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Golden Knights coach, another player enter COVID-19 protocol

Updated December 27, 2021 - 3:45 pm

LOS ANGELES — The Golden Knights emerged from the holiday break less healthy than when it started.

Not only did the team announce Monday that coach Pete DeBoer and center Brett Howden entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, but first-line wingers Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone each are game-time decisions Tuesday at Los Angeles with lingering injuries, as is goaltender Robin Lehner.

“I think everybody’s dealing with a little bit of adversity around the National Hockey League right now, so we touched on that in our meeting,” assistant coach Steve Spott said. “But saying that, I think the practice pace was good. The guys are genuinely excited to be back and to play. This is where they’re most comfortable.”

The Knights have been off since losing to Tampa Bay on Dec. 21, as the league started its holiday break early because of numerous COVID-related postponements.

The game against Los Angeles scheduled for last Thursday and Monday’s game against Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena both were postponed.

DeBoer and Howden joined defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and winger Evgenii Dadonov in the league’s COVID-19 protocol. Spott is expected to be in charge behind the bench Tuesday against Los Angeles if DeBoer is unavailable. Spott said he and assistant Ryan Craig will work with the forwards. Assistant Ryan McGill will continue to change the defense.

Dealing with COVID-19, “I think that’s going to be the new normal, unfortunately, for the entire league,” Spott said. “It’s going to be coming in each day and as much as you have a plan, you got to be prepared for the unexpected. That’s what we’re dealing with right now. That’s the state of our game, that’s the state of society.

“We just have to make sure we’re prepared as much as we can be and then read and react as we go here. I think we all agree this isn’t going away anytime soon.”

Neither Pacioretty nor Stone practiced Monday at City National Arena and were dealing with “bumps and bruises” that were not related to COVID-19, according to Spott.

Stone had two goals in the loss to Tampa Bay on Dec. 21 before he left with 12:59 remaining in the second period and didn’t return because of an undisclosed injury. Following the game, DeBoer indicated Stone may have aggravated the upper-body injury that kept him out of the game at the New York Islanders on Dec. 19.

Pacioretty has 12 goals, and his 21 points are the most in franchise history through 15 games, according to NHL public relations. But he missed more than a month with a lower-body fracture and is battling through another injury.

Meanwhile, Lehner missed the game against the Lightning prior to the holiday break because of a lower-body injury and remains sidelined even after a week’s rest.

Defenseman Nic Hague, who also was sidelined for the Tampa Bay game last week with an undisclosed injury, returned to practice and is expected to be in the lineup, according to Spott.

Goalie Logan Thompson was recalled to the newly formed taxi squad along with forwards Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg and defenseman Daniil Miromanov.

“I think any break is good,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “Whether it came at a good time, it’s obviously come at a time when a lot of things are going on. It was good. You take it to your advantage and make sure you rest, get a little break and ready to get back at it.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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