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VGK Won’t Stray From Plan To Open Periods Despite Oilers’ Firepower

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Right before the national anthems at every Golden Knights home game, the public address announcer introduces Vegas’ starting lineup to the crowd. If you didn’t know better, you’d probably expect to hear names like Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, or William Karlsson. But, instead, almost every night it’s Nic Roy, William Carrier, and Keegan Kolesar.

Throughout his time behind the Vegas bench, Bruce Cassidy has always preferred to start his fourth line. He says it’s to “set the tone” or “get the team playing the right way” and while those cliches are all good and well, what he really means is he wants a simple start that will keep anything crazy from happening.

The Golden Knights’ 4th line plays a very elementary style of hockey. Get the puck, gain the center red line, send it to the back glass, and then go hit people until they get it back. There’s nothing flashy about it, and most of the time it doesn’t generate much offensively. What it also doesn’t do though is allow the other team much of anything. If Vegas wins the draw, there’s a really good chance it’ll be 200 feet away from the Golden Knights’ goal in seconds. If they lose it, the trio of Roy, Carrier, and Kolesar are excellent at locking down the neutral zone and forcing a dump-in the other way. Again, nothing flashy, and likely nothing really happening.

It’s been successful against pretty much every team in the NHL this season, and it’s a strategy that’s not new to Cassidy. Both Pete DeBoer and Gerard Gallant liked to deploy the fourth line to open games as well.

However, the Edmonton Oilers offer something much different than every other team in the league. Not only do the Oilers have the best player in the game, they also have arguably the second-best player, and to start games and periods, they often send them both out together.

They feel they have an advantage putting Draisaitl and McDavid together, and they’re right, they are two of the best players in the world and they are dynamic, so I get it. But we have to try and counter it the best way possible. -Bruce Cassidy

At face value, it feels incredibly risky to forego the chance to put Eichel, Karlsson, or  Stone on the ice against Edmonton’s big two in favor of the 4th line, but Cassidy chose to do it not just once to start the game, but twice, to start the 2nd period as well.

I don’t mind that matchup. I’m not going to do it for 15 minutes a night, I think that’s too much to ask of any one person. That’s why we’ll share it because it is a demanding job. -Cassidy

A huge part of the reasoning for it is familiarity.

If they’re going to load up that first line, I’m comfortable with all of our centers going against it. The fourth line is used to that situation so if they can be neutral against them we feel our next three lines coming over the boards will have an advantage. Whether that’s right or wrong or if it plays out, we’ll see. It did last night (in Game 1). -Cassidy

On the opening shift of the game, VGK’s fourth line won the faceoff against Draisaitl (who was out there without McDavid) and played 40 seconds of completely eventless hockey. No shots, no hits, no giveaways, no stoppages, nothing. For Vegas, that’s a win.

It shows so much confidence in our group and all we really have to do is show some energy, and maybe throw a couple of hits. It’s fun. -Nic Roy

Start-of-period shifts may appear to be the same as any other shift in the game, but they’re not. Think about how you feel with the ball teed up on the first hole of a golf course, the first day on a new job, or even something as simple as the first time you sit in the driver’s seat of a new car. There are some jitters, some nerves, it just feels a little bit different.

For the Golden Knights, they have a group perfectly ready for that situation because they’ve been in it tons of times before.

Typically guys are a little more aggressive to start a period so the pressure comes at you much quicker. -Roy

To start the 2nd period, Roy and the fourth line lost the draw, this time with McDavid and Draisaitl on the ice together. However, Kolesar quickly threw a hit, they blocked a shot, and eventually worked the puck in deep to the other side of the ice before changing for Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone, and Brett Howden.

Winning these matchups will continue to be paramount for the Golden Knights going forward.

So far, Vegas seems to have the answer, stick with what’s been working all season long.

Until we can’t that’s probably how we’re going to look at it. -Cassidy

It’s 40 seconds at the start of a 1,200-second period but getting off the ice with McDavid and Draisaitl doing nothing is very much something for the Golden Knights.


Oilers on Golden Knights: “It’s Nothing They Did”, “Nothing To Worry About”




  1. Rashaad

    This is crazy Ken, it’s like you read my mind. I was literally thinking this yesterday how we always start the fourth line. I think in someways that’s a bit intimidating showing the opposition that you are not afraid of oppositions best players.

    • knights fan in minny

      starting the forth line is nothing new they have been doing it since year 1 reaves carrier and nosek

  2. Rashaad– there is probably more to your statement than what you realize – not afraid of the opposition. There is a lot of mind games at play in sports which can’t be taken lightly. Whether it is apparent or not it is still there and is effective.

  3. Tim

    There was an old saying when I was in the service that relates to Edmonton and that is( I fear the face of no man and the ass of no woman ) that’s my answer to Edmonton they can stick it where the sun don’t shine those arrogant assholes

  4. Jailbird

    Game two getting close now. I’m excited but not nervous. If we are destined to win the cup, must play and beat the best. Our boys will decide what their best is today. May it be up to the level required to win this game. Go get them boys!

  5. Satan

    This is Satan.

    Gerrard Galkant has been fired from the New York Rangers.

    Satan has spoken

  6. TS

    Fyi: Gerard Gallant was fired! After the series’ loss, NY sent him packing— even though he had a pretty good season, got his team into the Playoffs.
    Guess it’s not only VGK Mgmt that is quick to pull the trigger on a coach. Hockey is a fickle beast. SORRY for Gallant…bad ending to a good season..

    • THE hockey GOD

      he remained stubborn to the end, refused to change roster or lines


  7. Emmanuel

    Id like to see advanced stats on the 4th line. Im not sure dumping the puck is a good move……ever.

  8. TS

    What the hell is HAPPENING?#?#?#? 4 goals in 1st????

  9. THE hockey GOD

    checking in from rink, this article and it’s title jinxed the team

    also , the coaching staff did not have team ready to match the intensity level of the Oilers. This is on the jinxed article and it’s mentality, as well as on the coaching staff.

    The coaching staff failed to call much needed time out.

    Not good, as oilers have now found their game. The rest of series will be
    very, very, very difficult for the VGK.

  10. TS

    Kane is a POS dirty player. A true Shark POS. PDB must be so.proud…

  11. bobo

    two questions:
    1) why are there so many empty seats at 5 minutes into the 3rd? Saw some leave in the 2nd, did they not come back?
    2) VGK have got to stop with the lazy stick infractions and whacks and just try to keep up with the Oil. Better way to stay out of the box. Skate, don’t throw your stick around – now even Brass is into it.

  12. TS


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