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Which Is The Golden Knights' Best Line?

Neal-Haula-Perron or Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith; take your pick

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

When you look at the Edmonton Oilers ahead of tonight's game, who makes up their top line is simple.

Simple in that whichever line Connor McDavid centers, that's the first line.

Since last season, this line has mostly consisted of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon. Game in and game out, whoever the Oilers play, this is the first line.

For the Golden Knights, which line is the team's first line is a bit harder to answer.

Part of this is that Vegas doesn't have a bona fide offensive superstar quite like McDavid, or even on the level of Draisaitl. Instead, the Golden Knights roll four lines, where maybe the top line doesn't pack the star power of a McDavid line, but the bottom line isn't necessarily as low as many other team's fourth lines.

And through rolling these four lines and not having a soft underbelly to its lineup, Vegas has a chance to win. Which at 10-5-1, is something the Golden Knights have done better so far than any expansion team in NHL history.

Through all of this, however, two lines have established themselves as the team's go-to contributors on offense. Except with them being so evenly matched, we're not sure which one should be referred to as the team's "first" line.

Here are the cases for both. We invite you to join the conversation on social media and tell us which line you think is Vegas' first line.

Video: WPG@VGK: Neal finds the net for PPG while falling

 

Option 1: David Perron-Erik Haula-James Neal

With six goals in Vegas' first four games, James Neal was carrying the Golden Knights' offense in early October.

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And with nine goals, he's still the team's leading goal scorer. Vegas' leading point scorer, however, is now David Perron, who's played on a line with Neal since the beginning of the season.

Perron has 14 points (5G, 9A) in 16 games, while Neal has nine goals and four assists.

Since November 2 in Boston, Perron and Neal have been centered by Erik Haula, who himself has three goals and three assists in five games playing on this line.

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This line has the Golden Knights' two leading scorers, as well as a player producing at a higher rate than any point in his career.

 

Video: VGK@NYR: Perron beats Lundqvist on penalty shot

 

Option 2: Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith

As of late, nobody on the Golden Knights has been scoring at a hotter pace than William Karlsson.

With six goals in his past 10 games, Karlsson has equaled how many goals he scored in 81 games last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the past three weeks. Karlsson's hot streak almost completely coincides with his move from wing to center, and being placed between Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith.

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Marchessault, with four goals and six assists, doesn't have the bulk of points that Neal or Perron have, but has only played in 13 games. Diving in a bit deeper, he's also the team's advanced statistics champion, driving possession of the puck at a higher rate than any player on the team.

 

Video: WPG@VGK: Karlsson nets his second on break for SHG

 

So even if his points are a bit behind the leaders, the rate the Golden Knights have outplayed the competition is a bit higher.

Reilly Smith, meanwhile, has four points in his past four games and is on pace for more than 25 goals and 65 points for the season.

As a whole, no line has controlled the puck better than this one, and it has some potent points totals to match.

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