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The Delicate Balance Of Juggling Lines With Jack Eichel’s Return

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With Jack Eichel’s return to the lineup and Mark Stone’s corresponding absence, the Golden Knights are rolling out a new-look lineup. Here’s how it’s expected to look based on the line combinations from the past few practices.

Pacioretty-Eichel-Dadonov
Janmark-Karlsson-Smith
Marchessault-Stephenson-Roy
Carrier-Patrick-Howden

So, Marchessault is off the Misfit Line, Stephenson has found his way down to the third line, Roy is a winger, and Pacioretty becomes the primary scoring threat with Eichel.

All in all, it’s three brand new lines as part of a plan to analyze a whole host of potential options with the new #1 center in the fold.

We’re going to look at everything. What we don’t want to do is we don’t want to get to the playoffs, or late in the season, and then start experimenting or say ‘I wonder what that looks like.’ So, I think we’re going to look at some different combinations and some different things and see. -DeBoer

Here’s where it gets tricky though. If the team plays well, it’ll be tough to switch them and thus the experiment goes away. But, if they don’t play well, the lasting impression of each individual line may not be a true reflection of how good it can be.

So, as a coach, do you force yourself to give them a chance to stick together?

I don’t know if there is a right answer to that. As a coach, you want to be patient but if we’re generating absolutely nothing, your patience gets tested where you’ve got to try and win a game too. We’ll see how the game goes, hopefully that won’t be an issue. -DeBoer

Because of this, beyond the obvious impact on the standings, it’s of added importance that each individual plays well over this next stretch of games. A single rough performance could force DeBoer to make changes he wasn’t necessarily ready to make, which could impact the long-term success of this team when the games really matter in May and June.

In a perfect world, each set of lines would get a few games together before they are switched around to give the coach as much information as possible before the playoffs. But utopia rarely exists in hockey, and even when it does coaches don’t want to mess with it.

It’s a delicate balance the Golden Knights must walk over the next few months. They need to learn more about Eichel’s fit and how it affects the rest of the lineup so that when they get into the meat of the postseason, they have the answers.

It will require patience, commitment, and most importantly, consistent strong play from everyone in the lineup every night.

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18 Comments

  1. B-Rad-Lee

    Each line needs a sniper, a two way center, and a net front presence.
    Paches, Smith, Marchessault, and Howden are the snipers.
    Dadanov, Janmark, Roy and Carrier are the thugs in front of the net.
    The centers are all proven two way scorers and defensemen (Jack and Nolan are unproven, so we’ll see).

    Power play: Line 1 plus Roy, Line 2 plus Marchy
    It will be interesting to see how the PKs are outfitted.

  2. LOL – patience is something the VGK FO has never had. A couple of bad plays or a week or two of lackluster and you’re frigging gone. Unless your name is Lehner, Kolesar or Patrick.

  3. Michael

    These are very close to the lines I’ve wanted to see. (Consider Roy as the Stone placement).

    I was thinking Patches-Stephenson-Stone but in general Patches is bigger than Marchy so better with Eichel.

    PP1 — line 1 + Smith/Karlsson
    PP2 — line 2 (stone-Stephenson-marchy line) + Martinez/Smith/Karlsson

    PK1 — Karlsson/Smith (two 3rd liners)
    PK2 — Roy/Stone (4th liner involved)

  4. Henderson One

    This analysis is as good as it goes but I would be interested in how you analyze the goalie situation with Lehner hurt and no clear indication as to whether this is a season ending injury. If it is season ending what are the options?

    • Blitz

      In my opinion, I think LB is every bit as good as Lehner especially if he plays more than 1 out of 7 games to get some rhythm. He is not a bad goalie. This is the exact reason why they have a 2.5 mil dollar backup to a guy that is injury prone. Sure you can pick up another goalie during the reg season, but if this was the playoffs already you are kind of stuck with what you got. Anyway, I am guessing they will run with LB/Thompson for a few weeks to see how it goes. Then pick someone up if LB doesn’t look to be the guy. Of course as much as they have not played him maybe they already don’t think he can take the load. Hell I don’t know what i am saying. 🙂

  5. Ken – while all you pointed out is probably true the thing that stands out the most and is more important than anything else “everyone needs to step up every night and play to their potential. That’s a tall order given they haven’t done so to this point. You never know from game to game what team is going to show up. To think Eichel’s presents is going to chance that situation is far fetched . Let’s hope giving up Tuck doesn’t bit them in the butt which wouldn’t be surprising as he has changed the dynamics of buffalo.

  6. knights fan in minny

    brooks is a maple leaf

  7. Barcelonatom

    Ken….. looking at the standings we need to back up a bit…. The Knights are far from a lock to make the playoffs….and they have been far from an elite level team so far…. I know and agree… injuries…..but the injuries continue…… The Flames are blowing right by them and the Oilers are just 4 points behind with a game in hand…..then it’s wild card hell…..and thinking aboot “hell”…….where is Martinez ???

    • If this team misses the playoffs, they never had a shot to win the Cup in the first place. They are in fantastic shape to make the playoffs both because of how many points they’ve amassed plus the relative pathetic nature of the Pacific. They may not win the division, but they’ll make the playoffs, you have nothing to worry about there. As for Martinez, check out our Injury Page.

  8. Rick Lowery

    We have goalie issues that haven’t been addressed …getting deep into the playoffs is a stretch

  9. THE hockey GOD

    positioning players out of their normal position, and comfort zone, is often a recipe for failure. Maybe one player. But not so many. This is on the coach, strictly. He sets the line up.

    He owns it.

  10. Mike StG

    I think PDB’s comments about switching up in game when they’re not getting any scoring, if that happens, can be just a one game thing. The next game you go back to the same lineup. He can easily try the different combinations for several games and when necessary make in game line adjustments.

    I don’t see him as a coach that tries something for 1 or 2 periods and makes that quick of a judgment. Plus they practice regularly and a lot can be discerned then.

  11. Mike StG

    I think one of the slight changes we might see in Vegas’s game is a reduced number of stretch passes by the D. Petro is one of the league’s best at it, but they lose a lot of pucks during the game or end up in DZ face offs due to icing. Eichel is such a good skater and skilled at zone entries that it could improve their puck possession, particularly in the OZ.

    Jack is also one of the better players at slot passing, so we might see Dadonov get better shot opportunities net front or in the high slot. My belief is that’s why they’re playing Dado on his line.

  12. Blitz

    I think this is a good first shot at line combos for the eichel/stone mix up and makes sense. I do like the misfit line, but what do you do. You need to make every line have something and this is what i read into the lines posted in this article.

    L1 – scoring line for sure. The heavy hitters. Interesting what Mike said above about Dadinov and Eichel’s setup ability. Everyone was hoping dad would get back to being the great scorer he was in FL, but so far he has been very average at best. I think a great setup guy, like he had in FL, can unleash his best. This is the best chance he is going to get here and I hope he does great things. Regardless, I like this line as the first real L1 attempt.

    L2 – this line says defense. Smith and Bill are both excellent and Janmark can fit in here. I assume this is the line that takes on opposing team L1’s and chip in with goals here or there.

    L3 – This is another good scoring line and tolerable defense . Roy can be Jekell and Hyde at times and not playing center hurts, but I like Marchy with Stephenson w/ Roy as a compliment. If Dadinov struggles on L1 I bet Marchy and him will probably switch which will drop the quality here. Otherwise, I like this L3 alot.

    L4 – Grinder/energy line, some offense, some defense. This line will rotate a bit like it has, but lately this bottom set has been solid and even scoring. Patrick has the ability and getting better every game. Not sure his faceoff stats, but the other night I remember him winning just about every time. I hope that is a real thing. Win the faceoff, carrier drive it deep and then bring out L1. Howden has been scoring lately and generally ok otherwise. Amadio has had moments of good too and even earned a contract. Carrier does what he does really well, drive it deep, strong on the puck etc. Kolesar, not a fan, but seems to do good things aside from scoring and he fits on L4. I always respect a guy who fights for teammates even if he isn’t a heavy. It’s what VGK has this year.

    My 2 cents.

  13. The hockey GOD

    Owner sh it’s in pants 10 mil down toilet. Choke eichrl is non factor. GmGm gone squandering owners money. I do not see it

  14. Pre-game I thought maybe VGK would have the fresher legs and be able to take it to Colorado who is on a back-to-back. Nope. VGK looked and skated like shit, got beat to just about every puck and the passing was horrendous.

    Game summary. Passing – F, Shooting -F, Defense -C, Goaltending -B. Eichel looked smooth in his first appearance. Brossoit played well enough to keep the VGK in it but the team chemistry is sorely lacking. Too many faces too fast and way too many line changes. Golden Knights have zero identity. Lots of talents but each player is playing as an individual. I rarely saw any 3+ multiple passes unless it was on a PP. Colorado was quicker to the puck, stickhandling and passing was superior. DeBoering just stands there looking dumbstruck, no emotion at all. Personally, I am not happy with the direction of this team. I am a season ticket holder and the team was 1000X more exciting with Gallant behind the bench.

  15. Henderson One

    This looks like a team in trouble with little time to adjust.

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