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New Look 3rd Line Balances Lineup But Comes With Usage Challenges

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

William Carrier is expected to make his return to the lineup tonight after missing the previous five games. He will not, however, find his way back onto his usual line with Nic Roy and Keegan Kolesar. That spot is being filled by another recent returnee, Brett Howden.

Carrier is instead set to play on a line with Chandler Stephenson and Phil Kessel. Not only is this a new line for all three, but no pair of players on the line has played more than one game with each other this season. Stephenson and Kessel played with Michael Amadio a few games ago against the Dallas Stars, aside from that Carrier and Kessel have never been matched, nor have Carrier and Stephenson.

What makes this line interesting is the vastly different usage rates we’ve seen from each player on it. Carrier is tied with Kolesar in taking 29% of their faceoffs in the offensive zone, the fewest of any Golden Knights. Kessel on the other hand leads all forwards in offensive zone draws, seeing 60% of his dead-puck shifts beginning in the O-Zone. Stephenson lands closer to Kessel at 55%, but he has had plenty of games where the majority of his shifts start closer to his own goal, something that cannot be said for Kessel.

Based on previous usage it’s expected that Cassidy deploys the 4th line (Howden-Roy-Kolesar) in the defensive zone quite a bit tonight, it’s also probable he’ll use Eichel, Cotter, and Amadio heavily offensively. The Misfits can do either, but Cassidy has always preferred to try and pull offense out of them when together. So, where does that leave the newly formed 3rd line?

Another aspect that further complicates things with a Stephenson, Carrier, Kessel line is what happens if the center is tossed out of the faceoff circle. Kessel has taken just eight faceoffs this season while Carrier has been on the dot for only six. Between them, they’ve won 4 of 15, or 26.7%. Cassidy did mention the ability to “toggle” between Howden and Carrier on the left wing which could also remedy this situation.

I think (Stephenson and Carrier) enjoy playing with one another. Stephenson has been on the wing for a long time but I think he’s better suited in the middle. We just have to find the right wingers for him. We’ll see how that plays out. -Cassidy

Carrier and Stephenson did play together quite a bit last season and the results were decent. They were on the ice together for 15 goals in 251 minutes while conceding 12 times. There was also an uptick in chance creation for Stephenson compared to his minutes without Carrier.

The new look 3rd line certainly gives Vegas some of the most balance they’ve had in weeks, but it doesn’t come without concerns and uncertainty. How Cassidy manages it will likely go a long way in determining the team’s success tonight at Madison Square Garden.


Goalie Interference – Season 2 Episode 17 – January 26th, 2023




  1. Blitz

    The question is, how long until this line gets broken up? Does it make it through 2 periods? I am guessing Cassidy’s desire to give Kessel less ice time and Stephenson more ice time will undo it even if it is playing ok. There is not a good 3rd line to be had though right now and really the 2nd line isn’t much better. What do you do? You shift lines, you shift lines, and you shift lines, hoping you magically find something that makes all of this better. Getting a couple guys back is positive though.

    • Vic

      Ditto. Misfits not adding the scoring needed to get through the rough patches. All options should be open moving people around during the break.

  2. B-Rad-Lee

    My concern is the Cotter-Eichel-Amadio line.
    Who do you think will be playing defense from this line?

  3. Emmanuel

    The Misfits are going to be overused defensively.
    The Eichel line is suspect both O & D.
    They should roll 3 1/2 lines and stop trying to use 4.

  4. THE hockey GOD

    Goaltender Logan Thompson was angry after the Devils’ loss Tuesday … at himself. He blamed himself for the goals he let in , even though his coach, teammate William Karlsson and the eye test said he was great. The Knights need to find a way to restore Thompson’s confidence because he’s been critical to the club.

    Stat of the week
    305: The Knights’ number of man-games lost this season. It’s 158 if you don’t want to count center Nolan Patrick, defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Robin Lehner, who are not expected to play this season. That’s still more absences than Seattle (127), Los Angeles (90) and Calgary (36) have had.

    The golden edge,

    folks try to stay focused, too many posters go off the rails. ALL THE TIME

    have a cookie or two.

    • TS

      Thg, I heard LT’s comments recently about his confidence and social media. He blocked all Social Media, citing all the negativity having an effect on his confidence. He really has been in the Goalie Hot Seat since Lehner’s injury last season..SOOO MUCH PRESSURE. It’s understandable. We ALL want him to do well. The team’s success depends on his play. So, it’s not surprising to hear him question his play, blaming himself for the losses. I hope he realizes that, as we all have said, no one man can carry a team. He can stop 49 of 50 SOG, but if our guys don’t score, his statistics are meaningless. A LOSS is a LOSS. Scoring one stinking goal in 60 minutes, as we did vs NY last night, is a loser EVERY TIME. If Hill can hold down the fort when he plays, and if Casdidy has that confidence in him so he uses BOTH goalies more, that should ease LT’S pressure and self- doubt that creeps in. ( coach has been playing LT a LOT) HOPE!!

  5. THE hockey GOD

    last year the whiners were saying we have no centers
    we have no no. 1 centers

    we have over load of centers (ROY, Stephenson, Eichel, Howden, Karlsson

    no end to the train of loser posters.

  6. THE hockey GOD

    i’m watching MSG

    always fun to listen to the Rangers homer TV announcers.

  7. THE hockey GOD

    it’s now official
    have a goalie problem.

    IF that was RL in there this site would be lit up

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