ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Golden Knights dealt with false positive COVID-19 test results on at least two occasions during the regular season.
But that hardly prepared them for what happened this week.
Coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday that nine positive tests came back before the Knights were scheduled to depart for Minnesota for Games 3 and 4 of the first-round West Division playoff series.
The NHL announced Wednesday that the initial test results were reported in error and all players will be eligible to play.
“This was totally different than the one-time (false positive) tests we had,” DeBoer said. “Obviously unbelievable concern and worry about what that means and what that’s going to look like for your team going forward.”
The Knights and St. Louis Blues were the two teams impacted by the false positives. The league said the results came from the same laboratory, and during an investigation, it was determined there were similar peculiarities among the test results.
All the players were isolated and underwent further testing, which were uniformly negative.
The league did not identify which players had false positives.
“I guess first when we heard about it, it was kind of a shock,” forward Mattias Janmark said. “We kind of just let things figure itself out.”
While the Knights waited until the afternoon for the second round of testing to come back, they were forced to rearrange their travel plans, too.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and center William Karlsson had false positive tests during the regular season. Both players were ultimately cleared and did not miss a game.
“It was stressful,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “I think before playoffs started they were talking about scenarios of what happens if this breaks out or what happens to a team. It’s good that we’re here, and it was good that those were all negatives. We’re ready to rock.”
The Wild blocked a combined 49 shots in the first two games of the series, and the Knights defensemen are finding it especially difficult to get pucks on net.
Shea Theodore had eight shot attempts blocked during his 24:32 of ice time in Game 2, and three of Alec Martinez’s attempts never got to the net.
“We can do a bit better of a job getting to the net earlier. Getting pucks there quick,” Theodore said. “Even just finding sticks up in the high slot or trying to recover those blocked shots or rebounds or whatever the case is. Again, I think from everyone we have to do a better job getting pucks through.”