VGK ready for final stretch run; Whitecloud, Martinez, Patrick, Lehner all return to practice

Vegas Golden Knights' Zach Whitecloud skates during the first period of an NHL hockey game...
Vegas Golden Knights' Zach Whitecloud skates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)(Jae C. Hong | AP)
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:06 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The Golden Knights are in the midst of their last, long break between games this season. Once the puck drops Friday night in Arizona, the VGK will play their final 31 games in a 63-day span.

“I think it’s been disruptive for sure,” said Golden Knights forward, Mattias Janmark. “Rather have a long one than having like two, three short ones. I think in the long run it will be good for us heading into the month of March and even beyond that. I think the longer we go here, the more games we’ll play, the more we’ll feel gained some energy and had some time to get our minds off the game and make sure we work in practice. The longer we go here, the more we’ll benefit.”

The Golden Knights last game was this past Sunday in San Jose, where Vegas snapped their three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win against the Sharks. Players love to play, but coaches love to coach, especially at practice.

“We don’t have many of them and with the schedule coming up, we don’t have many opportunities for eight defensemen, four plus lines, both goalies, so it’s nice to be able to have a day like that,” said Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer.

The guys in gold practiced for nearly an hour Wednesday morning, and joining the team for the first time in two weeks was Knights netminder, Robin Lehner, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury.

“I would call him day-to-day, so we’ll see,” said DeBoer. “We’re not going to rush him, but at the same time we’ll see how he is, he has missed pretty significant amount of time here and this was the first step today. We’ll see how quick he is to being an option for a game.”

DeBoer said if Lehner can’t go this weekend, then he will turn to Laurent Brossoit in net. The Golden Knights backup has played in 18 games htis season, starting 15, earning nine wins.

“I think he has been excellent in his role here. He has given us really solid play, he has won some games individually. Even the games that he lost, I felt he has given us a chance most nights to win. I haven’t walked out and pinned it on him. I think he has been excellent in the role for us this year.”

Also on the ice Wednesday were defensemen Alec Martinez and Zach Whitecloud. DeBoer says it’s still status quo for Martinez, and he is not close to a return, meanwhile things are more optimist for Whitecloud who has been out since Jan. 29 with a broken foot. The 25-year-old is expected back in the lineup as soon as Friday night.

Vegas will leave for Arizona after practice on Thursday. The Coyotes sit in last place in the Western Conference, and second-to-last in the entire league, behind only the Montreal Canadiens, however the message from DeBoer this week is to treat them like they will Colorado Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

“You look around the league and you see it every night, teams beat teams that you never expect would win those games. The San Jose game the other night, they played us hard. We got a couple fortunate bounces around their net or maybe that’s a 2-1 game or a different game. There are no easy nights in this league regardless of who you’re playing.”