Right winger Alex Tuch has been locked in a training camp battle with Erik Haula to open the Golden Knights regular season on the second line.
An injury in the final preseason game will instead force Tuch out of the lineup altogether.
“He’s day-to-day,” said coach Gerard Gallant after practice Tuesday, though he declined to specify whether Tuch’s injury is lower or upper body. “But he’s not playing Thursday.”
His absence will extend beyond opening night after Tuch was placed on the injured-reserve list late Tuesday afternoon.
Haula skated with Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty on the second line and will likely be in that spot when the puck drops Thursday night for the opener against Philadelphia.
Ryan Carpenter figures to be in Tuch’s spot on the third line alongside Oscar Lindberg and Tomas Nosek.
“I’d like to have Tuch in my lineup,” Gallant said. “He’s not there so we put somebody else there. We like Tuch a lot. He’s not going to play that game so somebody else is going to be there to fill in for him, same as always.”
Tuch joins forward Cody Eakin on the injured-reserve list. Eakin skated Tuesday, although he did wear a non-contact jersey.
“Cody skated today and did real well,” Gallant said. “Again, he’s sort of day-to-day. He’s still on IR, so we’ll see. But today was his first day on the ice so he’s probably not going to play Thursday either.
“He’s getting better,” Gallant said. “We’ll see how he feels after today.”
Should Eakin not be activated before Thursday’s game, it leaves the Knights with just 12 available forwards for the opener. The move to place Tuch on IR leaves the Knights an available roster spot should they choose to recall a player until Eakin returns.
Defenseman Jon Merrill was also absent from practice Tuesday for what Gallant deemed a “personal day.”
Merrill had a good excuse. He was with his wife Jessica, who gave birth to a 7 pound, 9 ounce baby girl named Jolie.
A team spokesperson told the Review-Journal mother and baby are “happy and healthy.”
Fellow blueliner Nick Holden’s wife gave birth earlier in training camp.
Clipped for the cause
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s helmet may feel a bit looser when he suits up for practice on Wednesday.
The popular Knights forward joined patients from Comprehensive Cancer Centers in shaving each other’s heads to help kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Bellemare said his wife Hannah’s family has been deeply affected by the disease.
“I’ve worked my entire life to be part of a team and this is just another team I’m proud to be a part of,” he said hours before he was to face the clippers. “When I had the idea, she was on board right away. It’s for such a great cause, but as it’s come closer she’s like, ‘Oh my god, what did you get yourself into?’ We started thinking about how it would look yesterday. I guess we’ll see.”
The event, which was held at Toshiba Plaza just outside T-Mobile Arena, also raised money for the American Cancer Society.
Forwards Daniel Carr and Curtis McKenzie both cleared waivers on Tuesday morning. They have been reassigned to the Knights’ AHL affiliate in Chicago.
■ Who: Flyers vs. Golden Knights
■ When: 7 p.m. Thursday
■ Where: T-Mobile Arena
■ TV: NBCSN (Cox 38/1038, DirecTV 220, CenturyLink 640/1640, DISH 159)
■ Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
■ Line: Off