Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

If William Carrier Is Ready For Game 5, Who Comes Out?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are flying high right now having beaten the Jets three straight times and taken a commanding lead in the first round series. Vegas is one win away from repeating their performance in the 2018 Western Conference Final and moving on to a date with the Oilers or Kings. When they arrived back in Las Vegas, they got some unexpected excellent news. After suffering a pretty gruesome-looking knee injury in early March, William Carrier participated in practice today and may be ready to play as soon as tomorrow.

Carrier is having the best year of his career, leading the Golden Knights in game-winning goals with seven and posting career highs in goals (16) and points (25). But, with the team playing as well as they have, Bruce Cassidy has to make a difficult decision on what to do with his lineup in Game 5.

The way I see it, Cassidy has six options to choose from. Here’s a look at all six, ranked in order of which I believe would be best for the Golden Knights, with the worst option first.

Brett Howden

Following the two-goal game, it would be awfully harsh to take Howden out of the lineup right now. He’s been an excellent fit with Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone since finding his way on their left-wing this series, and his physicality has helped make life difficult on the Jets. There have been moments this season where Howden has gone invisible offensively but this is not one of them. Taking him out for Carrier wouldn’t be a great move.

Keegan Kolesar

Offensively, Kolesar is clearly not the most impactful player in the Golden Knights’ lineup, but he adds a dimension to the lineup that otherwise isn’t there without him. His physical forechecking has been tough on the Jets and his multiple early-game big hits have seemed to knock Winnipeg off their game a bit. Kolesar’s defensive game doesn’t get enough credit too. He’s consistent along the walls, willing to block shots, and makes good decisions in helping the Golden Knights exit. Throw in the fact that he scored a goal in this series, and replacing him with a cold Carrier would be a mistake at this point.

Michael Amadio

Game 3 wasn’t that long ago, and without “Plan E’s” game-winning goal in double-OT, the Golden Knights would be in a much different place. The argument for scratching Amadio does have some weight because of the impact he’s made outside of the GWG. Despite playing up the lineup with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault, Amadio hasn’t been generating nearly as many chances as he did when he was at his best. The challenge with removing Amadio from the lineup is the ripple effect it would have. It’s unlikely Carrier would be placed on the top-line, so that would mean at least two, and probably three, of the four lines would need changing to swap one player.

Ivan Barbashev

Earlier in the series Barbashev was demoted from the 1st line all the way down to the 4th. He’s continued to play his brand of physical hockey but the offensive aspect of his game definitely feels limited where he is in the lineup. That being said, it was Barbashev’s skate that set up Amadio’s OT goal and Barbashev’s stick that tipped home Vegas’ 3rd goal which ultimately stood as the game-winner in Game 4. In practice today he took reps on the second power play unit, indicating he’s not likely to be coming out of the lineup, but for me, it would be the most like-for-like switch to take him out in favor of Carrier.

Phil Kessel

First off, the iron man streak is not on the line during the playoffs as the postseason games do not count. Beyond that, Kessel has been pulled off the power play unit (in favor of Barbashev) and he’s been unable to do much offensively in this series. Defensively, Kessel is always going to be a bit of a liability so replacing him with Carrier would be an upgrade in that regard. The fit with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith makes sense on paper, but his shot just doesn’t seem to be lethal enough for it to produce consistently. Simply put, Kessel has been the Golden Knights’ worst player in this series, which speaks as much to the other 17 playing well as it does to Phil playing poorly. If Carrier has to go in, replacing Kessel would be the best option.

Leave Carrier Out

I understand how good Carrier has been this season, and I’m certainly not going to advocate for him to stay out of the lineup forever, but with VGK playing so well in each of the last three games and putting the Jets on the brink of elimination, it just doesn’t make sense to me for this to be the game to force Carrier back into the lineup. If there was a player who was clearly struggling or even a line that was hurting the Golden Knights, I’d be more inclined to get one of Vegas’ best 12 forwards back into the lineup, but that hasn’t been then case. The Golden Knights’ season cannot come to a close tomorrow, and in fact, it’s possible they earn themselves a bunch of added days off, so while it’ll be disappointing to Carrier who has worked hard to get his moment, the best option for the team would be to postpone that moment until either Game 6 of this series or Game 1 of the next.


Goalie Interference – Season 2 Episode 30 – April 26th, 2023




  1. Salcolm Mubban

    Never thought I would say this, but I would argue that Marchessault has been a tad less effective than Kessel in this series. Give him a rest day

    • Pistol Pete


    • Rashaad


      I can’t even find a proper word to describe that suggestion.

      I would like Salcolm Mubban to immediately schedule himself for a lobotomy and I will pay for it.

    • THE hockey GOD

      sb welcome to jungle, I agree no. 81 is a ghost in playoffs. And he’s a hot head, leading to uncalled for “retaliation” penalties. But Butch won’t sit him.

      • Karl

        “Butch won’t sit him.”

        Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

        I wonder why that is. I wonder why one of the best coaches in the league with a career record of 297-120-55 won’t sit him.

        Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

        I guess it’s because Bruce Cassidy wants to win.

      • I have been advocating for Kessel to be benched all year, but that nonsensical game streak kept it from happening. He can’t score, he can’t dig in the corners, move Roy up to be with Karlsson and Smith, and suddenly you have 3 formidable lines!


      Why would you play Carrier tonight? Let him sit and get some more time to get ready. Reevaluate if/when we get to the next round. I don’t think the addition of Carrier coming directly off injury is going to affect the outcome of the series. Is Rusty Carrier better than what you have in the lineup right now?

      • Enfuego1313

        There in lies the real kicker. He will always be “rusty” until he can get back in the line up. Just like Stone was. But his upside is huge. So while we have a 3-1 lead, you take advantage and get him some game time so that when we need him most, he is ready. These playoffs are long and hard. We need him to be ready for the next round by playing now.

  2. Trip

    28 is better than all the above mentioned. Cassidy knows that. He was the heartbeat if the team besides Stone. OG VGK, respected and can score and defend. We are gonna need big bodies and forecheck for the next round. Get him in there if he’s ready, our March to the cup is only going to get harder. Good to see we are healthy and have options but in my mind he’s a no brained to go back in.

  3. Pistol Pete

    My son heard Kessel’s ankle is not 100%. Guess we’ll find out Thursday’s skate though we should
    have yesterday’s. Bad ankle or not my vote is scratch Phil: same lineup just slot Carrier in: Smith-Karlsson-Carrier. Turns out Kessel’s and Carrier’s
    points a game are similar this season: Carrier (25/36 =.45) Kessel (36/82 = .44) however Carrier’s 16 G of 25 pts is a much higher % than Kessel’s 14 G of 36 pts. Carrier’s career season thus far: Carrier is +15 vs. Kessel -7. Carrier way better defensively. Carrier in, Kessel out.

  4. EK

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Leave the lineup the same for tonight, close these bastards out and then start getting ready for the next round.

  5. Jailbird

    Of course I agree, as I have said this a couple days ago. Kessel just hasn’t done anything in this series. Set him and put high energy Carrier in there! No brainer! Also, how about those Kraken! Take 3-2 lead over AVs! What an upset that would be.

  6. Rashaad

    I agree. Kessel out. I’m not displeased with his play though. I believe he has performed as advertised.

  7. knights fan in minny

    phil the thrill can sit

  8. THE hockey GOD

    unless Kessel is nursing an injury that impacts his play, Butch will NOT
    sit him.

    • Karl

      Hockey God, what the hell are you talking about when you said that Butch will NOT sit Kessel. Why would you say that?

  9. VGK Fan

    I love Carrier he has always been on of my favorites. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it at least as far as tonight goes.

  10. Frank

    For my money – if Carrier is ready to go, it’s either Kolesar or Kessel sitting out.

  11. Satan

    This is Satan.

    The only viable options are to leave the line up as is or take Kessel out.

    Satan has spoken.

  12. bimjurke

    Kessel out , all the way. The guy is invisible.

  13. God

    This is God.

    Your up 3-1. Get Carrier some playoff reps. I don’t care who you pull out, consider it a rest. Being deep is not a problem, it’s a luxury.

    God has spoken.

    • Satan

      This is Satan.

      Hi God. Top of the morning to you, sir or madam.

      Satan has spoken.

  14. Tim

    Carrier coming back and the decisions that have to be made shows just how deep our team is. Maybe they should leave well enough alone and play the team that got you here that way Carrier would have a few more days of practice before round 2 starts. Whoever they start make sure you put the final nail in the coffin because we don’t want to go back to Winnipeg.

  15. Richie-Rich

    If Carrier is 100% then the only option is to put him in for Kessel. Kessel’s no spring chicken and resting him makes sense. Besides, both of these players are similar in style but Carrier is much tougher IMO.

    Carrier’s been clutch this season.

    Seems like a good move to me.

  16. Jailbird

    Ok slow down here. A) – We don’t even know if Carrier is going to play tonight. B)- Just like Stone, here come the comments that Will won’t be ready, etc, etc. So again I say: The doctors, coach and player will only play if he is ready. At first I thought, let him rest a few more days if we close out tonight. Then I thought tonight, being up 3-1 is a perfect time to play him. His hustle and toughness can only hope. (As long as it’s Kessel they sit).

  17. Vic

    Sit Eichel, Stone, Karlsson and Bro. April Fools. Just leave the lineup alone and then play Carrier if they don’t clinch tonight. Sit Kessel or Kolesar no problem.

  18. Kessel Kessel Kessel no brainer!!!!

  19. TE

    Need Carrier in the lineup. Especially going forward. I would sit Kolesar and put Carrier back into that fourth line. Less of a churn in the rest of the lineup. Carrier replaces Kolesar’s grit and strengthens the offense. Agree Kessel is not performing but I think we win this one then figure out the recipe for the next series.

  20. knights fan in minny

    any word on shea

  21. Jailbird

    Got our wish. Kessel out! Shea not feeling well, late scratch.

  22. Rashaad

    Jailbird, the best front office in the league, and our coach simply just know what they are doing. Sitting Kessel is definitely the right move. Carrier has had a nice game for his first one of the playoffs. This is a great website when everyone sticks to talking hockey and it’s a lot of fun talking strategy with each other but in the grand scheme of things, they know what they are doing. I was advocating for having Adin Hill start game four and that looks like a ridiculous suggestion right now. It’s not like Laurent Brossoit is putting up a spectacular performance or anything, he has barely had to work but he makes the saves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén