Golden Knights’ Tatar ‘squeezing the stick’ as he struggles to adjust

PHILADELPHIA — Tomas Tatar admitted he’s struggling to adjust with his new team.

The veteran forward has one goal in six games since being acquired by the Golden Knights from Detroit at the NHL trade deadline Feb. 26. He has bounced from line to line, trying to find a home, get comfortable and do what he was brought in to do — produce offensively.

“Yeah, I’m squeezing the stick and it’s kinda hard right now,” he said prior to Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. “You’re trying to fit in and play your best. When you see how well everyone’s playing, you want to contribute.”

Coach Gerard Gallant has played Tatar on all four lines and he may have clicked best with Erik Haula and Tomas Hyka. Tatar skated with them Saturday against Buffalo after starting the game in Reilly Smith’s spot with William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault.

Monday, Tatar was paired with Haula and David Perron as Alex Tuch went to the first line with Karlsson and Marchessault. Tomas Hyka, who skated with Haula on Saturday, was with Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter.

“I’m not worried about Tatar one bit,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “I’m worried about Reilly Smith not playing (Monday) and James Neal not playing so we’re trying to fit our lines together.

“Tatar shouldn’t have to worry about gripping his stick. He’ll be fine. One thing about injuries with me, you have to switch up your lines once in a while, so it’s not a big deal. Tomas wants to play better and he will. No issues there.”

Also, defenseman Jon Merrill returned to the lineup Monday with Brad Hunt a healthy scratch.

Flyers’ Elliott skates

While the Golden Knights wait for injured goaltender Malcolm Subban to come off injured-reserve, the Flyers got some good news on one of their goaltenders.

Brian Elliott, Philadelphia’s starter most of the season, skated with the team Monday. Elliott has been on IR since suffering a lower-body injury Feb. 10 and has missed 15 straight games.

“Moose is such a big part of our dressing room,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Elliott. “It’s tough when a guy is injured to maintain that kind of presence. But we know we’re going to get him back at some point and to see him around the guys is a step in the right direction.”

Petr Mrazek started in goal Monday for the Flyers. He is 4-3-1 since being acquired from Detroit Feb. 19.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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