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Pacioretty Back in the Lineup? ‘Hard Nosed’ Ben Jones to Make NHL Debut



Max Pacioretty Vegas Golden Knights forward

The Vegas Golden Knights may get a welcome surprise on Saturday night. Winger Max Pacioretty took the ice Saturday morning during the Golden Knights morning skate. And rookie Ben Jones laughed as he worried a bit about his rookie lap.

The Golden Knights have won four of their last five games–the lone blemish was a 4-2 loss to the Metro leading Carolina Hurricanes.

Head coach Pete DeBoer didn’t specifically say Pacioretty was IN the lineup, but he seemed to indirectly indicate the talented LW was back.

“Nice to have (Pacioretty) back. I think we’ve got some players on the horizon here coming back. When the injuries started piling up four weeks ago, this seemed like a long time in the distance, but you know it is nice, and it’s energizing to a group to see guys starting to filter back into practice,” DeBoer said.

Pacioretty, 32, played two games this season and has three points (2-1-3).

His return tonight, or soon, would be a welcome relief to the team which is missing red-hot sniper Jonathan Marchessault, who is in the COVID protocol.

The Golden Knights are taking steps to prevent further outbreaks–the Saturday morning media availability was held via zoom.

William Carrier, Michael Amadio, and Marchessault are in protocol.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo also seemed to hint that Max Pacioretty was back, if not tonight, then within a couple of days.

“We’re getting impact players back (Pacioretty), I’m not sure what (Karlsson’s) timeline is, but these guys will be back sooner rather than later, hopefully. So in time to get the key players like that back coming impact the lineup, it’s important,” Pietrangelo said. “Anytime you key players like that back that impact the lineup, it’s important–(they) create some energy in the locker room. They haven’t been in the room as much as normal. So when they come down here for morning skate or games, they get pretty excited about it, too, and create some good energy for us.”

Pacioretty was injured in the second game of the season on Oct. 14. DeBoer said he suffered a lower-body fracture, which the coach termed “flukey.”

Multiple reports indicated it was a foot fracture.

Hello Ben Jones

The 22-year-old rookie and ECHL alumni will make his NHL debut when the Vegas Golden Knights host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Jones’s parents dropped everything and raced in from Waterloo, Ontario, even if they don’t understand hockey. While supportive, Jones’s parents are British and couldn’t offer much help passing along the game.

“It’s a bit challenging, still, to get over from Canada, so they kind of dropped everything and came in. I mean, they’re both British, so they don’t really know a whole about hockey, but over the years, they’ve kind of picked up some stuff,” Jones said. “I think they’re just really excited to be here. My sister’s here as well. So, you know, for me, it’s awesome to have them in town. I’m really happy that they got to be able to be here and celebrate the moment.”

Jones has spent a few years in the minors, including 12 games with the Henderson Silver Knights this season. The prospect was the Golden Knights seventh-round pick (189th overall) of their inaugural draft class in 2017.

“I think coaches kind of understand that I’m not going to be the guy that’s going to be scoring every game. But if I can chip in offensively as much as I can, I think that’s a part of my game that I can definitely add and feel like throughout the years I’ve been able to add,” Jones conceded. “But you know, the defensive side of things and kind of hard-nosed hockey is more of my focus every single night. If the offense comes, that’s a great part of it.”

The 6-foot, 187-pound forward has four goals and six points in 12 AHL games this season.

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