Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Wednesday he’s encouraged by the team’s progress under coach Pete DeBoer.
The Knights fired Gerard Gallant as coach Jan. 15 after 24-19-6 start. They are 7-3-2 since.
DeBoer has tweaked the systems, special teams and lines and has delivered results during a difficult stretch. His first seven games were on the road and his first eight were without center William Karlsson.
“He came in at a challenging time in our schedule,” McCrimmon said. “I like the improvement that I see in our team.”
There’s no doubt the Knights have experienced an uptick under DeBoer. They’re scoring more goals. They’re allowing fewer.
They rank sixth in the NHL in points percentage since he was hired despite their daunting schedule. The Knights played eight of their first nine games with DeBoer on the road, then began a strenuous five-game homestand Feb. 13.
They’ve started the homestand 3-0. They’ve defeated the last two Stanley Cup champions (St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals) and a team in line to make the playoffs (New York Islanders).
On Thursday, the Knights host last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner, the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s another test, but DeBoer has passed each one thrown his way.
“Am I encouraged that our team has played better of late? I am,” McCrimmon said. “They’ve played well. We’ve beat real good teams. (Those are) the kind of teams you have to beat if you’re going to be successful playoff time, so that’s encouraging.”
Tuch lands on IR
The Knights placed right wing Alex Tuch, who is week to week with a lower-body injury, on injured reserve. He was placed on long-term injured reserve, which allows the team to exceed the salary cap limit by his $4.75 million hit, according to the website CapFriendly.
McCrimmon said he expects Tuch to return before the end of the regular season. He has eight goals and nine assists in 42 games. He was injured in the Knights’ 6-5 overtime win over the Blues on Feb. 13.
The Knights recalled center Nicolas Roy and defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt from the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves on Wednesday.
Roy has six points. Whitecloud has yet to record a point. He’s played in seven of the team’s last eight games. Schuldt made his NHL debut April 6 and hasn’t appeared with the Knights since.
The team now has nine defensemen on the roster.
Golden Knights before and after Pete DeBoer’s hiring
Before — After
3.02 (16th) — Goals per game — 3.42 (7th)
3.04 (15th) — Goals against per game — 2.83 (10th)
22.1 (9th) — Power play percentage — 19.4 (17th)
78.8 (19th) — Penalty kill percentage — 75.7 (25th)
.551 (19th) — Points percentage — .667 (6th)