The Golden Knights were one player short when they arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, for the NHL postseason tournament.
And it’s a significant absence.
Left wing Max Pacioretty did not travel with the team after sustaining a minor injury during training camp, coach Pete DeBoer said Monday during a video news conference. It’s unclear how long the Knights will be without their leading scorer.
”He didn’t practice. Max had a minor injury in training camp that we told you guys about. I expected that he’d be back by the end of the camp, but he wasn’t,” DeBoer said. “It was a little longer than we thought. He’s not with us, and he’ll join us as soon as he’s healthy and able to participate.”
Pacioretty skated July 19 in the Knights’ most physical session of training camp to that point, but he was ruled “unable to participate” by DeBoer the following day and did not practice the remainder of the week.
DeBoer noted on two occasions last week that Pacioretty was not missing because of a positive COVID-19 test.
The Knights are scheduled to play Arizona in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rogers Place in Edmonton. They open the round robin at 3:30 p.m. Monday against Dallas.
Media are not permitted to attend practices in either of the hub cities, and the Knights did not reveal line combinations or the participants from Monday’s workout.
Nick Cousins had been practicing in Pacioretty’s spot with center William Karlsson and right wing Mark Stone during training camp, but a video on the team’s social media accounts showed Chandler Stephenson in a white first-line jersey.
Tomas Nosek was shown wearing a yellow fourth-line practice jersey, an indication Cousins likely is skating on the third line.
Once Pacioretty is healthy and arrives in Edmonton, he would not be required to quarantine if he flies charter, according to the NHL’s Phase Four protocol.
If he travels by commercial airline, Pacioretty is required to quarantine four days in his hotel room until four negative COVID-19 test results are confirmed.
Should Pacioretty have prior approval from the league as an “emergent situation,” the NHL Event Medical Director would determine the length of his quarantine, if any.
Pacioretty led the Knights in goals (32) and points (66) in 71 games during the regular season. He sustained a lower-body injury in the final game at Edmonton on March 9 and was listed as week to week before the NHL paused the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s not known whether Pacioretty aggravated that injury or is dealing with a new ailment.
The conference quarterfinals are not scheduled to begin until Aug. 11, giving Pacioretty additional time to recover as opposed to if the Knights were participating in the qualifying round.
“I guess that’s one of the benefits of finishing where we did in the regular season, is we get a little bit of some lead time here and a little bit of the luxury of the round robin,” DeBoer said. “At the same time, we’re approaching these round-robin games as really important games. You want the easiest path possible, and we have a chance of getting the first seed in the West, which is huge.”
The Knights held their first practice in the hub at Terwillegar Recreation Centre, and DeBoer said they used four lines and eight defensemen for the first time since the return.
“It was probably the smallest the group got,” DeBoer said. “We got more down to a manageable game number, had a great practice. The second group, the rest of the guys skated right after us.”
Games in Edmonton, Alberta
Thursday: Knights vs. Arizona, 7 p.m. (ATTSN)
Monday: Knights vs. Dallas, 3:30 p.m. (ATTSN)
Aug. 6: Knights vs. St. Louis, TBA (ATTSN)
Aug. 8: Knights vs. Colorado, TBA (ATTSN)