Note: I’m not a superstitious guy, so I’m proceeding with writing this article. If anything bad happens within the next few games or practices, please take your anger out on my twin brother, Snowin Krepps.
Three. That’s the current number of man-games lost that the Vegas Golden Knights have had 17 games into the 2022-23 NHL season. William Carrier missed a game with a minor injury, and Keegan Kolesar two with illness.
The only reason members of the Golden Knights have missed games is either because of contract disputes or being a healthy scratch. To put this in comparison, last year, the VGK had over 500-man games lost to injury as they missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
The now Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights are seeing the benefits of a healthy lineup this season. Key players like Reilly Smith, Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, and Alec Martinez are all back healthy and at 100% after having significant injuries in 2021-22.
“I think that just goes to show what time of a team we are. We have a lot of the same pieces; it is just that everybody is healthy,” said Golden Knights forward Brett Howden.
But why is this? What has caused the VGK to be so healthy early on this season? Here are our thoughts.
A Full Rest
Missing the playoffs was less than ideal for the 2021-22 Golden Knights. But it had a blessing in disguise as it gave the team a full summer to recover. To our knowledge, as many as four players in the organization had some sort of off-season surgery/procedure.
These players were Mark Stone, Robin Lehner (twice), Laurent Brossoit, and Daniil Miromanov. Combine this with guts like William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Alec Martinez, and Brett Howden, who also dealt with significant injuries/surgeries, and you can see the benefits of a healthy summer of recovery.
“Our team probably needed an offseason (to regroup). The Islanders went through a similar situation last season,” said Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon on the 32 Thoughts Podcast.
Earlier, we stated that the Golden Knights have only three man-games lost to injury this season. But depending on how you look at a man-game injury, this could change with your definition. Technically speaking, the Golden Knights have three obvious long-term injuries, with a trio of players out for the season.
Robin Lehner is out with a hip injury, Nolan Patrick concussions, and multiple injuries have likely ended Shea Weber’s career, which the Golden Knights acquired for cap reasons.
But looking at the Golden Knight’s offseason moves and you can also see that two of the players they traded away, Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov, have dealt or are deadline with injuries on their new teams. Pacioretty is expected to miss six months with a torn achilles.
On the flip side of things, who did the Golden Knights bring in as a replacement winger for Pacioretty and Dadonov? Phil Kessel, a guy who hasn’t missed a game since 2009.
Straight Up Luck
There were a few injuries last season to the Golden Knights that were essentially freak accidents. Alec Martinez took a skate to the face and missed over half of the season, and Brett Howden collided with the boards and injured his neck.
So far this season, none of these freak accidents have happened to the Golden Knights, thankfully.
“I think, honestly, last year was just a fluky year. The amount of injuries we had with fractures and things like that was very uncommon. I think this year being able to have a full lineup for the time we have had is very fortunate,” said Howden.
Over an 82-game schedule, injuries are bound to happen. Nobody is looking forward to them, but it will be interesting to see how the team adjusts when they do happen because health has arguably been the Golden Knights MVP so far this season.