It seems a potential return to the Vegas Golden Knights lineup for Chandler Stephenson was tipped off by VGK head coach Pete DeBoer when he said yesterday his return was “on the horizon”.
Today at the morning skate, DeBoer said he would consider Stephenson a game-time decision. As we’ve come to learn with DeBoer, when he says day-to-day it means not today, but when he says game-time decision odds are good you’ll see that player.
If Stephenson does come back tonight, it’s possible the Golden Knights lines revert to something like this:
Max Pacioretty – Chandler Stephenson – Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark – Nicolas Roy – Alex Tuch
Will Carrier – Tomas Nosek – Keegan Kolesar
Stephenson has yet to score a goal in this year’s playoffs but has six assists to go with a plus-9 rating, tied for the best on the team in the playoffs with Karlsson. The line of Stephenson, Stone and Pacioretty has been one of Vegas’ most successful combos this year and when they’re clicking they can control a game.
“We have depth in scoring in all four lines and we can create some mismatches (with Stephenson back),” said DeBoer. “The few games that we’ve had a full lineup I feel we’re a different team.”
The unstated hope is that Stephenson’s return also somehow sparks the power play, which has been absent for most of the playoffs. Coming into tonight’s game, Vegas is 4-for-39 on the power play, or just a 10.3% conversion rate. Conversely, the Montreal Canadiens penalty-killing unit is ranked as the best in the playoffs at 92.9 percent.
Puck drop is slated for 6 pm PT at T-Mobile Arena.