Despite having to deal with a never-ending rash of injuries and illnesses, Vegas Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer remains upbeat heading into Thursday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings in Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights found out before Tuesday’s 4-2 home loss to Carolina that forward Jonathan Marchessault, who leads the team with nine goals, had entered COVID protocol joining forward William Carrier who was placed there on Monday.
The Golden Knights, who are 8-3 in their last 11 games, were already without key players like left wing Max Pacioretty (fractured left foot), center William Karlsson (broken foot), center Nolan Patrick (upper body), and defensemen Zach Whitecloud (hand surgery) and Alec Martinez (facial laceration).
Defenseman Shea Theodore left Tuesday’s loss after losing an edge and crashing into the end boards and Evgenii Dadonov also left with a facial laceration after getting hit in the face with a stick. The team added forward Michael Amadio to COVID protocol on Wednesday and also canceled its planned media availability.
Vegas is also without center Jack Eichel, obtained in a trade with Buffalo on Nov. 4, until the end of the February after he underwent artificial disc replacement surgery in his neck on Nov. 12.
“You’ve got to look for a silver lining,” DeBoer said after Tuesday’s loss. “Hopefully the silver lining is we’ll deal with it now and maybe we’ll get a little luck in the injury front down the stretch and at the important time of the year. That’s all you can hope for.”
“I don’t think anybody’s going to feel sorry for the Vegas Golden Knights in this league,” added forward Mark Stone, who recently returned from a right knee injury that sidelined him 12 games. “The success we’ve had in four years, nobody’s feeling sorry for us, so we’ve got to find ways to generate points, generate wins.”
DeBoer said he couldn’t remember coaching a team with so many players sidelined.
“I’m not sure I’ve been through a stretch like this before,” said DeBoer, “but the league doesn’t slow down or stop for you or feel sorry for you, so you have to roll out there and try and find a way to win games.”
Detroit will be playing the third game of a four-game road trip that began with a 5-3 loss at Columbus on Monday followed by a 5-2 defeat at Dallas on Tuesday. Captain Dylan Larkin, who has scored four goals over the last three games, was removed from the loss to the Stars after the second period and placed into COVID protocol and remained in Dallas when the team flew to Las Vegas.
Detroit had cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 on goals by Filip Zadina and Larkin before Larkin’s departure.
“Obviously, he’s our leader, he drives the bus for this team, and he had that big goal at the end of the second period,” Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “Not having him in the third obviously was a big loss. But we have to step up in those circumstances and get the team going.”
Jason Robertson made it 4-2 with a goal at 3:48 of the third and then sealed the win with an empty net goal.
The Red Wings have now allowed five goals in three of their last four road games, a fact that hasn’t escaped head coach Jeff Blashill.
“We’ve got to get better defensively,” Blashill said. “That’s just the reality of it. We’re a pretty good team when we have the puck, we’re a pretty good team when we’re hounding, we’re a pretty good team when we’re playing offense. We’re not a good enough team defensively right now. … That, to me, is the No. 1 priority.”
The Red Wings won the only previous meeting between the two teams this season, 5-2, on Nov. 7 in Detroit behind 38 saves by Thomas Greiss and a goal and an assist by both Pius Suter and Tyler Bertuzzi.
–Field Level Media