The Vegas Golden Knights are going to be down arguably their best player for some time. The Jack Eichel injury is listed as week-to-week, according to reports. This comes after surgery for a lower-body ailment. That injury happened during the game against the Boston Bruins, which they won 2-1. Just how big of a loss is Eichel for the Golden Knights?
Jack Eichel Injury: Star Centre Out Week-to-Week
Eichel, who currently has 44 points (19 goals and 25 assists) in 42 games, is tied for the team-lead in points with Mark Stone. That puts Eichel on pace for roughly 85 points in an 82-game season. In other words, before the injury, he was on track for his best season in his career, points-wise. But perhaps what is even more worrisome for the Golden Knights, outside of just point production, is the play-driving he brings. With Eichel on the ice, the Golden Knights have an expected goals for% of 55.6%. When Eichel is off the ice, that drops to 48.1%. That 48.1% mark with Eichel off the ice is the fifth worst mark of any individual mark when off-ice. Only Shea Theodore, Jonathan Marchessault, Pavel Dorofeyev, and Mark Stone see the teams expected goals for numbers plummet lower when they are off the ice.
Who Will Replace Eichel’s Role
Ahead of their game on Thursday, the expected Vegas lines are as follows:
Ivan Barbashev–Nicolas Roy-Jonathan Marchessault
Pavel Dorofeyev-Chandler Stephenson-Mark Stone
Paul Cotter–Michael Amadio–Brendan Brisson
Keegan Kolesar–Brett Howden–Jonas Rondbjerg
Roy steps into the top line, splitting between Barbashev and Marchessault. Overall, with that combination, there’s been considerable success. Overall, in 29 minutes together this season, that make-shift first line has a 67% expected goals percentage. However, in the final 12 minutes of their last game, that line had that percentage drop to 45% (according to MoneyPuck). They have to step up and play better, especially late in games. As for who steps into the lineup, it’s Brendan Brisson who gets slotted in as the third line right-wing. That line wound up playing 8:39 together in the last game, and they recorded a 62% expected goals mark. Brisson loves to shoot, with five shots in his only game this season. However, two were blocked, and only one hit the net. Additionally, the three shots that went unblocked were all from low-danger. Brisson needs to do a better job if he wants to be the shooter on that line.
Moving Forward With The Jack Eichel Injury
The Golden Knights have noticeably struggled, even prior to the Jack Eichel injury, of late. In their last ten games, they have gone 4-6-0, including losses in four of their last seven. Those losses have been ugly as well, by a combined score of 13-2. Over the next two weeks, they will take on the New York Rangers (twice), the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders, and the Detroit Red Wings. That’s three teams currently in the playoff picture, and that does not include the surging Penguins (6-2-2 in their last ten). It also does not include the talented but underperforming Devils. They have two sets of back-to-back games as well, making the schedule even more daunting.
Brisson and Roy will likely feel the most pressure, but the second line of Dorofeyev, Stephenson and Stone will also be pressured into maintaining their so far dominant performances this season. With Eichel out, the Golden Knights schedule will not be easy. According to MoneyPuck, a loss in Thursday’s contest against the Rangers will drop their playoff odds by nearly five percent (69.3% odds with a loss).
Stats from MoneyPuck
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