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Golden Knights Postgame: Reilly Smith Not Too Fond of NHL’s COVID Protocols

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Reilly Smith Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights (20-12) lost Tuesday night to the Tampa Bay Lightning (20-6-4) in regulation 4-3. A tough loss, but against a great team and a spectacular goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy nonetheless. The Golden Knights are simply happy that they got to play tonight in general.

On Monday night the NHL announced that they would be extending their Christmas break. The new break will now run from Wednesday, December 22nd to next Monday, December 27th. The Golden Knight’s Thursday matchup against the Los Angeles King will be rescheduled as a result of this.

Leading up to Tuesday night’s game the NHL canceled the other nine games on the schedule for the night due to COVID-19 concerns. The league has now postponed 45 games in the past eight days and has 50 games to reschedule.

This played a big part in the NHL’s official decision to not go to the 2022 Winter Olympics which was reported on Tuesday.

Part of the reason why so many players are being placed in COVID-19 protocols is due to the NHL’s current policies on the disease. Players are tested regardless of whether or not they are asymptomatic. For other leagues such as the NBA and NFL, only players who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are tested.

Hockey Hall of Famer and Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman thinks the NHL should adopt the policies of the NBA and NFL and only test players that are experiencing symptoms.

“Players are testing positive with very little symptoms if any symptoms at all. I don’t see it as a threat to their health at this point. So I think you might take it a step further and question why are we even testing for guys that have no symptoms?” said Yzerman.

Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith didn’t go as far as Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebyuck by saying that the NHL’s pause is “overkill” but he still was not in agreeance with the way things are going right now in the league.

“A lot of people support what Yzerman said. I wish that was our approach. We want to play. I think the NBA has taken a good approach with people who aren’t asymptomatic. I think you are only going to put fuel on the fire. This thing isn’t going to go away, so if we can play games, I think we want to play,” said Smith.

No matter how much you may dislike it, the Vegas Golden Knights will be off for at least the next five days. Their next game is scheduled to take place at home on December 27th against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche were one of the first teams to go on pause until the NHL’s Christmas break.

The Avalanche currently have JT Compher, Cale Makar, Andre Burakovsky, Devon Toews, and Darcy Kuemper in protocols. For the Golden Knights, Alex Pietrangelo and Evgenii Dadonov are the two names in COVID-19 protocols.

Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer gave some injury updates on some of his players postgame. Both Nicolas Hague and Robin Lehner missed Tuesday’s game with nagging day-to-day injuries. Lehner’s injury is a lower-body injury that he tweaked in the game against the New York Islanders.

Mark Stone left Tuesday night game after scoring two goals. He ran into Matthieu Joseph in the first period and crawled to the bench. He stayed in the game following the collision but left midway through the second period and did not return. DeBoer says they played Stone’s injury safe.

With this five-day break, the Golden Knights will ask Santa for Lehner, Hague, Pietrangelo, Dadonov, and Stone back for the team’s next game. Alec Martinez and Nolan Patrick are also inching closer to returning. DeBoer expects Martinez to be available “after Christmas” and Patrick shed his no-contact jersey during Tuesday’s morning skate. Jack Eichel is still progressing as well.

Vegas Hockey Now will be here over this extended break from not just the Golden Knights but the NHL in general. Be sure to follow beat writer Owen Krepps on Twitter @OKrepps85.

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