PREVIEW: Vegas Golden Knights return from pause, kick off homestand vs. LA Kings

By Field Level Media
Jan 22, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Vegas Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer (center) looks on against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Following a nine-day break due to an outbreak of COVID-19, the Vegas Golden Knights begin a four-game homestand with the first of a scheduled back-to-back against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.

The question is, who will be coaching the Golden Knights?

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Head coach Peter DeBoer and assistant Ryan McGill remained in COVID-19 protocol when the team practiced for the second straight day on Thursday. Further, there was still no official word if defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who missed both practices, would be available for Friday night’s contest.

Assistant coach Steve Spott ran both practices and was joined by fellow assistant Ryan Craig for Thursday’s practice. Spott wouldn’t confirm if he’d be the head coach for Friday’s game.

“There’s a lot of balls in the air right now,” Spott said. “It’s a new world that we’re dealing with right now at a lot of different levels. As coaches we just have to make sure we’re prepared for the unexpected.”

Vegas had to shut things down following a 5-4 shootout loss to visiting St. Louis on Jan. 26. The contest was played despite at least one positive test on the coaching staff earlier that day with general manager Kelly McCrimmon and coaches from the nearby AHL Henderson (Nev.) Silver Knights behind the bench.

The Golden Knights then postponed the second game of the back-to-back with St. Louis as well as two road games against San Jose when more positive results came in, including one to Pietrangelo. The defenseman had a game-high 28:57 in time on ice in the first game with the Blues.

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“At this point we don’t know about Alex,” Spott said. “Hopefully he’ll be back sooner than later.”

“It’s been difficult,” said team captain Mark Stone, who had three assists in the loss to the Blues. “You never want to miss a week, but we’ve done things like this in the past, whether it’s a bye week or an All-Star break, so it’s not completely out of the ordinary.”

Vegas begins a stretch that sees it play seven of eight games at home over the next 15 days with the lone road contest a makeup game against San Jose on Feb. 13.

Los Angeles brings a two-game losing streak with it to Las Vegas, including a 3-1 home loss to Anaheim on Tuesday with 19-year-old forward Arthur Kaliyev scoring the lone goal in his NHL debut. However, Kaliyev was assigned back to Ontario of the AHL on Thursday.

“He’s a young player, he was excited to play and the guys were excited for him, and that gave us a little bit of life and a little bit of energy,” said Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan. “A good start for him and he’ll learn his way through the league.”

Cal Petersen had 40 saves in the loss to the Ducks as Anaheim outshot the Kings, 43-21. McLellan made it clear he was disappointed with his team’s lack of intensity in the loss.

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“The best thing we did was review some of the video,” McLellan told LA Kings Insider. “The puck doesn’t care who gets to it first. It’s still going to lay there, and we weren’t too aggressive in terms of getting to loose pucks real quick. … We basically were a boxer who was taking punch after punch and that’s not how our team plays and will play.”

–Field Level Media