New season, but the same issues have occurred for the Vegas Golden Knights injuries. Last season was a nightmare in that regard and the team missed the playoffs because of it. However, this season has gone better in terms of their response. The injuries have occurred, but the team has overcome those injuries. As it currently stands, the Vegas Golden Knights sit in first place in the Pacific Division.
Vegas Golden Knights Injuries Not Keeping Team Down
Injuries happen and that’s the nature of the beast in the sports world. The Vegas Golden Knights injuries popped up frequently, and they’ve had key players miss the lineup throughout the entire year. Jack Eichel has missed time twice in the month of December, Alex Pietrangelo missed time for personal reasons, and Zach Whitecloud is out for the next month. That is to name a few. To be without your franchise centre and number-one defenseman is never ideal.
Golden Knights' Stone week-to-week with upper-body injury https://t.co/TEY72wQJjR pic.twitter.com/9yvdnzrYWq
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) January 13, 2023
To make matters worse, the team is still currently without Shea Theodore and, now, most notably, captain Mark Stone. He is listed as week to week with an upper-body injury. Last season the team was crushed by the injury bug, and even though they have experienced it this year they have weathered the storm.
The Bright Spots
It is really amazing to see the depth step up the way it has with key guys out. Most notably up front, but the back end has held its own. Depth scoring was an issue under Bruce Cassidy during his time in Boston, but his crew in Vegas has depth players having career seasons and chipping in when they have to.
Weathering The Wave Of Injuries
It is one thing to have injuries, but it is another to overcome them. And despite being down key pieces, Vegas has weathered the storm. Bruce Cassidy has four lines he can count on for production, and some unlikely names are helping carry the load. Chandler Stephenson currently leads the team in scoring (40 points), and Reilly Smith leads the team in goals (19). You also have key players and long-time Golden Knights William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault producing, but there are unsung heroes helping pave the way.
The man is a swiss army knife for the Vegas Golden Knights. This is a player Bruce Cassidy has played on every line. He has spent the most amount of time on the top line with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson but has also spent time with big-time players in Marchessault and Karlsson. Here is how it has looked for him:
59 minutes together
One goal together as a line, two against.
35 minutes together
2 goals as a line. None against.
Not only has he made the most of his time with impact players, but he is also a good player in his own right. All of his production has come at 5v5 ( 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points). He plays a rugged style which bodes well playing with skilled players and is not afraid to get in on the forecheck.
He sits third on the team with 80 hits, has a 50% faceoff win percentage, and a 15.6 shooting percentage. Not bad for a guy who can play everywhere. His possession metrics aren’t the greatest as he has a 43% Corsi For, and a 49.7 expected goals percentage. Overall a good utility player who is able to fill in nicely and produce.
The Fourth Line
One line that has helped overcome the Vegas Golden Knights injuries is the fourth line. Aside from the top line when they are healthy, the fourth line has the second most goals as a line that has played together for at least 75 minutes. This line is composed of Nicolas Roy, William Carrier, and Keegan Kolesar.
Being able to count on production from your fourth line is massive. As a line, they have scored 14 goals and average 2.94 Goals For per 60 minutes. In addition, they are exceeding expectations as they have an expected goal share of 54.1%, and their expected goals as a line is 2.79 per game. From a possession standpoint, they have a 47.89 Corsi For Percentage. They are not afraid to go to high-danger areas. 10 of the line’s goals have come from the area, and when they are on the ice, the team has generated 72 high-danger chances.
Not only are they clicking on all cylinders as a line, but they are also having great years individually. Here’s a good example to demonstrate how these guys are performing:
Carrier: in 63 games last year he tallied 20 points. This season is just 43 games he is four shy of that mark and sees a career-high in goals so far with 11.
Roy: Roy had a career year last season with 39 points. This season he has 18 points in 41 games. On his current pace he is at, he would finish three points shy of last season. But as a fourth-line centre, that is impressive. However, he is on pace to set a career-high in goals.
Kolesar: The rugged winger is known for his physicality and fighting. Like Roy, he is coming off his career-best season (24 points). He has 10 points in 42 games this season. And like Roy, he is on pace to finish a few points shy of last year but is poised to set a career-high in goals.
Why This Is Important
The Vegas Golden Knights’ injuries have been piling up, but because of this depth, they can overcome it. It is truly remarkable compared to last season, where no matter who got hurt, the damage was already done. Unfortunately, the team is still without key players, but when you have the production you can rely on, aside from your bottom six, is the difference between a good and a great team.