In the annual game of postseason injury subterfuge, Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon offered the latest entry into the lexicon.
While discussing the team’s health Friday entering the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, McCrimmon skillfully stickhandled around providing specifics by using a phrase more commonly heard in the business world.
“I don’t anticipate that we’re going to have any significant shortfalls in terms of access to personnel,” he said. “We look forward to having a full lineup.”
There’s no salary cap to worry about in the playoffs, so the Knights better have a full lineup.
But the status of several key players remains a mystery for Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, and those injuries threaten to derail the Knights promising season.
“The injuries are what they are,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think that we’ve got some guys that I would consider day to day. Every day we’ll wake up and show up here and see who’s ready to play.”
Here is a quick rundown of the Knights’ injury list and the latest on whether they might be available for the postseason opener:
The winger was a full participant in Friday’s practice and took his customary place on the fourth line. After missing the past 16 games with an undisclosed injury, Reaves appears close to full strength.
Captain Mark Stone and DeBoer indicated opponents were braver and taking more liberties with the Knights while Reaves was out of the lineup. The Wild, in particular, seemed to be one of those teams.
Stone may have offered a hint about Reaves’ availability for Sunday.
“I think we’re adding a little bit of physicality back into our lineup,” he revealed. “Get some guys back for Game 1, which is exciting.”
The winger did not play in the third period of the regular-season finale Wednesday at San Jose, and DeBoer said he was shut down for maintenance after feeling a tweak. There’s no indication whether Tuch is dealing with an upper- or lower-body injury.
Defenseman Dylan Coghlan skated in Tuch’s spot on the third line during practice Friday, which appeared to be a temporary fix rather than a legitimate option for Sunday. That could be a hint that Tuch’s injury is not serious and he could be ready to face the Wild, who drafted him in the first round in 2014.
“We had a semi-optional (practice),” DeBoer said. “We had most participants but if someone wasn’t out there it doesn’t necessarily mean they were injured. We have a couple days of practice here.”
The team’s leading goal scorer (24) missed the final six games of the regular season and and it’s not clear whether he has skated on his own since being hurt May 1.
Mattias Janmark continued to skate as the left wing on the first line at practice with Stone and center Chandler Stephenson. Stone had no goals and two points in the final five games, while Stephenson produced five points with Pacioretty out of the lineup.
“You need him in there, but we have guys that can step up,” Stone said. “We just have to use our depth. We have lots of guys who can produce. It’s about execution and getting everybody going.”
The defenseman missed the final two games and remains out with a lower-body injury. It would be a massive loss for the Knights if he can’t go.
Martinez led the league in blocked shots by a wide margin and pairs with Alex Pietrangelo to match up against opposing teams top players. Veteran Nick Holden filled in at that spot during practice, and reading between the lines, that might indicate Martinez will be ready to play.
The center, who set career highs in assists and points, hasn’t played since April 24 at Anaheim when he went off in the first period with an apparent lower-body injury.
Without any practice time, it’s difficult to imagine him jumping straight into the lineup for Game 1.
Patrick Brown, who spent the past month on long-term injured reserve, centered the fourth line at practice Friday. Nicolas Roy was at the pivot for the third line in Nosek’s absence.
Golden Knights vs. Wild
First-round playoff schedule
— Sunday: at Golden Knights, noon (NBC)
— Tuesday: at Golden Knights, 7 p.m. (AT&T SportsNet)
— Thursday: at Minnesota, 6:30 p.m. (AT&T SportsNet)
— May 22: at Minnesota, 5 p.m. (NBC)
— x-May 24: at Golden Knights, TBA
— x-May 26: at Minnesota, TBA
— x-May 28: at Golden Knights, TBA