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Vegas coach Gallant makes a controversial lineup change ahead of critical Game 4

This is a BOLD strategy! Good move?

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Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is often held up as a prime example of what people in hockey refer to as a “player’s coach.” Meaning, he’s the type of coach who stands up for his players and does all he can to avoid the adversarial position that more traditional coaches take on with their players. 

Gallant’s “players first” mentality was on full display following Game 3 when the assembled media grilled him on the play of young defenseman Shea Theodore who struggled mightily last night and ended up seeing his ice time plummet from 22:04 in Game 2 to just 18:21 in Game 3.

You may recall Theodore’s blunder that led to Devante Smith-Pelly’s goal, which essentially sealed the game for the Caps:

Not pretty…

This was even uglier…

Yikes… 

When Gallant was questioned about Theodore’s play specifically and the head coach was ready to take anyone to task for their criticism of his young defenseman. Check out this defense of his young, up and coming blue liner:

“He plays the game like everybody else. He made a couple mistakes that ended up in the back of our net. A lot of guys make mistakes in hockey games and they don’t end up in the back of the net. Shea is a 22 year old kid who I love. He’s a great player. He’s going to be a star in this league.”

How’s THAT for sticking up for your players!? It’s clear to see why Vegas has had so much success this season, it’s because they have a coach who’ll go through a wall for them.

One player who hasn’t had much luck under coach Gallant however is trade deadline acquisition Tomas Tatar. Since being acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a first, a second and a third round pick, Tatar has struggled to stay in the Knights’ lineup. The 27 year old Slovak sniper has managed to get into just six of the Knights’ 18 games this post season. 

Well, get ready for game 7 Tommy Boy because you’re goin’ in…

So now the question is… who comes out? It looks like veteran David Perron will suffer that fate, but Gallant has yet to confirm whether or not this is indeed the plan.

Interesting… replace one underperforming veteran with another and hope for the best? If nothing else, Tatar will be motivated to make a difference tonight in DC and that’s exactly what the Golden Knights need after being absolutely stymied in Game 3 by a much sharper Capitals team.