Golden Knights’ Injuries Continue to Stack Up in Loss to Kings

The Vegas Golden Knights’ return from the holiday break was spoiled on Tuesday night after coming up short against the Los Angeles Kings, losing 4-2 and picking up just their third loss on the road this season. Despite missing numerous players due to injury, they had won their previous two against the St. Louis Blues and the Arizona Coyotes, while managing to put together a 7-6-0 record throughout the month of December.

This was the second of four meetings between these division rivals this season, with the Golden Knights taking the first game 4-3 after captain Mark Stone scored the go-ahead goal in the final moments of the third period. The Kings have always been a tough team to beat with the Golden Knights putting together a 13-13-1 record against them since the 2017-18 season. 

One of the biggest factors for the Kings in these matchups has been Anze Kopitar, who currently has the most all-time points against the Golden Knights with 11 goals and 19 points through 26 games played. He is on pace for yet another strong season as he has 29 points through 28 games this season.

Golden Knights’ Power Play Stays Hot

Michael Amadio extended his point streak to four games after scoring the opening goal for the Golden Knights on their second power play opportunity of the game. They have now scored 14 goals on the power play in December, which is the most of any month in franchise history.

The power play has also been extremely efficient over the past month, operating at just over 40 percent, behind only the Edmonton Oilers for second-best in the league. What makes this even more impressive is that they’ve been able to execute on the man advantage with some of their most impactful offensive players out of the lineup.

Outside of his goal, which gave him the first three-game goal streak of his NHL career, Amadio was one of the most impactful offensive players for the Golden Knights. He was a great distributor of the puck on the breakout and in the offensive zone, he drew a penalty, and his offensive instincts have really improved by having the opportunity to play on the top power-play unit.

Amadio’s recent offensive surge could potentially provide head coach Bruce Cassidy with a big boost to the bottom six once the lineup returns to full strength, as he’s shown the ability to be impactful at both ends of the ice, and be a solid option for some secondary power play time down the stretch.

Golden Knights’ Injuries Continue to Stack Up

With Jonathan Marchessault being announced as day-to-day earlier this week due to a lower-body injury, the Golden Knights called up rookie winger Pavel Dorofeyev and defensemen Brayden Pachal from the Henderson Silver Knights to provide some much-needed relief for their injury-riddled roster.

However, the problems would only continue as Alec Martinez blocked a shot late in the first period that sent him hobbling off of the ice. Despite finishing the period, it was announced at the intermission that he would miss the remaining 40 minutes of the game, with Cassidy providing no timeline for his return after the game.

Alec Martinez Vegas Golden Knights
Alec Martinez, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Golden Knights now have seven injured players on their roster with three of them being defensemen, including Zach Whitecloud and Shea Theodore. It almost looked like they would be down to four in this game after Daniil Miromanov took a puck to the face in the second period, but he would fortunately return to the game in the third wearing a full face shield.

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With the number of injuries sustained through the first 37 games of the season and the division standings growing tighter, there could be an increased sense of urgency from the front office to bolster the roster even further if they need to place any more of these players on the long-term injury reserve. While it isn’t the ideal solution, it’s something that the Golden Knights have done before, and may have to do again this season.

Final Thoughts

There really wasn’t a lot to be upset about when looking at the Golden Knights’ performance in this game. After losing one of their most important defensemen early on, they didn’t give up many dangerous chances and they had the opportunities on the offensive side of things to put themselves in a position to win the game.

The Golden Knights will take a short trip to Anaheim to play in their second game of a back-to-back Wednesday night (Dec. 28) as they take on the Ducks before heading home to prepare for the Nashville Predators on New Year’s Eve.

With Martinez likely sidelined for their game against the Ducks, it’s possible that defenseman Ben Hutton will slot in as the next man up for the Golden Knights. He played in 58 games last season and has been a decent replacement player, but the defensive core desperately needs a boost if they are to remain competitive in 2023.