There’s breaking news on both sides of this Stanley Cup Semifinal series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens. Alex Tuch has been elevated to the top line in today’s morning skate with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, while Habs head coach Dominique Ducharme appears to have tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss at least tonight’s Game Three.
I like the move from VGK head coach Pete DeBoer to elevate Tuch despite the move leaving the top line without a regular center. This is definitely not the “nuclear option” some national media outlets would have you believe. Looking at faceoff percentages, Max Pacioretty went 20-23 (46.5%) this year, and Mark Stone was 12-18 (40%). Alex Tuch took the fewest draws, going 12-20 (37.5%). So while they’re not the best percentages, only Nic Roy (7-of-12) in Game One has a positive faceoff percentage for the Vegas Golden Knights in any game this series. Not as big a deal as you think.
La Vitesse Tue they say in French – speed kills. That’s exactly what the Golden Knights will hope to accomplish against Montreal tonight, beating the pointed, quick attack the Canadiens employ to the puck. Both Pacioretty and Stone were held at bay in Game Two, and perhaps Tuch can get things going in the right direction with his ability to carry the puck and drive the net to create scoring opportunities.
When it comes to critical defensive zone draws, expect William Karlsson to hit the ice and deal with the puck drops, replaced by Tuch once the puck leaves the zone.
I like it. This will be a lot of fun to watch. Good for Alex Tuch.
For Ducharme, if it is indeed a positive COVID-19 test, he’ll have to miss at least 10 days. This morning’s practice was run by assistant coaches Alex Burrows and Luke Richardson, plus goalie coach Sean Burke. There’s no word yet on if it will be coach by committee or if one person will be designated as the head coach for tonight.