In a must-win situation, the Vegas Golden Knights need to make a change to their lineup for game four.
Let’s face it Vegas Golden Knights nation, game three of the Stanley Cup Final was not a fun experience. The Washington Capitals heavily outplayed the expansion franchise in almost every facet of the game. Even Head Coach Gerard Gallant didn’t have a lot of nice things to say after the game.
When asked about Shea Theodore’s rough contest on Saturday, he downplayed it and said they needed to be better as a team. Gallant has always been about the team first even when evaluating a particular player. That’s one of the many reasons why he’s going to win the Jack Adams award in a few weeks.
However, he is challenged under the most significant circumstances possible. Being down two games to one isn’t the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination especially for this hockey club. But going down three games to one and facing elimination traveling back home in game five is an uphill battle.
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So what can the Jack Adams finalist do to make sure this series goes back to T-Mobile Arena tied at two games apiece? Well, Gallant has hinted at making a lineup change or two ahead of game four after Sunday’s optional skate. Although, he didn’t elaborate on any certain moves so we’ll have to wait and see whats in store at morning skate Monday.
One move Gallant has to consider is putting Tomas Tatar back in the lineup. The last time Gallant added Tatar back to the lineup we all know what happened. Game two against the Winnipeg Jets and the Ilava, Czechoslovakia native scored the games first goal, and the Golden Knights never looked back in that series.
The 27-year old also has good splits against the Capitals. In 14 career games against Washington, he notched six goals, three assists, nine points and a +5 rating. Here’s the mind-blowing stat: Four of Tatar’s six goals against the Caps have come in the 2017-18 regular season while he was with Detroit Red Wings.
It almost seems like a no-brainer to get Tatar back in the fold. However, who does Gallant take out? Something needs to change to the middle two forward lines as they have been struggling mightily in the Stanley Cup Final.
Carpenter is not an offensive juggernaut by any stretch. The stat line in the playoffs proves that as he has only accumulated five assists in 16 games played. But the Oviedo, Florida native gives Gallant a lot of versatility, and he can use him on faceoffs.
Perron hasn’t been able to get anything going for much of these playoffs, and that’s really unfortunate. His last goal came on March 4th against the New Jersey Devils. That being said, the Golden Knights have to hope he breaks out of his slump because his skill set is needed in this series.
In my opinion, you need as much skill as possible when going against the Capitals. I love what Carpenter brings to the team, but Perron and Tatar bring a higher upside of creating scoring opportunities. The lineup change to make is Tomas Tatar in, Ryan Carpenter out.
All in all, whatever Gallant decides to do with his lineup is in his hands. He could throw a curveball and add Oscar Lindberg in the mix, but I don’t see that happening. Monday morning’s skate will give us a better indication of who’s in and who’s out.