Updated March 19, 2021 - 10:18 pm
The Golden Knights received a COVID-19 scare for the second time in about a week Friday but escaped unscathed again.
Center William Karlsson was on the NHL’s list of those unable to practice or play because of COVID-19 protocols Friday but warmed up and played against the Los Angeles Kings. He had a false positive test, according to the Knights.
“We found out in enough time to get him — thankfully the hotel’s close — over here and ready for warmup,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “But it was close, and it’s a stressful day, both for him waiting to see if it’s a real positive or a false and all the close contacts that have been around him because it affects everybody.”
The team experienced something similar with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury last week in St. Louis. Fleury appeared on the list of players in the COVID-19 protocols March 11, but played March 12 after additional testing showed he had a false positive test.
”It throws your whole group into disarray,” DeBoer said. “Two in 10 days, it’s been quite a thing to do with it and hopefully we don’t have to deal with this again.”
Friday’s news was another sigh of relief for the Knights. Karlsson is one of the team’s most important players. He had 19 points in 27 games entering Friday and plays in all situations.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Tomas Nosek also were in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols. Pietrangelo appeared Jan. 28 and was removed Feb. 9. Nosek appeared Feb. 10 after learning of a positive result midway through a game against the Anaheim Ducks and was removed Feb. 23.
Friday’s game against the Kings was the Knights’ 28th of their 56-game schedule.
The second half of their season will go a lot faster than the first. The Knights played their first 28 games in 65 days because of postponements, but their final 28 will be played in 49 days.
The team has more than one day off between games once in the second half. It will play on consecutive nights seven times.
“The pace, it’s been obviously quick,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “I think those teams that kind of weather those situations and obviously the schedule is a team that pays attention to rest and making sure that everyone’s taking care of themselves.”
Less mad about March
The Knights will have free time to watch the NCAA Tournament in their Los Angeles hotel rooms this weekend, but they aren’t optimistic about their brackets. Center Cody Glass said he didn’t even fill one out despite usually being “addicted” to college basketball.
The condensed schedule made it harder for players and coaches to pay attention.
“I’m sure I’m not going to win,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It was a donation to the cause.”