For the first time this postseason, the Vegas Golden Knights will be facing elimination when they host the Washington Capitals for Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena. It’s an unfamiliar spot for Vegas, which has led to questions about whether Gerard Gallant should change his lineup for Thursday’s do-or-die game.
Gallant is not afraid to shake things up, and we saw that in Game 4 when he removed David Perron from the lineup and inserted Tomas Tatar. It’s unknown whether Perron, who rotated in with the third line during Wednesday’s practice, will re-enter the lineup in Game 5. Another player who could potentially play, though, is William Carrier.
The physical 6-foot-2, 212-pound winger has been out since Game 5 of the second round against the San Jose Sharks when he suffered an undisclosed injury. Aside from a barrage of compliments, Gallant didn’t say much when asked about the possibility of Carrier entering the lineup.
“I think what you see with Will Carrier is he is a fast guy, he’s a heavy guy, he skates really well, and he goes to the net,” said Gallant. “He’s played really good hockey for us and if we decide to put him in the lineup tomorrow night, that is what he will bring to us.”
If Carrier were to play in Game 5, I think it’s safe to assume that he would take Ryan Reaves’ spot on the fourth line. Reaves does have two goals this postseason, and he has been effective throughout this series, but he just doesn’t have the speed Carrier brings to the table.
Another possibility is scratching Ryan Carpenter for Carrier or Perron. If that were the case, I would assume the fourth line of Reaves, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek would remain intact, while Carrier or Perron would slide onto a line with Cody Eakin and Tatar.
Following practice on Wednesday, Gallant mentioned how before the playoffs began the team discussed the idea of potentially using 30 guys this postseason. While they are not quite at 30 guys, the Knights have used 22 different players this postseason.
In other words, don’t rule out any possible lineup combination from Turk. If I had to guess, though, I think we will see Perron re-enter the lineup for Game 5 while Carpenter takes a seat.
The main reason for that prediction is that Vegas uses its wingers to take some situational draws, and Perron, like Carpenter, is right-handed, while Carrier is left-handed. You might scoff at something like handedness, but when it comes to situational draws, it matters. It’s something Reaves, who is also right-handed, has working for him and will likely help keep him in the lineup for Game 5.
If you could make a change to the lineup for Game 5 what would it be?
This poll is closed
Scratch Carpenter, play David Perron
Scratch Carpenter, play William Carrier
Scratch Ryan Reaves, play William Carrier
Scratch Ryan Reaves, play David Perron
I wouldn’t change anything
UPDATE: It looks like we have ourselves a couple of changes for Game 5.
Carpenter and Reaves skated this morning. Carrier and Perron did not. Draw your own conclusions re: tonight’s lineup— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) June 7, 2018