Dubbed “The Golden Age” by the Vegas marketing wizards, the Golden Knights will embark into the start of a new era tonight in Los Angeles.
With a new coach behind the bench, inexperienced goalies at the helm, and a full season of Jack Eichel, the question marks surrounding Vegas this season are plentiful.
Tonight, we’ll start to get some of the answers as VGK face a division foe and a likely obstacle to returning to the playoffs after missing for the first time in franchise history.
It’s just a single game, and much is expected to change over the course of the next six months, but we stand to learn a lot about Cassidy, the systems, the roster, the goalies, and much more on this first game from Crypto.com Arena.
How does Cassidy use his lineup and will he stick with it?
The expected lineup is as follows.
Power Play 1
Power Play 2
The first question is how married to these lines is Cassidy? We’ve seen quite a bit of shuffle over the course of the preseason but it looks fairly similar to the lineup he had in mind when Training Camp first began.
Is he willing to let it roll if things aren’t going well for a line or even the whole team? Do we see radical shifts or just a couple guys flip-flopping?
And then, how does he deploy them? With the game being on the road, we won’t learn much about how he plans to use them to match up, but we will learn a lot about who he likes to start where situationally. Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, and Chandler Stephenson saw a massive number of offensive zone starts in the preseason while Keegan Kolesar and Nic Roy started primarily in the D-zone. Cassidy has mentioned his affinity for William Karlsson’s 200-foot game which indicates he’ll likely shoulder a lot of defensive burden, but that may not be possible on a line with Jonathan Marchessault and Michael Amadio.
On D, it’s expected that Alec Martinez and Alex Pietrangelo will draw many of the most difficult matchups, but if they aren’t available or don’t hold up, does he go to Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore or Ben Hutton and Zach Whitecloud?
The final question is in minute usage. As we detailed last week, Cassidy does not like seeing forwards play more than 20 minutes or fewer than 10. However, the lineup is balanced in a way that suggests a much heavier minute load for the top-nine than the fourth line.
Can the spare pieces make the balanced lineup work?
There’s a pretty clear gap between the Golden Knights’ best six forwards and their next six. For months, the expectation was that those six would play together to make as strong a top-six as possible while leaving the rest to the third and fourth lines. But instead, Cassidy has chosen to spread them out over three lines in an attempt at a more balanced and matchup-resistant lineup.
This experiment relies on the likes of Brett Howden, Michael Amadio, and newcomer Phil Kessel to hold up on each of their respective lines.
If they all do, or they all don’t, it’ll be pretty clear, but if one or two struggle, what will Cassidy do to remedy the situation? Will he lean on someone from the 4th line to step up, will he switch them around amongst themselves, or does he throw the entire lineup in a blender? Plus, what type of even-strength ice time do each of these three earn?
Cassidy has mentioned that he believes any team is at its best when they roll four lines, but with the versatility of players like Stephenson and Karlsson, and the ability to play on both sides for Marchessault and Smith, does he create “super lines” from time to time in important spots?
Also, a staple in Pete DeBoer’s playbook was playing Theodore and Pietrangelo together in key offensive situations. We have not seen this at all in the preseason despite the two offensive blueliners playing four preseason games together. Especially if the Golden Knights trail at some point in the game, it will be interesting to see if Cassidy uses the power pair or not.
How will the defensive system hold up in a real game?
If you haven’t heard by now, Bruce Cassidy has completely changed the way the Golden Knights plan on defending in the defensive zone. The new system calls for a hybrid zone where defensemen do not chase puck carriers out to the blue lines and the center is much more responsible for protecting the low slot than helping to recover pucks along the walls.
In the preseason, the Golden Knights had runs of success with the new system, holding multiple opponents to two or fewer high-danger chances in a period, but also extended periods of poor play including against the San Jose Sharks in which they allowed 14 high-danger chances in the 2nd period after seven in the 1st.
It’s clear the Golden Knights all understand the system and know how to play it effectively, but in a 60 minute NHL game, there will undoubtedly be moments they have not seen yet and won’t be quite sure how to deal with as a unit. Plus, the intricacies that have led to Cassidy’s Bruins being at or near the top of the league defensively are not second nature to the Golden Knights yet. The question becomes whether or not these inevitable breakdowns lead to goals or just chances, and then if VGK can correct the mistakes to avoid them from repeating themselves.
The first game of a season is always exciting, but the first one under a new coach for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations that missed the playoffs last year? That’s about as good as it gets for early regular season hockey.
It’s a crap shoot ! Sooo Vegas!
A former season ticket holder
swap lines 2 and 3….don’t waste your #1 scorer playing D
While, on paper, I agree with you, but swapping Marchy/Howden made an instant improvement to both of their play. It definitely confuses me on what the L3 is now. The best defensive center paired up with 2 offensive first guys. We will just have to see what happens. I am just curious at what point does Smith drop down to L3 and we once again have the misfit line that Peter couldn’t get away from either.
L0Like the lines. I see line 4 being productive scorers, and if line 3 uses familiarity as an advantage, then we should get scoring there, too. The guys just may surprise other teams with that depth.
The 1st D line’s 2 veterans, Martinez/ Petro, take pressure off Mcnabb, who shouldered a lot of pressure last season in Martinez’ absence. Again, familiarity between Mcnabb/ Theo is a PLUS.
I, for one, like what I’m seeing. Cassidy is a good fit for Vegas. Hope it’s a W tonite!
Here we go! Go get’em boys. Real hockey is back! Yea baby!
THE hockey GOD
can’t wait to see hague and the chief= whitey back paired on D together!
The key to the this game, and likely first few , is how the VGK weather the relentless
two and three offensive zone fore checking that the LA KINGS will bring. In pre season they had a lot of trouble handling this pressure. Also, the next key question is if Marty on D is back. The weakest D pair is no. 23 (Marty) and no. 7. We all know it.
THE FIFTH LINE says GKG !
And Carrier and Manninen……lotsa decent 13/14/7 guys….
THE hockey GOD
Owen Krebs of Vegas Hockey , when ? Now ! not now. NO NOW !
NHL News, Opening Lineups, and National Hockey Now
Ottawa: After a professional tryout, Derick Brassard signed with the Ottawa Senators. He will wear Mark Stone’s old number- 61 with his new/former team.
Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are among the oldest teams in the NHL.
Washington: Carl Hagelin has undergone hip surgery and is now unavailable to the Capitals.
Boston: The Boston Bruins have sent three notable names to the AHL via the waiver wire.
Colorado: The Colorado Avalanche have unveiled their 2022 Stanley Cup Champion rings.
Florida: The Florida Panthers might have to start the season shorthanded due to a salary cap crunch.
Montreal: First overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky has made the Montreal Canadiens’ top-six.
32 Thoughts: A great listen, as always; Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman preview the Eastern Conference on twitter for hockey fanatic FANS !! NOw. no NOW.
THE FIFTH LINE !
I really enjoyed the read Ken.
I don’t really have a problem so much with the lines except the fact we just signed a guy for 3 million and he is playing on the 4th line. I’m not sure why Roy is not higher in the lineup I thought he was one of the few bright spots during last years season. I guess if he sees an occasional double shift on other lines and sees sometime on the penalty kill it will make more sense.
Also, where is Carrier is he out injured? He is not listed on the IR.
I’m looking forward to the start of the new season and hopefully a healthy one for this years team and I can’t wait to see my fellow season ticket holders on Thursday.
Go Knights Go!!
I second paragraph two.
A VGK Fan
i am more interested in seeing who plays PK. I dont believe we should be seeing Stone on PK, but he’s made appearance before
A VGK Fan
Also i don’t believe Petro should be on the PK either
knights fan in minny
greatest day of the year opening night
I’d go with Trade deadline day……
knights fan in minny
trade deadline is right up there to
Ok you pathetic trolling pedo
Obvious, why on earth would you harrass Minny over NOTHING??
I have no clue how old you are, but…..come ON. GROW UP.
knights fan in minny
mcphat obvious the punk
THE hockey GOD
Golden Age VGK video of the day !! “Dubbed “The Golden Age” by the Vegas marketing wizards, the Golden Knights will embark into the start of a new era tonight in Los Angeles.”
THE FIFTH LINE !!!