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Jack Eichel Is Playing Far More Than William Karlsson, That Must Change

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On every hockey team, there’s a hierarchy when it comes to time on ice. Every team has a top line that includes a #1 center, a workhorse defenseman, a first power play unit, and preferred penalty killers. This leads to an uneven, but expected, range of times on ice for each of the 18 skaters.

This year, Alex Pietrangelo leads all Golden Knights in time on ice, averaging 23:38 per game. Jack Eichel is the leader among the forwards at a healthy 20:33, nearly two minutes more than he played a year ago. Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson lag by two and three minutes with Stephenson at 18:30 and Karlsson at 17:45. That distribution is normal for a team with three excellent centers.

Something peculiar has been happening recently though. In the 5 games before one Eichel was ejected from, Eichel has amassed 28 more minutes than Karlsson for an average of more than five and a half extra minutes per game.

Yesterday, I asked Bruce Cassidy for his preferred distribution between the centers and he replied that a five-minute difference is too much, and instead, it should be closer to two or three minutes. He continued to hypothesize that it could have to do with added power play time and extra shifts with the team trailing.

However, the numbers have not borne it out.

Last 5 games (before the MIN game)

Even Strength
Eichel: 80:09
Karlsson: 59:33

Power Play
Eichel: 14:32
Karlsson: 7:53

Shorthanded
Eichel: 12:20
Karlsson: 11:47

Overtime
Eichel: 1:10
Karlsson: 0:19

Eichel’s power play and overtime numbers are significantly higher than Karlsson’s, but the lion’s share of the difference is coming at even strength. And, in those five games, Vegas trailed for just 20 minutes, and it was all in the 1st period against Columbus. In every game, Eichel has amassed at least two and a half more even strength minutes than Karlsson and three of the give games have seen Eichel at more than six minutes over Karlsson.

The difference has simply come down to shift length. In those five games, Eichel has played 108 shifts with an average length of 59 seconds per shift, meanwhile, Karlsson is just seven shifts behind at 101, but his shift length is a much shorter 47 seconds per shift. Eichel’s numbers are slightly inflated by a few long power play shifts, but his even strength shifts are routinely 8-10 seconds longer than Karlsson’s.

So, moving forward, if Cassidy does want to keep the minutes of his two best defensive centers closer, he’s going to have to deploy Karlsson for a few extra shifts per game. For every 10 shifts Eichel gets, Karlsson would have to take 15 to match him if they remain on their recent shift lengths.

William Karlsson is as responsible a player as you can find in the NHL, which is why he can keep his shift lengths down. It’s a valuable skill, and one every coach loves to see in their players. But recently, it has meant having one of VGK’s best players on the bench far longer than he should. Moving forward, that needs to change.

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10 Comments

  1. Toe Drag

    Interesting, is it just the centers or wingers too? Be interesting to see Barbashev to Dorofeyev or Marshy to Mantha.

  2. knights fan in minny

    hertl in a white jersey today

  3. Emmanuel

    But Eichel has played in 7 less games so he’s a little fresher. Also Hertl will eat up some time on the PP.

    Im just happy he no longer plays LIKE a Sabre!

  4. ail3d

    Laughable article

  5. NAM

    Kind of seems like a Cassidy thing, ride your best player to death. Petra is a perfect example. The dude plays so many minutes. Frankly I think he gets burnt out. The defense core was pretty damn good without him for his sick stretch. Yet he comes back and will get ridden to death again. A little more balance and trust might be a good thing until you absolutely need it (ie playoffs). Eichel and Karlsson probably the same thing.

  6. ThG

    well that spearing penalty brought no. 9 minutes whacked his playing time for sure !

  7. JB

    Tonight should show if we really are back to playing PO type hockey!

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