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Golden Knights Analysis

Golden Knights: Healthy Goalies and Other Needs Down the Stretch



The Vegas Golden Knights are in “Part Three” of the season as coach Bruce Cassidy described it recently. The first part of the season lasts through November. Teams are excited to get back on the ice while trying to find their game in the process. The Golden Knights finished “Part One” of the season 15-5-4, not a bad start for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

The second part of the season can be similar to the dog days of Baseball. It is the grind from December to the All-Star break. The Golden Knights went 14-10-2 in “Part Two” of the season.

“Part Three” of the season is when we learn who the contenders and pretenders are. Do the Vancouver Canucks have that extra gear needed down the stretch to win the Pacific Division? Did the Edmonton Oilers peak at the wrong time? Can the Los Angeles Kings get back to where they were to start the season? Will the Golden Knights repeat their 22-5-4 record during “Part Three” of last season?

Needs Down the Stretch

Two Healthy Goalies: Adin Hill is one of the NHL’s best goaltenders from a statistical perspective. Hill ranks second with a 2.00 GAA and first with a .933 SV%. Logan Thompson did a better-than-serviceable job when backing up Hill. Through his first 10 starts, Thompson had a .917 SV%. Thompson made 18 starts with Hill out injured and had a .907 SV%, which was a slight drop off from his first 10 games.

As a team, the Golden Knights rank No. 6 with a .915 SV% and No. 7 with a 2.74 GAA.

The Golden Knights goaltending has been very good this season. But when one-half of the Hill/Thompson tandem is injured, the numbers suffer. We have seen that happen when Thompson got the bulk of the starts. It is unknown how Hill’s body will respond to a starter’s workload because he has never been a full-time starter until this season in his career. Hill entered the NHL in the 2017-18 season and has not appeared in greater than 27 regular season games.

Would Hill’s numbers suffer if Thompson were to miss an extended period?

Second or third-line left-winger: Pavel Dorofeyev was better-than-serviceable in this role with 14 points in 29 games. Dorofeyev has not appeared in a game since Jan. 26 due to an upper-body injury suffered against the New York Rangers. The 23-year-old does not have an estimated date to return.

Brett Howden (13 points in 51 games) and Paul Cotter (19 points in 52 games) have shared time on the second on third-line left-wing positions and neither has taken a major step forward since last season.

Jack Eichel’s return, whenever that may be, could fill the void on the left wing. Coach Cassidy can experiment with Chandler Stephenson or Nic Roy on the left wing.

Fourth line: Injuries to Eichel and William Carrier have taken the fourth line out of play recently. Cassidy has been relying on the top three lines to get the job done. The Golden Knights are at their best when they are rolling four lines throughout the game.

If Nic Roy stays in the top three forward lines, will the fourth line be the same with Howden between Carrier and Keegan Kolesar?

Zach Whitecloud to step up: Whitecloud was a healthy scratch on Feb. 8 against the Arizona Coyotes. The 27-year-old has seen a decline in his plus/minus for the last three and a half seasons. Whitecloud was a plus-9 in 2020-21, plus-21 in 2021-22, plus-10 in 2022-23, and plus-1 in 37 games this season.