Brad Hunt burst into the Golden Knights’ locker room after Tuesday’s practice and started talking about the bothersome itch of his playoff beard.
It’s safe to say the defenseman doesn’t appear stressed by his lack of playing time. Hunt is the lone Knights skater who didn’t crack a playoff game lineup in the first two rounds, but he’s remained upbeat in his role with the team.
“We’re all in this together. We’re all a part of it, one way or the other,” said Hunt, 29. “It’s been so much fun. We’ve got such a great group here. We come to the rink every day with our family, that’s what it is. It’s a big family here, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Hunt was a semi-regular in the Knights’ lineup throughout the season, appearing in 45 games and scoring 18 points. He proved especially effective on the power play because of his puck-moving abilities, with 12 of his points coming with a man advantage.
When it came time for the playoffs, though, the team rolled with Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller and Jon Merrill for its first eight games. Then Luca Sbisa made his first appearance since Feb. 27 in Game 5 against the Sharks, pushing Hunt further down the depth chart.
“It’s just one of those things. You always make sure you’re prepared, because you never know what can happen,” Hunt said. “We’ve got a great group of guys. They all work hard, cheer each other on, and the guys that play cheer us on, too.”
The veteran is still working hard despite the game scratches. He was one of the last Knights players off the ice Tuesday, and teammate David Perron praised Hunt’s attitude.
“He’s one of the better teammates we have in the room,” Perron said. “He’s always happy for everyone’s success. We pull for him. When he gets a chance, we really pull for him. We want him to do well. He’s an incredible guy.”
Hunt stays focused because he knows the next time he makes the lineup could be the team’s most important game of the playoffs. He said he’s taking the same approach he does during the regular season.
“You’ve always got to be sharp when you play because you don’t know how many chances you’re going to get,” Hunt said.