The Golden Knights are on the backup plan to their backup plan at second-line center.
Injuries to Erik Haula and Paul Stastny forced coach Gerard Gallant to elevate Cody Eakin and scattered question marks across the rest of the lineup. Gallant said Wednesday that Haula is “month to month” and Stastny is “not close,” so the Knights may need to be creative to fill the void their absences left.
Eakin responded to his promotion by scoring two of the Knights’ four goals through two periods against the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena.
Haula was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after leaving the ice on a stretcher at Toronto on Nov. 6, and Stastny has been on injured reserve since being hurt Oct. 8 in Buffalo.
That forced Eakin into a larger role against the Ducks, but also may have weakened a third line that was already struggling. The trio of Ryan Carpenter, Tomas Hyka and Tomas Nosek was a combined minus-15 the three games following Haula’s injury.
Gallant has options, including elevating fourth-line center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare or giving forward Oscar Lindberg a look in the middle. One change he said he was not considering was moving winger Jonathan Marchessault, who led the team with 15 points entering Wednesday, to center.
“I’m not going to mess around with him,” Gallant said.
The Knights also have an open roster spot and could give someone from their American Hockey League affiliate a chance to prove themselves. The Chicago Wolves have several standouts in their top six through 14 games, including forwards Brooks Macek (21 points), Daniel Carr (20), Brandon Pirri (17), T.J. Tynan (13) and Las Vegas native Gage Quinney (12).
Carr, 27, has 34 points in 94 career NHL games and was one of the Knights’ last two cuts of the preseason. He is one of the team’s best options because top forward prospect Cody Glass is ineligible to be recalled from his junior team right now.
Forward Ryan Reaves got into the holiday spirit early when he reached into the stands and gave a young fan his stick at the end of morning skate.
“When you’re a kid in a rink when you were younger and someone gave you something, it made your day,” Reaves said. “If you can do little things like that for kids, it’s just a little bonus.”
Military Appreciation Night
The Knights wore camouflage jerseys during warmups as part of their Military Appreciation Night and auctioned them off afterward.
The proceeds went to the Folded Flag Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants to the spouses and children of military and government personnel who died in the line of duty.
Brad Hunt was not in uniform Wednesday after playing in the previous six games.
Hunt, 30, is one of three Knights defensemen with a goal and the only one who at even does not have a negative plus-minus rating.