**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**
Sometimes, good things emerge out of adversity.
In the case of the Golden Knights, they might have more depth on the blue line than they originally thought.
With Alex Pietrangelo in COVID protocol and Brayden McNabb on Long Term IR with a lower-body injury, coach Pete DeBoer was forced to shuffle his defensive deck over the weekend against Los Angeles.
He knew what he had in veteran Nick Holden, so putting him back on the ice was easy. DeBoer wasn’t quite sure what he’d get from Dylan Coghlan, and, to a lesser extent, Nicolas Hague.
What he got was pleasantly surprising.
Hague looks extremely comfortable playing alongside another youngster — Zach Whitecloud. He put Coghlan with Holden and the two seemed to click. The other D-pair — Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez — moved up to the No. 1 unit.
Understand that in this weird, bizarre year, things are going to crop up periodically. How your team responds is what likely determines whether you’ll be playing in mid-May and make a run at the Stanley Cup. In the Knights’ case, there has to be a rise in the overall comfort level knowing the young guys can step in and contribute, that they don’t need to be skating up the street at the Orleans Arena with the Henderson Silver Knights.
It’s safe to say Whitecloud isn’t leaving the lineup anytime soon. He continues to display the kind of poise usually reserved for someone with far more NHL experience. He may be the most pleasant surprise of this young season so far.
He’s running DeBoer’s system perfectly, supporting the attack and getting involved offensively. Such was the case with his first goal of the season Sunday. He cruised into the open space, unnoticed by the Kings, then got the puck and ripped one past Calvin Petersen.
Defensively, he’s growing more steady and confident. The turnovers don’t come as frequently and he’s settling in and not having to worry that if he makes a mistake or two he’ll find himself a member of the taxi squad, or worse, wearing a Silver Knights uniform.
Hague is also proving to be worthy of DeBoer’s trust. He is using his size effectively and like Whitecloud, is integrating himself in the attack. The fact his skating has improved so much the past four years is a credit to Hague’s hard work as well as listening to the organization’s coaches.
Coghlan was the wild card. He made his NHL debut Friday against the Kings and paired with the experienced Holden, who could cover his back, Coghlan did a good job overall in the Knights’ 5-2 win. Playing with Marc-Andre Fleury in net didn’t hurt his cause either.
We all know Pietrangelo is important to the team’s Cup hopes. He will likely be back Tuesday against Anaheim at T-Mobile Arena. And that’s a good thing. Yes, Pietrangelo may not be off to a scorching start. But for him, this is like preseason, trying to learn a new system, playing with new teammates, and adjusting his family’s day-to-day life in a new city.
He will get better as he gets more comfortable. He has shown glimpses of that. So I’m not worried about him.