Golden Knights Analysis
Golden Knights Have ‘Good Problem’ With Several NHL-Level Forwards
The Vegas Golden Knights are confirmed to be headed to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs as they
The Vegas Golden Knights are confirmed to be headed to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs as they clinched Thursday. With just six games remaining in their regular season schedule, the focus is now on winning the division whilst preparing the team for the postseason.
For head coach Bruce Cassidy, trying to adjust his line combinations in a manner that sticks for the playoffs is one of his top priorities. These last couple of games have seen the Golden Knight's coach flip several players in and out of the lineup, such as Teddy Blueger, Paul Cotter, and Pavel Dorofeyev.
On top of this, three forwards are injured for the VGK, Reilly Smith, Will Carrier, and, of course, captain Mark Stone. All of which will have to be accounted for when they return from injury, with Smith being the forward expected to return first.
So this leaves Cassidy in the Golden Knights with a good problem to have with several forwards to mix and match. But it's still a problem at that. These next six games will give the Golden Knights time to experiment with their forward line combinations with low steaks, given playoffs are confirmed.
Cassidy himself is just taking things one game at a time, as injuries have plagued the VGK all season.
"We would like to get to the point where we know what we are going to look like going in. But I don't think it has been that kind of year where we can actually plan that far ahead," said coach Cassidy.
At the trade deadline, general manager Kelly McCrimmon acquired Blueger to add to the team's depth. But given the team's center depth with Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, and Nicolas Roy, moves have been made to try and get Blueger in as center.
Both Roy and Stephenson, centers by trade, have been moved to the wing, which, in turn, has kicked Cotter and Dorofeyev out of the lineup. Some players, like Stephenson, who scored just his first goal in ten games against the Wild with an empty net goal, have struggled to adjust.
"We've had those four centermen for the majority of the year. We've moved Stephey around to the wing and also Nic. I just think they are more comfortable in the middle, as is Teddy, so we've got five guys with four spots… It's a good problem to have, too many effective players," said Cassidy.
Experimenting will likely continue to be the method Cassidy and co. use in these last six games to try and get an established forward lineup together. But continuing to shuffle two rookies, a trade deadline acquisition, and two natural centers could be dangerous to each player's seasons and development.
The Golden Knights will play the Minnesota Wild again on Monday at 7:00 p.m. in St. Paul.