Both the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks have been dealing with injuries, with the Golden Knights in the process of getting some bodies back from long term grief. Maybe just in time for Tuesday’s head-to-head ‘regular season playoff game’ at Rogers Arena.
Vegas’s top-line left winger Max Pacioretty returned Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes after a month-long absence and scored the game-winning-goal on four shots and 14:37 of ice time. ‘Patch’ typically plays on the top power play unit.
Big bottom-six winger William Carrier has been dinged up multiple times and has been in and out of the line-up, last departing on March 26th against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s listed as day-to-day as is defenceman Nicolas Hague, out since March 15th.
Bad news for Vegas and continued good news for the Canucks and the rest of the playoff pursuing pack is the fact that forwards Reilly Smith and Mark Stone remain on long-term injured reserve. Smith has been out since March 8th while Stone and his bad back conveniently went on LTIR and freed up cap space just before the club signed Jack Eichel in February.
That’s a whole different topic, one discussed by NHL General Managers at their recent meeting in Florida. Either way, the Golden Knights remain without their captain.
Yes, injuries happen and coaches say they shouldn’t be used as an excuse, but with Vegas’s laundry list of maladies, including time missed earlier this season by number-one goalie Robin Lehner, it’s a pretty good explanation as to why the Golden Knights aren’t comfortably in a playoff spot.
With Brock Boeser out of the line-up this past week the Canucks out-scored their opponents in three games a cumulative 14-to-4 and Vancouver Head Coach Bruce Boudreau is very much a ‘stick with what works’ kind of coach. That might mean a gradual return from an upper body injury for the 25-year-old streaky, righty sniper. Nothing like a little ice time controversy during the stretch drive.
Boeser and Tanner Pearson, who suffered an upper-body injury at Arizona and missed Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, are day-to-day and could practice with the club later this morning (Monday).
That’s actually it for Vancouver Canucks who are expected to return this season. Brandon Sutter and Nils Höglander would not be on that list.
Playoff Window Cracked
Only one game in the NHL Monday night and it’s of interest to the Canucks. The Winnipeg Jets, fresh off beating the Ottawa Senators on Sunday 4-3, are in Montreal to take on the Canadiens. If Winnipeg wins they’d hop a point ahead of Vancouver with the Canucks holding a game-in-hand.
Otherwise, the Canucks sit six points back of the 3rd place LA Kings in the Pacific Division with a game in-hand. Vancouver is six and seven points removed from the wild card slots presently occupied by the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars. Both of those teams have a game in-hand.
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