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Morning Skate Report: Rookies get spotlight with wait-and-see on Fleury

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Right now with Marc-Andre Fleury, it’s playing the waiting game.

Until then, the Vegas Golden Knights are planning to roll with a young goalie tandem for their back-to-back this weekend against the St. Louis Blues, starting Friday.

Fleury, the Golden Knights’ No. 1 goalie this season, was placed on the league’s COVID-19 related absences list on Thursday.

“Not much to say,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “He’s on the list.”

Deboer stressed the importance of not jumping the gun of Fleury missing two weeks due to COVID. There’s the possibility of a false-positive, which could bring Fleury back to the lineup sooner than later.

Fleury is currently isolated in his hotel room in St. Louis.

“People have to keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily mean he has COVID or he’s out for two weeks,” DeBoer said. “We’re working through that whole process right now.”

Alas, the Golden Knights will throw the youth movement in net against the Blues. Logan Thompson should make his first NHL start Friday with Dylan Ferguson as the backup.

Robin Lehner is not with the Golden Knights and will not be an option this weekend. Lehner, who was assigned to Henderson on a conditioning basis, is “getting close” to returning, DeBoer said.

The Silver Knights are scheduled to play at the Ontario Reign on Saturday, hence why Oscar Dansk is not in the lineup. Dansk will start with emergency backup Dustyn Zenner as the backup.

“It does complicate things because you can’t drive up the street to Henderson with a goaltender to throw in the mix tonight,” DeBoer said. “The bottom line is everyone is dealing with it. We’ve taken the stance from Day 1 that these things are going to be coming at us. Deal with it, and next man up, if that’s the case.”

Thompson made his NHL debut in the 4-3 loss Wednesday at Minnesota. He was the AHL’s goalie of the month in February, going 4-1-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. The Silver Knights, at 10-1-0, are the top team in the American League.

If Thompson gets the nod as expected, it’s a tall task for a 24-year-old goalie facing the Stanley Cup champions from 2019. The Blues enter on a six-game point streak and trail the Golden Knights by one point for first place in the West Division.

In the opposite crease will be Jordan Binnington fresh off signing a six-year, $36 million extension on Friday. The Golden Knights lost 5-4 to the Blues in a shootout at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 26, but Binnington has allowed 10 goals in the last two meetings against Vegas.

“We’re a tight group here. They’ve blended in and fit in well just fine,” forward Ryan Reaves said. “We joke around with them just like any other players. They’re going to be fine. We’re going to help them out.”

The Golden Knights have not lost three straight this season and will try to avoid that for the first time. They’re coming off being swept in the two-game set in St. Paul against the Wild. Despite Dylan Coghlan scoring his first career hat trick on Wednesday, no forwards have scored in the past two games.

Points percentage wise, this won’t affect the Golden Knights’ placement in the West Division. But throwing two rookies in the fray in an important game is going to be their toughest spot yet.

“Two really big games,” Reaves said. “This is a good team. They’re up there with us in Colorado as top teams in the division. These are two big bounce-back games.”

Vegas Golden Knights projected lineup

Max Pacioretty — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith

Alex Tuch — Cody Glass — Nicolas Roy

Tomas Nosek — Keegan Kolesar — Ryan Reaves

Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore

Brayden McNabb — Dylan Coghlan

Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud

Logan Thompson

Dylan Ferguson

Carrier injured

DeBoer confirmed that William Carrier’s scratch on Wednesday was injury related.

No further explanation was given, but the scratch wasn’t due to trying to find a fourth-line combination that fits. Expect to see no changes from the lineup.

Tomas Nosek played in Carrier’s role at fourth-line right wing with Keegan Kolesar centering.

How to Watch: Vegas Golden Knights at St. Louis Blues

Time: 5 p.m.

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM

Welcome to your new home for Vegas Golden Knights breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to VHN+ for all of our members-only content the entire Vegas Hockey Now crew plus an ad-free browsing experience.

Danny Webster has covered the Vegas Golden Knights since their inaugural season. A graduate from the Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at UNLV, Danny has written about the Golden Knights for NHL.com and SB Nation. He is now the lead reporter covering this young franchise for Vegas Hockey Now. Follow him on Twitter @DannyWebster21.

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