Heading into Thursday’s Halloween game against the Montreal Canadians, it appears the Golden Knights will be at full strength for the first time all season. Nate Schmidt, Alex Tuch, and Malcolm Subban are all back. Deryk Engelland’s “minor tweak” shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup, and despite being sent to the AHL yesterday, Nic Hague, Jake Bischoff, and Nic Roy are all available to the Golden Knights.
A full-strength roster means a full-strength lineup. But, what that looks like is in the eye of the beholder. The perfect lineup to me is not the perfect lineup to you is not the perfect lineup to Gerard Gallant.
So, we figured the best thing to do to illustrate the possible differences would be to ask members of the media to submit their lineup if they were the head coach. Each of the three writers for SinBin.vegas, plus Justin Emerson from the Las Vegas Sun, Ryan Wallis from Fox Sports Radio, and Jesse Granger from The Athletic each sent in their “perfect lineup” with a little explanation as to why they like it that way.
Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas
Explanation: First things first, Cody Glass needs to be playing center, so I put him there. Then, that left me with the option of playing Eakin as 4th line center or as a winger. We’ve never seen him as a wing and he’s a terrifically responsible defensive center that would fit well on the 4th line. So, now it’s Reaves, Pirri, or Roy? I liked what I saw from Roy, but it was as a center and for a single game. So, I’ll stick with what we know, and go with Reaves. The final option is who to play on the left wing on the 3rd and 4th lines. The options are Carrier or Nosek. Carrier has flashed when given the chance to show some offense, and with the Golden Knights, he’s never gotten a chance to play with skilled forwards. Nosek has, and he’s been just okay. So, let’s go with Carrier and see what happens.
As for the D, there wasn’t much to choose from. With Schmidt back, he clearly should be with McNabb to make the best pair possible and have them eat up the toughest minutes. Holden and Merrill have been perfectly suitable with each other so I’ll leave that. Which brings us to the only decision, Engelland or a rookie. I like Theodore on the right because it accentuates his offensive talents. Thus, I’m willing to roll the dice and try Hague with Theodore and see if they can hold their own in their own end. PK duties are fine with 88, 22, 15, and 3 with Engelland out of the lineup.
Justin Emerson, Las Vegas Sun
Explanation: I’d like to see what Glass could do as a playmaking center, particularly with a winger like Tuch. I also think as a lefty, Eakin would be better suited to the left wing than either righty on his line. On the fourth line, Nosek has proven to be a terrific defender that can win faceoffs, while Carrier and Roy’s speed can generate offense while still laying the hits that the Golden Knights value. McNabb and Theodore have been strong matching with other team’s top lines, while Merrill and Schmidt could help them against teams with a strong top-six. Holden has been playing well enough to keep in the lineup, while I haven’t seen enough out of Hague or Bischoff to think that right now they are better than the six veteran defensemen that Vegas has.
Jason Pothier, SinBin.vegas
Explanation: The swap isn’t a knock on Paul Stastny, because he’s having a solid October. I think he could help an anemic third line. Two veteran 200-foot centers combined with a big shooting forward in Alex Tuch, the third line would likely generate more offense. It would balance out speed and skill. The second line gets faster and the third line can possibly find their identity. Tuch, and ultimately the team, could benefit by having two centers with eyes in the back of their heads covering opponents and feeding assists. As for the defense, the rookies simply haven’t shown enough to push any of the veterans out of the lineup, so we go back to the way it started on opening day before VGK lost Nate.
Ryan Wallis, VGK Insider Show & Pre, Intermission, and Post Game Show on Fox Sports Radio
Explanation: I wouldn’t touch the top two lines at all. They are both generating enough to keep everything the same. I went back and forth on Carrier or Nosek playing wing with Glass and Tuch. I like Carrier’s speed, and if he goes to the net, he has a chance to do some damage. The lack of extra defensive enhancement worries me, but I want my third line to score goals. Cody Eakin is a fourth-line center on this team, and that’s okay. Schmidt makes McNabb better. Theodore gets the lion share of power-play minutes, and pairs well with Bischoff.
Steve Carp, SinBin.vegas
Explanation: The top six were no-brainers. But the bottom six and the final D pairings were the tough calls. If Glass is remaining he has to play and having Tuch on that line changes the dynamic. Nosek is playing well and deserves to stay in the lineup and he, Carrier and Reaves work well together. On D, I’m leaving Hague in and sitting Engelland, whose experience will be valuable later in the year and giving him time off now will help him later with fresher legs. Now’s the time for the Hague to learn to play at this level and playing with the fast-skating Theodore will help him with his development.
Jesse Granger, The Athletic
Explanation: I’m not touching the top six, as they’ve been phenomenal and I see no reason to. Moving Cody Glass back to his natural position at center, between Tuch and Carrier should create an extremely fast, dangerous third line. Eakin, Nosek and Roy make a reliable fourth line, with the potential to produce here and there. Defensively I like the old reliable pairings for the top two, and Theodore and Hague together in offensive spots to let their abilities shine the most.
the Hockey God
don’t like two big forwards on same line, moving #81 gives him a big forward to help, or you could flip flop Stone and Smith, but prefer to keep Smith/ Karlson togehter.
Bischoff is a better match with Theodore, than Hague is. Glass plays like a center, so no need to move him to center, he’s all over the ice, never stays on his wing. Roy needs to be in the line up , against Montreal because they have no fighters on their team.
” Glass plays like a center, so no need to move him to center,”
Glass plays like a center but by necessity spends the majority of his time in the right wing zone. Centers absolutely should play center especially in their early NHL development when they pick up tendencies that will last them their entire careers. Guys like Tyler Seguin are the exception, not the rule and I would argue that Seguin doesn’t even play the center role tremendously well.
“he’s all over the ice, never stays on his wing.:”
Wingers generally don’t spend every waking moment of their shift on their wing, especially defensively minded ones. Glass does tend to gravitate most of his 5 on 5 play on the right wing where he’s been assigned, typically only drifting off the wing to chase the puck behind the net or hustling back to the defensive zone. I don’t know which #9 wearing Glass you’ve been watching to say he NEVER stays on his wing. That’s just utterly untrue.
And beyond that, at some point Cody is going to need to hone his faceoffs in the context of competitive play rather than practice. He can’t do that from the wing.
Nothing on Gusev lately boys?
He is showing off bigtime in New Jersey now, all the way up in the pressbox. How about any words on that?
Ego still to big?
NOT signing Gusev to his 4.5 million caphit AND get a 2nd + 3rd round pick for him is one of the best moves by the organisation so far.
”Journalism” = complaining with no knowledge what so ever.
Go back and look at every time we talk about Gusev. We get nothing but “move on” comments. We are well aware of what’s happening in the NHL. Thanks for your concern.
the Hockey God
sits tonight, but has played every game to date
Games 9 Goals 3 assists 1 pts 4 -1 +/- TOI 12.44
Gusev is going to watch the contest with Patrik Elias from the suite. The coaches feel he can benefit from Elias’ wisdom and learn things like time and space and play off the puck. Gusev has three goals and one assist in nine games this season.
Jesper Bratt will be back in the lineup on Wednesday night.
Bratt was a healthy scratch this past Friday. He has notched one goal and two assists in eight matches this season. Look for him to play with Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha against Tampa Bay.
I, for one, would rather have Gusev for what he could be in 2 or 3 years than a final year with Eakin. Eakin is fine, but these lineup proposals show how expendable he is. If he had been traded to make room for Gusev (and Pirri not been re-signed), we wouldn’t be any better or worse. Nosek and Roy can do most of what Eakin does and Eakin will either be gone at the trade deadline, or leave next summer in free agency anyway. (Even if they couldn’t get a deal done with Gusev, they could’ve traded Eakin, re-signed Bellemare, let Pirri walk and kept Haula and you’d have a better 3rd line — Haula-Glass-Tuck — and our old super deep 4th line — a mix of Bellemare, Reaves, Carrier and Nosek.)
Anyone who says they wouldn’t trade 3 years of Gusev for 1 year of Eakin and Pirri is nuts.
Roy needs to be playing. AS an earlier comment suggests … maybe it IS time to “spot” play Revo vs Nosek depending on size/toughness of that games opponent? Just very impressed on what I saw of Roy in last years Caulder cup AND in game the other night. Agree, it’s time to limit #5’s time. Maybe do same with Bischoff vs Hauge, playing Hauge against bigger teams, Bischoff vs speedier.
Here are my pairings:
With this being the first game having everyone back, I wouldn’t want to adjust the offensive pairings too much. Let’s see how the original line-up looks with everyone back and then start to switch things up a little. I really liked Roy, but that was only one game. Let’s see how he does going forward
As for the defensive pairings, Merrill-Holden had one really good game but have been very shaky the rest. The last game Merrill looked completely lost. I still like him over Holden though. I thought the Bischoff-Engo pairing looked great together.
I don’t like a Theo-Hague pairing as I think they will get burnt defensively. They would give great offensive power but would be no help at all in front of MAF.
Just A Guy
Big fan of moving Glass back to center, in either the 2nd or 3rd line. He’s shown that he meshes well with Stone and Patches, but Stastny is the hot hand right now and it might be good to wait for now. Also would be nice to see how Glass works with Tuch.
Moving Eakin to the 4th frees up his minutes to be a stellar PK guy. Him, Nosek, and Reaves makes sense.
If VGk does end up dropping Stastny to the 3rd line at any point, I’d move Roy back into the lineup on the 4th, either replacing Reaves or centering the line and moving Eakin up, depending on the game.
McNabb/Theodore currently works so leave that alone. Likewise, Merrill/Holden have shown to mesh. Sit Engo for now, give him some refreshment. Schmidt might need a game to get back to full strength, so leaving his minutes low keeps him from aggravating anything; he’s responsible enough to handle being paired with a rookie, and Hague’s size is handy.
I’d say, for the first game back:
81 – 71 – 19
67 – 26 – 61
28 – 9 – 89
92 – 21 – 75
3 – 27
15 – 22
14 – 88
It is amazing how little people writing on this website and make comments actually know about hockey. Let me know if you grew up playing hockey or just a fan that has watched hockey for a short or a long time. Who knows what a job of a center is? You dont put your best faceoff man on the 3rd or 4th line (Stastny) especially as a winger.
Ken have you every played hockey? Im not busting on you but you are looked at as someone who has superior knowledge so people believe you. You are misleading many fans who are trying to learn the game when you give your “expert” opinion. Make sure fans know you are a fan learning the game and not an expert. You are a fantastic writer but I honestly think you are misleading fans of yours as an “expert” hockey writer.
If you think you have to have played to know the game, you have a lot to learn yourself.
A student of the game is a student of the game. You don’t have to go to law school to know what’s illegal or legal. You don’t have to be a doctor to understand what makes you sick or things that can make you better.
But apparently you CAN judge someone because they have a differing opinion than you. Moving Walnuts to the third or fourth line wing doesn’t mean he can’t take faceoffs. If that’s your reason for knocking on someone who studies the game and the team full time, then get outta here.
Ken, what have you been doing lately? This is the most hate I have seen on your site in forever or if ever? Hey keep fighting the good fight all we can do is give our opinions based on the knowledge we have (what we see) and add our emotions (what we would like to see) and you add that up? Equals all of us (knights fans) having fun picking line ups of what we would like to see. I am in line with Jesse G’s line the most however, I feel we got to get Merrill out of the line up dude is not good or even close to good. Love articles like this its brings some fun during the season. Besides with our coach never changing anything this is the best we got!!!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am just a fan of hockey for most of my life , and a woman. I love hockey more than any other sport. I watch every game I can, all team’s! Been in Vegas 55 year’s so love VGK! I agree with you 100 %.
Cup in Three
From Ken’s, “PK duties are fine with 88, 5, 15, and 3 with Engelland out of the lineup.” Since Engelland is 5, maybe Holden? I do think sitting Engelland leaves them a little softer on the PK. That said, my lineup wouldn’t include him either
(though I probably haven’t accounted for left-handers vs right-handers on the lines or pairings, mostly because I didn’t see much discussion of that by the writers above, Emerson aside)
Whoops. Fixing it now. I meant Holden, you are right.
I was really impressed with Roy’s debut. He hits hard and often like expect the Black & Blue line to do, and that has been a great way to wear down defenders for 2+ years.
I like moving Glass up to work with vets and Stastny down to elevate the 3rd line.
Give me Granger’s lineup and swap out Hague for Bischoff. That is for one reason, speed. This team has been at it’s best when they play faster than everyone else. The defense is playing on their off side anyway, so what is the difference.
Also, swap guys out every now and then. No one should play more than 76 games. If you have intentions to play in May and June, and play well, maintenance days off during the season will help.