenson, Rondbjerg, and Leschyshyn are all in the top 10 in most different lineup combos, and unsurprisingly, each of their seasons have been inconsistent as well.

All in all, there’s definitely data here to say the more change a player sees the more inconsistent they become. But, there’s a massive chicken or the egg scenario at play that must be considered. Is the performance poor because the coach keeps changing the lines or does the coach keep changing the lines because the performance is poor?

As of right now, I don’t have that answer, but the research on this topic is far from done. (But it is done for this article.)




“The Question Is Just When” VGK Will Make A Trade Deadline Add


  1. DOCDG

    Since you are looking at stats I thought I would post this.

    Logan Thompson, some interesting stats on his win/loss record this year. All of the goal numbers below refer to goals scored in regulation, not OT or Shootout.

    When the team scores 0 to 3 goals in regulation his record is 7 wins and 16 losses.
    He is 12 and 0 when the team scores 4 or more goals in regulation.
    His overall record as of today is 19 wins 16 losses. (13 regulation 3 OT & SO)

    In EVERY one of the 16 losses he has this year the team scored 3 or fewer goals before overtime. (and we scored 3 in only 2 of the losses)

    My takeaway on this is that we have a very good rookie goaltender who needs one of 2 things.
    1.Better score support in front of him which is most of his problem this year.
    2 He needs to figure out how to win a few more games when his team only scores 1, 2 or 3 goals. I believe that the second will come over time with experience.

    I took a quick look at the same thing for Hill without running the numbers and it looks very much the same.

    Goaltending isn’t our problem this year, scoring particularly in very tight low scoring games is.

    • TS

      DOC, great observations. His Wins when the guys score4+ goals is The stats are pretty clear: MORE SCORING, PLEASSSSSSSSEEEEEE!!! I feel LT has done pretty well defending, considering the way the team has played. Time to MAN UP and score!

  2. Emmanuel

    I think most of the shuffling (which I think is NOT a bad thing) is due to the obsession with creating a 3rd line./rollinf 4 lines. The 4th line should be named the 3rd line and the 4th used sparingly. PKessel should be on the 4th line and the 2nd PP unit along with guys like Amadio and Leschy and Howden. There isnt depth to roll 4 lines even when healthy.

  3. knights fan in minny

    a sad day in hockey with the passing of the golden jet

  4. Vic

    Yes. RIP Bobby Hull. Great memories seeing him live flying around the ice and then the slap shot.

    By the way….Leschy is on the Rangers now.

  5. Herby

    The biggest scoring issue is that we had to trade Tuch and Patches for no. 9.

    Currently no. 9 scores on 11% of his shots, which is ABOVE his NHL average of 10.5%. Which means it will most probably get worse from here.

    The shuffling is made to get no. 9 going…but he is already over performing….

  6. knights fan in minny

    hovart to the islanders

  7. Rick Schoen

    Sorry to hear of the loss of Bobby Hull. I got into hockey watching the Blackhawks play during my school years in Chicago. I remember almost putting a golf ball through his Porsche on day on the golf course.

  8. VGK Fan

    Congrats, to Chandler Stephenson on making his 1st all star game.

  9. Henderson One

    Rumor has Stone out for year and perhaps his career has ended. Has anyone heard what his true status is? He is sorely missed by this team.

    • THE hockey GOD

      link for rumor ?? None to be found.

      Here is latest on internet

      Out through All-Star break
      January 24, 2023
      Stone (back) won’t return before the All-Star break, Danny Webster of the Las Vegas Sun reports.
      Stone is dealing with a back issue that is apparently different from the one that kept him out for a 26-game stretch last season. He has registered 17 goals, 38 points, 113 shots on net and 31 hits in 43 contests this campaign.

  10. Fraye

    Please more info on Stone! Very concerned!

  11. THE hockey GOD

    who played in NHL when real men played the game, in golden era.

    Signature slap shot (gone in today’s game).

    Only player to play wearing a hair piece.

    • THE hockey God

      And one of the players to openly admire Hitler!

      • THE hockey GOD

        ^^^^^alert^^^^^ fake stalker creepy psycho stalker poster


      • knights fan in minny

        better then the guy you admire al sharpton the clown who rips off black people

        • Alex

          You think Sharpton is like Hitler? You’re even dumber than I thought! Lol

          • knights fan in minny

            did i strike a nerve talking about your piece of shit idol uncle al is like you a piece of shit does uncle al drink malt liquor to

          • knights fan in minny

            uncle al steals your money he don’t help you folk

        • Alex

          Thank goodness you recheck aholes are all being replaced

          • knights fan in minny

            hey dumb ass you said that last year were still here keeping you around your dumb ass idol uncle al would not do that hewanna take yo money bitch

  12. THE hockey GOD

    Horvat traded to Islanders by Canucks
    Has 31 goals this season; Vancouver receives Beauvillier, Raty, conditional 1st-round pick

    VGK doesn’t have ability to match the offer from the isles without severely gutting th team.

    • JV

      No contract extension in place. Bo shooting at 21.7% this season with a career 14% shooting pct. He is going to get way overpaid for a career 50-55 pt. per season guy.

  13. mcart

    expect to see Max Domi in a Vgk uniform soon.

  14. JV

    Sheng Peng reported Sharks looking for a 1st rd. pick, one A-level or 2 B- level prospects, and a young NHL ready player for Timo Meier.
    VGK has a few B level prospects. 2 of them, Cotter, and the pick? Chase the shiny new toy again? Just putting it out there during a slow week.

    • vgk21

      Meier would be a good addition except for a major problem…he is a Rfa at season end, making 10M this season, and any new offer would have to BEGIN at $10 Million per year.

      unless Stone is done for his career, there is no cap room in Vegas for that kind of contract.

  15. Dylan Barmmer

    My Lord. Some of the comments and “minds” on these threads…


    PS–Fire McCrimmon. He ruined The VGK.

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