The Vegas Golden Knights have not had the best start to the 2021-22 NHL season. Vegas has been struck by the injury bug quite early in the season. This led to the Golden Knights seeing themselves play without key pieces to the lineup. Now, following their recent loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Vegas is without Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. Without their top offensive threats, the team should look towards a familiar trio to lead the way for the time being.
Why Not the Misfits?
During their inaugural season, many voices in the hockey world did not know who would lead the charge for the Golden Knights. As the season progressed, a misfit trio of forwards showcased that they were going to take control of the team. This trio was William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault.
The “Misfit Line” quickly became fan favorites following the team’s first season, especially after Karlsson’s 43-goal campaign. They became a steady hand in the flashy, smashmouth-style system that Vegas played. The “Misfits” are arguably the Golden Knights’ best two-way line throughout the history of the franchise. In their time with the Golden Knights, the line has a combined plus-minus rating of plus-207. In addition to this, Karlsson and Smith have combined for 26 short-handed points.
Despite these metrics, the “Misfits” seemed to take a step back in recent seasons. With the acquisitions of Stone and Pacioretty, the trio moved into a second-line role. With less ice time than in seasons past, it makes sense that their point totals are not at the same level of that inaugural season. They also went from being the unquestioned first power-play unit to being split up between the two units. Now, it might be time for Vegas to turn back the clock and try to recapture that first-year magic.
Golden Knights Should Let Them Lead the Way
With the recent news that Pacioretty is week-to-week with a fractured foot, it would make sense to let the “Misfits” take control over the lineup. They have been with the team the longest and understand what it takes to play up to the Golden Knights standard and are natural leaders in the locker room.
In addition to the Pacioretty injury, Stone has no timetable on when he will return. The captain is dealing with a lower-body injury that he suffered during the second period of the 6-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings. This leaves Chandler Stephenson as the lone healthy member of the top line at the moment. With this news, it would only make sense for Vegas to promote the “Misfits.”
The trio still has incredible skill. Throughout the history of the Golden Knights, Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith have been consistently amongst the top of the team leaders in points. Although they might not be the big-name players, they offer a consistent secondary scoring threat for Vegas and are dangerous every time they step on the ice.
The line is also used to playing extended minutes. Both Karlsson and Smith are featured players on the penalty kill, and all of them are key parts of the power play. Adding extra ice-time to their workload should not hinder their performance, but in fact, help bolster their production. Karlsson has proven in the past that he can elevate his production when given more ice time.
Overall, the Golden Knights find themselves in a rough spot to start the season. Injuries have already taken a toll on the roster. However, Vegas does have an answer to this problem, and it comes in the form of the team’s first-ever top line. With Vegas short-handed at the moment, it would make sense to let the “Misfits” take control.
I am a former Jr. A hockey player that is currently attending school at San Diego State University. At SDSU, I study Journalism and Public Relations while also playing on the school’s rugby team. Hockey has been a big part of my life, as I have been playing since I was three years old. Other than hockey, I enjoy watching and playing all kinds of sports.