The Vegas Golden Knights will have coach Pete DeBoer back Friday when his team takes on the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena.
DeBoer was in COVID-19 protocol for the past 10 days and missed last Tuesday’s home game against the St. Louis Blues. Assistant coaches Ryan Craig and Ryan McGill were also in protocol, which led to Vegas having to postpone its next three games against St. Louis (one) and the San Jose Sharks.
Craig returned Thursday, but McGill was not on the ice Friday.
Vegas’ head coach watched a lot of hockey and worked on some projects while cooped up at home. But no one was likely “happier” to have him home than his wife Susan.
“Ten days in quarantine with my wife. That’ll test any marriage,” DeBoer said with a laugh.
DeBoer said he could only recall missing two games in 12 years of coaching. He compared it to what a player might feel when they get injured; a sense of letting the team down.
“You get an appreciation for the ability to show up every day and work with this group and what we do for a living when you basically can’t do it for 10 days,” he said. “I tried to use the time best I could, but nice to be back.”
It’s back to business for DeBoer and the Golden Knights, and there will be some major shuffling on the blue line that comes with it. DeBoer confirmed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will not play and remains in COVID protocol, but said he’s feeling better and “pretty much asymptomatic.”
But the Golden Knights will be down their top pair of Pietrangelo and Brayden McNabb (LTIR, lower body), which bumps Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez to the top. Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague will be elevated to the second pair; both a need to happen, but a promotion for the young pairing that has done so well to start this season.
The third pair will see the NHL debut of Dylan Coghlan and the season debut of Nick Holden. Coghlan has been a rising star in the Vegas pipeline. He carries a heavy right shot and showed an improved defensive game while with AHL Chicago.
“I’m excited to see him,” DeBoer said. “In a regular year, he would’ve gotten a training camp, plus a bunch of exhibition games to give him a good look at this level. He’s jumping in mid-season, but he’s ready. I’m very confident in his abilities.”
One thing’s for sure: It’ll be an exciting day in the Coghlan-Glass-Hague household — the three are housemates, according to Cody Glass. The young players all joined Vegas in 2017; Glass and Hague via draft, Coghlan as an undrafted free agent.
“I’m really excited for him,” Glass said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Marc-Andre Fleury was first off the ice at the morning skate. Given he was supposed to start against St. Louis last Thursday, expect him to start tonight.
Vegas Golden Knights’ projected lineup vs. Los Angeles Kings
Max Pacioretty — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch — Cody Glass — Nicolas Roy
William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud
Nick Holden — Dylan Coghlan