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Knights on Ice —Knights Define Resiliency
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Friday, November 19, 2021

 

Yesterday, the VGK did not even have a morning skate, which is the norm for a game day. In the morning, they were down 11 players to injuries, COVID, or surgery. Yet somehow, this team refuses to let anything get in its way. Not even the Detroit Red Wings, who had never lost at T-Mobile. The VGK exploded for 4 goals in the second period and added another in the 3rd period for the 5-2 win.

The lineup seems to be different every game, with players who, truth be told, weren’t expected to be playing in the NHL once training camp broke. But with 11 players out, Paul Cotter, Jonas Rondbjerg, Jake Leschyshyn, Sven Baertschi, Ben Jones, Daniil Miromanov, and Ben Hutton are all with the big club and have an opportunity that under normal circumstances they would not have.

Paul Cotter has played in 4 games and has scored twice. Jake Leschyshyn has been in 15 of the VGK’s first 17 games and has 1 goal and 1 assist. Ben Hutton has played in 3 games. Jonas Rondbjerg has played in 10 games and has 1 goal and 2 assists. Daniil Miromanov has played in 3 games and has 1 assist. Sven Baertschi played his first game as a VGK last night after being a 1st round pick, 13th overall, by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 draft.

The VGK have been resilient through the first 17 games and they had to be, especially responding to losing 4 in a row after defeating Seattle Kraken on opening night. They’ve won 6 of their last 8 games and are currently 4-1 on this 6-game homestand.

They did get some encouraging news just a few hours before the 7 p.m. puck drop last night: Two of the injured players actually dressed for the game. Zach Whitecloud returned to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 22 when he broke his hand vs. Edmonton. Zach had a huge impact on the game by scoring 2 goals within 6:36 of each other; his 2nd goal was the game winner. He took the puck from Nic Roy, who won the faceoff to the left of Thomas Greiss, and fired a slap shot from the point that beat Greiss, who was pulled after stopping 18 of the 22 shots he faced in two periods. He was replaced in the third by Alex Nedeljkovic, who faced 10 shots and was beaten on nice play by Reilly Smith. It was Smith’s 6th goal of the season.

The contributions by the VGK defensemen continue; they scored 3 of last night’s 5 goals and lead the NHL in goals scored, with 14 in 17 games. Nic Hague opened the scoring by pushing deep into the zone and picking up a rebound off a shot from Alex Pietrangelo. With the absence of the top goal scorers on the team, the contribution by the defensemen is paramount. Nic Hague, Alex Pietrangelo, and Shea Theodore all have 3 goals apiece.

Evgenii Dadonov, who took a stick to the face in Tuesday night’s game, was not expected to play last night, but he was a last-minute addition to the lineup. Dadonov made good on his insertion by assisting on Hague’s opening goal.

Robin Lehner, who for some reason still has to earn his recognition from a portion of the fan base, once again was excellent in the net. Robin stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced.

Other game notes and quotes. This was the first visit to T-Mobile by Detroit in 971 days.

“It was exciting to get back in,” Zac Whitecloud said. “Obviously, when you’re injured for an extended period of time or any time you’re away from the boys and the regular schedule, you start to miss out. Sitting up in the press box, you just want to get back to playing as quickly as possible. It’s exciting to be back contributing.”

Michael Amadio entered COVID-19 protocol Wednesday. He’s the third player since Monday, along with forwards William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault, to go into protocol.

I asked Coach DeBoer about the resiliency of his team.

“Really proud of them,” he responded. “It seems like every day we get something new thrown at us. They don’t let anything affect them. It was a real solid game.”

Nic Roy had an assist in his 100th NHL game.

“We have one more game here on the homestand and we’ve got to take care of business,” Robin Lehner said, “but so far it’s a testament to our group, system, coaches, everyone. We’re fighting through a lot of adversity. Really proud of the young guys who’ve jumped in.”

My 3 Stars of the game: Zach Whitecloud (2G, including the GWG; he played 25 shifts for over 20 minutes of ice time), Nic Hague (1G, 29 shifts, and just under 22 minutes of ice time; with Shea Theodore out, Whitecloud and Hague are getting a lot of ice time), Robin Lehner (who continues to shine in the net).

Next game is tomorrow vs. Columbus at T-Mobile 7 p.m., which closes out this 6 game homestand

Your comments and opinions are welcome here at Las Vegas Advisor or you may contact me directly at [email protected] or on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of Vegas Hockey Guy or on Twitter @TheRealJoePane

One other note: If you’re reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter and would like to access it earlier in the morning before I share it on social media, it’s usually published by 8 a.m. the morning after a game on LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game.

Hague’s opening goal
Whitecloud’s game-winner
Smith with a nifty backhander

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