Golden Knights players are starting to rest their legs more as the regular season winds down and the playoffs come into focus.
Fewer Knights skaters are participating in optional morning skates — on-ice game-day workouts — almost five months into the season to save their energy. The team had 11 skaters practice at City National Arena ice on Friday before a game against the Winnipeg Jets, down from 13 on Feb. 16 and 15 on Feb. 12.
“Some guys don’t like to skate at all in the mornings,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “It’s really just personal preference. You look at the end of the year last year, I don’t think pretty much anybody went on for any pregame skates once you really get down in the playoffs.”
Knights players are typically given a choice as to whether they want to skate in the morning if a game follows a practice day. Schmidt said that this late in the season there’s usually a reason why someone would participate instead of resting.
On Friday morning, for example, he went on the ice to break in new skates.
“If you’re feeling pretty good, you feel like your body is pretty in tune, there’s no use wasting the energy to go out,” Schmidt said. “How good I am in pregame skate doesn’t (affect) how good I am tonight.”
Coach Gerard Gallant called morning skates “a minor thing” this time of the season, and he even gave almost every player the morning of Feb. 14 off before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He said he might do that more often down the stretch, but some players still like the option of having a pregame workout.
“It just depends on how guys feel about their game and their body,” winger Max Pacioretty said. “Sometimes when you want to feel the puck a little bit more you go out there and snap it around. We don’t burn too much energy in a morning skate.
“Sometimes guys will go in the gym and work on their body up there, and sometimes that gives you the advantage at night. It just depends on the day.”
The Knights’ game against the Jets on Friday at T-Mobile Arena came 277 days — and one regular-season meeting — after the end of the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
Schmidt said that doesn’t mean tensions have cooled from that series.
“People don’t forget,” Schmidt said. “You remember the series, you remember the games you’ve had against them, the things that were said, the chirps that were had. Those types of things don’t really go away. That’s what makes for good games and great series and what makes it that much better.”
Odds and ends
— Forward Ryan Carpenter (injured reserve, upper body) practiced after skating in a noncontact jersey Wednesday and a normal jersey Thursday. Gallant said Carpenter would “be back soon.”
— Gallant said the most recent update on Erik Haula (IR, right knee) was “real positive,” but he didn’t know when the forward would play again.
— Raiders owner Mark Davis attended Friday’s game.