NHL Playoffs: Is William Karlsson Dealing with Injury? Vegas Lineup Changes Coming?

William Karlsson celebrates a goal. Photo via Getty Images

William Karlsson won 56.2% of his faceoffs during the regular season. Karlsson took 12 faceoffs in game one and 10 faceoffs in game two vs. the Dallas Stars. Tomas Hertl was moved to the third line ahead of Saturday’s game three, and Karlsson missed the pre-game skate for an undisclosed reason.

Hertl took 20 faceoffs to Karlsson’s two on Saturday.

At first, everyone assumed coach Bruce Cassidy was looking to create a spark by shifting swapping Brett Howden and Hertl. After all, Howden had great chemistry with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson during the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It turns out there is something more behind Hertl being moved to the third line.

Cassidy was asked if Karlsson taking fewer faceoffs was by design during Sunday’s presser.

“Right now it is, yes.” Cassidy kept his answer short.

Jack Eichel took fewer faceoffs during the final weeks of the 2021-22 regular season. It turned out Eichel was playing with a broken thumb which is why he took less faceoffs.

For the moment, we do not know the extent of Karlsson’s injury, if that is in fact the reason limiting his ability to take faceoffs.

Possible Lineup Changes Ahead of Game Four?

The middle six forward group was largely ineffective during Saturday’s overtime loss to the Stars.

The line of Hertl, Karlsson, and Anthony Mantha were the lowest ranked forwards per HockeyStatCards.

There is a good chance that Cassidy goes back to the line of Stephenson, Stone, and Hertl. Would Howden drop back to the wing on Karlsson’s line?

Howden was 45.1% in the faceoff circle during the 2023-24 regular season, less than ideal. Another option coach Cassidy can look at is moving Howden to the fourth line center and elevating Nic Roy on the wing of Karlsson’s line. Roy was slightly better than Howden, with a 46.8% faceoff win rate.

A shutdown line could be created by elevating Roy to the third line with Karlsson and Mantha. Roy was plus-8 in the 2023-24 regular season vs. Howden’s minus-11. Stars coach Pete DeBoer created a potent line of Jason Robertson, Wyatt Johnston, and Roope Hintz in Saturday’s game three. Johnston had two goals, including the eventual overtime game-winner. Coach Cassidy needs an answer to DeBoer’s new forward line.

Michael Amadio, Paul Cotter, and Pavel Dorofeyev have been healthy scratches for the first three games of the series. Dorofeyev would be the most likely forward to draw in if coach Cassidy was looking for a spark. Amadio and Cotter are unlikely to draw in for reasons beyond injury in this series.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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