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Eichel Benefitting From Extra Center As Linemate

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the Golden Knights continue to return to health, the number of lineup options for Bruce Cassidy begins to grow. As players have funneled into and out of the lineup we’ve been able to see a good number of different combinations with the forward groups.

With it has come quite a bit of information. Some of it’s been good, some not as much. We’ve certainly learned that Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone can succeed without Jack Eichel. We also know that the 4th line seems to operate best with Nic Roy in the middle. And while “Plan E” of Michael Amadio fits at the moment, it took Plans C, D, F, and G to settle on this one.

Another particular piece of knowledge that has been gained across the month of lineup mishmash has been the value of having another center on the line with Jack Eichel.

In his 28 games this season Eichel has played on three different lines. First, it was Eichel with Smith and Kessel, then he found his way to the most consistent line with Stone and Stephenson, and finally, yesterday’s return to the lineup matched with Smith and Roy. It’s been easy to see that in the games in which he’s had another center on his line, the group works more seamlessly in all three zones.

It’s huge to have another center on the ice. Both of us can take draws and you are interchangeable when you need to play low in the D-zone. -Eichel

The typical responsibilities of the center in Cassidy’s system (and most systems for that matter) involve playing much closer to their own goal in the defensive zone. And while Eichel has certainly put forth a better defensive output this year than much of his career, the benefit of having someone else doing that job can help unlock Jack’s speed and prowess through the neutral zone when the puck is eventually broken out.

Last night’s goal was a perfect example. Roy is the acting center in the defensive zone as the Golden Knights attempt an exit. A battle along the wall is won by Smith which then springs Roy into another battle in the neutral zone. When Roy wins it, Eichel, who was previously posted up on the right wing defensively, is now in plenty of space to receive the pass and head in on goal.

Of course, if the roles were reversed, Eichel is fully capable of making the play Roy made to set up the chance, but if the Golden Knights could choose, they’d always prefer the puck on Eichel’s stick for the finish. That’s exactly what happened in large part because he was on the ice with another center.

It’s just an easier switch to go down low when you’ve been a center before than a winger going down there. It’s a tougher position to play and there’s more responsibility so it’s definitely a ‘more the merrier’ situation. -Bruce Cassidy

The trick becomes keeping it that way as wingers return to the lineup. With Jonathan Marchessault’s pending return, it seems like he will slot onto Eichel’s right wing and Roy will move back to the 4th line. Cassidy has mentioned his ideal lineup would have Eichel, Karlsson, Stephenson, and Roy as the four centers, and it appears that will be the case as soon as tomorrow. That will inevitably leave Eichel as the only true center on his line.

The success of pairing another center with Eichel has to be sticking in the back of Cassidy’s mind though. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise if one of those centers finds his way back onto Eichel’s line sooner than later.




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  1. Roberto

    Maybe some recency bias, but this last 10 or so games, seems like the passing has never been crisper. This includes one-time passes like Roy’s to Eichel referenced in this story, and the multi-player connects that have resulted in goals. You see it happening, as it happens, and the result is a lit lamp. Been a lot of fun.

    Also, was thinking last night that the team has been able to weather lost games due to injuries as the team’s depth has become more seasoned. Much has been discussed with who’s been traded away, and what guys have not panned out, but with the team being around 5 years now, imagine this is when players in your system finally have some depth of experience. Guys who’ve been called up have some NHL games, along with a ton of AHL games, this year whereas last year and before it was either scrap heap vets or over matched kids (Glass for example).

    If you first draft kids that fit your program concepts when they’re 18, seems about right that they’d be apt to help at age 23. And this is not counting on or looking for stars from the system, just guys you can call up that can at least keep the boat afloat.

    No science behind those thoughts. Always open to different interpretations + course correction.

    • THE hockey GOD

      “Much has been discussed with who’s been traded away, ” not this season. That is water way under the bridge, half way around the world by now. Only losers bring up shit like that.

    • TS

      Roberto, thoughtful post. BTW, you are NOT a loser for being thoughtful. Carry on!!

      • THE hockey GOD

        anyone commenting on “who’s been traded away ” trying to make it a topic this year when it isn’t; is a loser. I see the other losers biker and blitz haven’t been post because the VGK have been wining.

        • TS

          Thg. Your BAH, HUMBUG is back.Opinions are just like noses…we ALL have one. Fans DO talk of past seasons. It’s about team history. Jeesh…

          • THE hockey GOD

            i never called roberto a loser, don’t put words
            in my post that aren’t there

  2. Tim

    It will be interesting to see who sits when everyone is healthy. I think Amadio and Cotter are locks to stay in the starting lineups. I also like the way Miromaov plays he needs game time but starting life as a forward gives him an advantage of playing defense with an offensive mindset. My other sleeper Pavel Dorofeyev I see a lot of upside and I think he can become a reliable scorer. I wouldn’t give up on Howden yet at 24 I still think he has upside. We had a great start to the team but our first 4 picks 3 in the first round Glass, Branstrom, Suzuki, then Hague just didn’t give us the bang it should have. Glass was a bust, Branstrom traded for Stone still hasn’t made an impact in Ottawa, Suzuki traded for the glass man who if you noticed still hasn’t played a game for Carolina. Thank god we dumped that 7 million dollar albatross.

  3. Emmanuel

    I think Eichel would be better on RW but it aint gonna happen cause
    “he’s the 1st line C we’ve always needed”. I see a LOT of paralels btw him and Alexei Yashin.

  4. Pistol Pete

    Ken I like your angle that Eichel benefits from having a center in his wing, however I predict when Marchy returns, Eichel will center him and Smith moving Roy back down to the 4th where he is badly needed. Amadio is fine where he is with Stephenson and Stone until such time he stops producing. Call me crazy but when Dorofeyev is healthy he may get a look at scatching Amadio if he cools off. Cassidy is clearly interested in Doro using him on the PP where he nearly scored twice and putting him up with Stephenson and Stone for a stretch.

  5. THE hockey GOD

    Hunter knew this wasn’t one of those childish boy-whores trolling for perverts; this was a man. Young, but still a man. He couldn’t see him, but his voice told Hunter that he was a man that had done things of which he’d never spoken; a man who lent himself to situations where his precociousness could not have extracted him safely, yet he’d gone anyway. For the money, or the drugs, or the thrill, Hunter wasn’t sure which.

    He had a hard street smell to him: the coarse weave of slightly greasy jeans; the soft, worn odor of a leather jacket; the musty, unwashed smell of lank hair. What would his feet be like trapped in boots all day? Hunter wondered. Not rank, no; a slight vinegar smell, like chips, only with a more sensual under-tongue taste.

    Hunter also questioned himself about the haughtiness of the man’s poise. Did he hold a mild distance, unerringly begging you to pull him in close? Did he burn you with a cool, liquid stare that dried the mouth? Or did he bark a seductive, fuck me trash-boy look that would melt your eyes?

    Hunter considered that his mouth might be fleshy and full; drawn cheeks buttressing a squared chin; a sinister, almost cool-sly secret smile hinting at the exciting mysteries of his flesh.

    His eyes might be slightly pretentious; the slitted, oval shape of some Asian ancestry; or maybe the round, bedroomed look of some high European lineage. Their unsuccessful attempt at veiled sensuality would be lost on Hunter though, and it made him chuckle to think of the consternation it would cause.

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