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Graney: Trade deadline questions for Knights begin in crease

The NHL trade deadline is upon us. What are the Golden Knights to do?

Decisions will come Monday for a team that has followed a franchise-record, five-game losing streak with consecutive home victories.

The injury depleted Knights on Saturday took out the Kings 5-1 before 18,136 at T-Mobile Arena, pausing for a minute the complete combustion of a fan base.

Put down all sharp objects for now. Step away from the ledge.

“I didn’t think we had our A-plus game,” said Knights coach Pete DeBoer. “I thought we dug deep. You have to dig in and block shots and do all the grunt work around the net.”

Deadline issues

I’m not sure the deadline is that difficult an issue. If management believes that a majority of those leading players out with injury could return for the playoffs and that this remains a Stanley Cup contending side, it should stand pat or even try adding a piece or two.

But if it thinks the toll has been too overwhelming to make a deep run or even qualify for the playoffs, act the part of seller and see what value pending unrestricted free agents might deliver.

Neither choice overrides this: If the team makes the post-season and doesn’t have a healthy Robin Lehner in goal, any advancement is as unlikely as the Golden Knight ever losing his pregame battle. It won’t happen.

Which brings us to Logan Thompson.

He started a second straight game Saturday in net and yet just his fifth in six appearances this season. He was also much better than good, stopping all but one of 38 shots.

Thompson beat high-scoring Florida on Thursday.

“He started (again) because you have to win games,” DeBoer said.

Which says everything about veteran Laurent Brossoit right now.

“That’s his game,” said center Chandler Stephenson of Thompson’s victory. “He won it for us. He can be that guy when we need a stop.”

For now.

Fact: The severity of Lehner’s lower body injury is unknown and with Brossoit struggling, Thompson has delivered. But while that might work down the stretch of a regular season, the playoffs are a whole other monster.

The Knights either need to be convinced Lehner would be ready or at least scan the market for a veteran presence — and what it would cost — as Monday arrives.

We will know soon.

But it appears the injured team from Saturday can make this playoff push a successful one. Jack Eichel didn’t miss a game after being hurt Thursday, the skilled center assisting on Stephenson’s power play goal. Special teams were terrific.

This is how you win with so many regulars watching in expensive suits. Grind things out while getting superior play in net. Nobody feels sorry for the Knights. They’re on their own.

Reality of sports

It’s like when they traded goalie Marc-Andre Fleury last off-season. In the best interest of a team trying to afford itself the ultimate opportunity to win a championship, no asset is safe from being shipped out.

It’s part of professional sports.

So are injuries.

T.J. Felix is a hockey player from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He’s 24 and competes for the Colorado Warriors, who provide opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities.

He attended both the win against Florida and Saturday’s victory.

“You can have an amazing team and things like all these injuries just happen like they have for (the Knights),” Felix said before entering T-Mobile Arena. “I still think they have a chance to make the playoffs. I wouldn’t say they’re a Stanley Cup contender right now — there are a lot of good teams. I mean, the Avalanche are on fire. You know what I mean?”

Spoken like a true Coloradoan. But, yeah, we know what he means.

It’s not something the Knights need worry about just yet.

Monday is upon them. Decisions need to be made.

The most important one coming from the crease.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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