Ryan Reaves took another step in his injury recovery.
The fourth-line winger participated in the Golden Knights optional morning skate Friday, though Reaves has not been cleared to play and missed his 13th straight game against St. Louis at T-Mobile Arena.
“He’s not ready yet,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “But hopefully getting closer. It’s nice to see him and he sure looks better than last time we saw him.”
Reaves sustained an undisclosed injury in the victory over Arizona on April 9 and did not play the final 7:37 of the third period. Earlier in that game, Reaves was involved in a heavy collision and appeared to have knee-on-knee contact with Coyotes defenseman Jordan Gross, who left with a lower-body injury.
Reaves is eligible to be activated from long-term injured reserve after being out for the minimum of 10 games and 24 days. DeBoer previously said he expected Reaves to be ready for the postseason.
The Knights are 11-2 without Reaves but missed his physical play and presence on the forecheck during the series against Minnesota. His absence was felt during a bloody first period on Wednesday when the teams combined for 30 penalty minutes.
Captain Mark Stone pointed out after Monday’s loss to the Wild that opponents seem to do more talking when Reaves is out of the lineup, and DeBoer noticed teams were “braver” and took more liberties.
“He’s one of those guys that his value isn’t measured on a line of statistics or a line of analytics,” DeBoer said.
The AHL’s Pacific Division playoffs will begin May 18.
All seven teams will participate, which opens with a single-elimination play-in tournament at FivePoint Arena in Irvine, California.
The No. 4 seed will face the No. 7 seed, while the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds meet. The winners of those games play May 19 to determine which team advances to play the No. 1 seed.
The Silver Knights are first in the Pacific Division standings by points percentage (.647 to .645) over Bakersfield with five games remaining, all at home. The final three of those are against Bakersfield.
The best-of-three semifinals and final will take place at the higher seed’s home arena and are scheduled to finish no later than May 29.
Hague answers bell
Nic Hague probably would have liked a less experienced opponent for his first NHL fight. The 22-year-old defenseman didn’t really have a choice.
Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno wanted a piece of Hague after he drove Wild rookie standout Kirill Kaprizov into the boards from behind midway through the first period. They eventually dropped the gloves with 3:05 left in the period, with Foligno getting the slight edge in the round.
“It was obviously a chippy game,” Hague said. “It was certainly not anything I’m going to back away from. I thought I handled it well.”
Foligno is a veteran scrapper with more than 40 NHL fights under his belt, according to HockeyFights.com. Hague, who is listed at 6 feet, 6 inches and 230 pounds, had four bouts during his junior career in the Ontario Hockey League and logged two fights in the American Hockey League.
“I’m obviously going to be up for it,” Hague said. “I think everyone in our group thinks the same way. We’re always going to be supporting each other out there, kind of a pack mentality that we’re always going to have each other’s backs.”
2021 PACIFIC DIVISION PLAYOFFS
Play-In Series (May 18-19)
Game 1 – Tue., May 18 – #4 vs. #7, 1:00 PT (at Irvine, Calif.)
Game 2 – Tue., May 18 – #5 vs. #6, 7:30 PT (at Irvine, Calif.)
Game 3 – Wed., May 19 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7:00 PT (at Irvine, Calif.)
Semifinal “A” (best-of-3; to conclude by May 24)
Game 1 – #1 vs. Play-In winner (at higher seed)
Game 2 – #1 vs. Play-In winner (at higher seed)
*Game 3 – #1 vs. Play-In winner (at higher seed)
Semifinal “B” (best-of-3; to conclude by May 24)
Game 1 – #2 vs. #3 (at higher seed)
Game 2 – #2 vs. #3 (at higher seed)
*Game 3 – #2 vs. #3 (at higher seed)
Pacific Division Finals (best-of-3; to conclude by May 29)
Game 1 – Semifinal winners (at higher seed)
Game 2 – Semifinal winners (at higher seed)
*Game 3 – Semifinal winners (at higher seed)