It’s no secret the Golden Knights are banged up. Heck, I think I’ve started every one of the last 10 stories I’ve written with some version of that statement. But the fact of the matter is whether it’s the play on the ice, the discussions off it, or anything in between, it’s affecting everything surrounding the team right now.
One such place we’re seeing that effect is in playing time. The Golden Knights have played a lot of hockey and traveled three times (one of which had complications) in the past eight days. Pete DeBoer is convinced fatigue is one of the main reasons his team threw away a three goal lead last night.
It’s that time of year, you look around the league and there’s a lot of blown leads. Teams don’t quite have things locked down yet. I think you combine that with five games in eight nights this week and some tired guys. We put some big minutes on guys with some of the injuries and I think we ran out of a little bit of gas and lost some momentum there. -DeBoer
Of the Golden Knights top four minute-getters at forward and defense, six are on pace to set career highs in average time on ice per game.
|This Season||Last Season||Career High|
Of course, as stated above, there’s a reason for it, and it’s unlikely the massive minute loads will continue, but the recognition by the coach matters.
DeBoer seems well aware that he’s overdoing it with the most important players he has left. It’s a delicate balancing act to continue staying competitive in these games while not burning guys out in games that ultimately will not decide the winner of the Stanley Cup.
When Stone, Pacioretty, Whitecloud, and eventually Tuch all return, everyone’s minutes will lessen, but the damage could already be done by that point. If the Golden Knights are admitting fatigue just eight games into the season, what will it look like in Game 100 when they are playing to win the Western Conference Final?
No one expects the NHL to head down the NBA path of “rest days” or “LeBron’s toenail need to be cut so he’s out tonight,” but the Golden Knights are going to have to have a heightened sense of awareness this season considering the missing players.
This was a huge week for us. We were staring at an absolutely potentially disastrous start, instead of just a bad start, and I think guys have dug deep to get us back to .500 here. -DeBoer
Now they have some breathing room. Might be time to let the big guys breathe.