VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Ryan Reaves once tried to take a faceoff when he played for the Blues, and St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock called timeout to tell the rugged winger, “Get out of the faceoff dot!”
“Oh, yeah, absolutely,” Reaves said with a laugh Thursday after the Golden Knights’ morning skate at Rogers Arena. “It’s crushing to the confidence, trust me. I was not allowed to take a lot of draws in St. Louis, that’s for sure.”
Reaves has taken more faceoffs through 27 games than he did in his first eight seasons combined, and his win in the circle Tuesday led to his goal in the Knights’ 8-3 victory at Chicago.
“You win the faceoff, you start with the puck. You see the last game, sometimes it turns into a goal,” Reaves said. “I think for our line, starting with the puck is good because we can get in on the grind right away.
“I’m not just going in there to look good because I’m in the faceoff dot. I want to win them.”
Nobody is going to mistake Reaves for Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, arguably the NHL’s premier faceoff man, but he holds his own.
Reaves has taken 62 faceoffs this season, with a 43.6 percent success rate (27-35). He took a total of 50 draws in his first eight seasons, going 25-25.
When the offensive-zone faceoff is on the right dot, center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare usually gives way to Reaves, a right-handed shot who tries to win the draw on his backhand.
He won the faceoff cleanly against Chicago’s Dylan Strome during the second period Tuesday and then got a piece of Deryk Engelland’s shot from the point, a tip-in for his fifth goal.
“I got no issue with him going in there. He’s done it a lot this year,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “People don’t think of him as being a good faceoff guy, but he works at it and does a real good job for us.”
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had a quiet 34th birthday Wednesday, from all accounts, enjoying dinner with teammates.
Fleury wasn’t available to the media after the morning skate, but defenseman Nate Schmidt indicated the notorious prankster was on his best behavior.
“You don’t know what to expect because you’re trying to surprise him, and usually he’s trying to surprise you. It’s interesting,” Schmidt said. “I was nervous I was going to get whipped cream in my face at dinner. It’s Flower’s birthday. You never know. You. Never. Know.”
The Knights originally were scheduled to practice Wednesday in Vancouver, but Gallant decided after the win over the Blackhawks to give the team the day off.
The Knights had a stretch of five games in seven days (Nov. 18-24) and went 4-1.
“When the coaches are tired, you can tell the players are tired,” Gallant said.
Prospect moves junior teams
Jake Leschyshyn, a second-round pick by the Knights in 2017, was traded by Regina to Lethbridge in a blockbuster major junior Western Hockey League trade.
Leschyshyn was Regina’s captain and has 16 goals and 32 points in 25 games.
The deal does not affect his status with the Knights.