- The Vegas Golden Knights got some much needed good news on the injury front as captain Mark Stone won’t require surgery.
- Vegas has been hit by a rash of injuries in the early days of the NHL regular season.
- Forward Max Pacioretty remains out, and is considered ‘week to week’ with a broken foot.
The Vegas Golden Knights are expected to be back in contention for the Stanley Cup this season but to do so they’ll have to overcome an early season spate of injuries. The most significant of these were suffered by team captain Mark Stone and top goal scorer Max Pacioretty. Both players left the team’s 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings last Thursday with what was described as ‘lower body injuries’. The injury to Pacioretty was diagnosed as a broken foot that is expected to keep the forward out six weeks or more. The team has described his playing status as ‘week to week’. The extent of Stone’s injury wasn’t immediately clear.
Stone’s status received more clarity today as head coach Peter DeBoer announced that the VGK captain would not need surgery. That’s the good news–the bad news is that there’s not a firm timeline for his return. Here’s how DeBoer explained the situation:
“He went and saw some doctors yesterday. Nothing surgical, which is good. I would say day to day, but it’s probably in between day to day and week to week. Good news for the most part.”
The equation that DeBoer poses is a tough one to figure out. If a player is ‘day to day’ it suggest that his return is fairly imminent. Week to week suggests that he’ll be out for awhile–as in the case of Pacioretty who is listed as ‘week to week’ and expected to be out for more than a month. Lacking additional clarity on the nature and severity of Stone’s injury we’ll split the difference and speculate that Stone will be gone at least two weeks.
Pacioretty is a potent offensive force but Stone’s absence is even more difficult to fill. He was the team’s leading scorer last year with 61 points in 55 games. He’s also one of the best defensive forwards in the league and the team’s emotional leader in addition to wearing the ‘C’ on his sweater. There is optimism that Vegas will be able to weather the early season injuries and the team got some good news with the return to practice of forwards Brett Howden, Nicholas Roy and William Carrier. Highly touted rookies Peyton Krebs and Jake Leschyshyn were also called up from the AHL Henderson Silver Knights. Roy and Evgenii Dadonov replaced Pacioretty and Stone on the top line at practice today between center Chandler Stevenson. Roy reiterated what his coach said at the time of Stone and Pacioretty’s injuries:
“It’s tough for us. Obviously, it’s probably our two best players. Some guys are going to have to step up, and there’s going to be opportunities there. Some guys have to take them and work hard there.”
VGK defenseman Zach Whitecloud thinks the team has the depth and talent to win with Stone and Pacioretty out of action:
“With those two key guys out of our lineup, everyone knows that they have to step up. It’s not just the defensemen. Obviously everyone knows who’s out of the lineup. It’s on us as a team to step up and fill what they do on a nightly basis.”
“Obviously, with our two big guys out like that, we’re going to have to win games different ways. I think we’re a team that can do that. We have the personnel and the depth to do that.”
Head coach DeBoer is hoping that the absence of Stone and Pacioretty will help his team become more focused on details–and improve their defensive tactics:
“There’s a heightened awareness with those guys out of the lineup to make sure we’ve got that detail in our game maybe earlier in the season than you normally would. We’re two games in, but we’re going to need that in order to keep our head above water here.”
Working in Vegas’ favor–they play four of their next six games at T-Mobile Arena and will enjoy a six game home stand in early November.