While there is always a lot of attention placed on the Vegas Golden Knights top six forwards, the second half of the lineup has not-so-quietly been making its mark for the team over the course of a six-game win streak.
Once again on Sunday in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the bottom six forwards chipped in offensively. Nic Roy scored for the third time in four games and Alex Tuch sealed the victory into an empty net for his 16th goal of the season, also his third in the last four games. Plus Tuch is second on the team in goals, one ahead of Mark Stone (15) and six behind Max Pacioretty (22).
It’s now been nine straight games with a goal from the bottom six forwards for the VGK, an impressive streak.
Vegas Golden Knights Insider Gary Lawless spoke about Roy’s resurgence in the last several games.
“Nic Roy – you can’t pretend that his season hasn’t been disappointing until the last 10 games or so, but all of a sudden he has… eight points in his last nine games. You’d rather be good at the end of the season than at the beginning of it. I think this is a really important development for the Golden Knights as they get ready for the playoffs. One part of it is, he’s got a job and a role now. He’s the center of the fourth line. I think it’s a really good spot for him.”
Even Roy himself says his confidence is up more lately after starting the season feeling like he wasn’t getting the breaks.
“Lately I’ve been lucky that the same bounces… they went in. I’m playing with a lot more confidence right now.”
Alex Tuch has used his speed all season long to contribute offensively but occasionally goes cold when it comes to scoring. The addition of Mattias Janmark seems to compliment Tuch’s speed even more, and the Golden Knights look confident in the bottom of the lineup despite missing Ryan Reaves and Keegan Kolesar due to injuries right now.
“It’s going to be really interesting when Kolesar and Reaves are back,” said Lawless. “They’re probably going to have to fight for that spot on the right side (of the fourth line).”
Indeed the Golden Knights are spoiled for choice in the bottom six, and that’s even with Cody Glass in Henderson of the AHL. Tomas Jurco has filled in really well, providing flexibility in the lineup and hard-working minutes. Will Carrier is playing excellent hockey and not only creating space but opportunities when he’s out there. Tomas Nosek has battled injuries a bit lately but is also contributing when healthy, picking up another assist Sunday to give him points in three of his last four games (2-3-5).
“I think early in the year we struggled in that department (bottom-six production),” said head coach Pete DeBoer. “I thought we had a turning point even before they started scoring… that was with Will (Carrier) and Reaves and Nosek at the time. Really it’s been a strength for us since then. Tuchy (Alex Tuch) has been consistent for us all year. Nic Roy is starting to score now. I think they’re all playing at a better level than they were in the first month of the season.”
If the Vegas Golden Knights are going to beat out the Colorado Avalanche for first in the division, they have their work cut out for them due to a tougher schedule ahead. If they’re able to snatch the Honda West Division crown, it will be thanks in large part to contributions up and down the lineup – especially the resurgent VGK bottom six.