The Vegas Golden Knights are entering Game 7 against the Minnesota Wild shorthanded. Vegas will be without their leading goalscorer and some key, depth players. As of right now, both Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek will be game-time decisions for the upcoming contest. In addition to this, Vegas is also shorthanded due to COVID-19.
The absence of Pacioretty has been felt heavily by the Golden Knights. As a team, Vegas has been inconsistent with their goal production. Despite outshooting the Wild in nearly every game so far, the Golden Knights have been shut out twice this series. As for Pacioretty, he has been out of action since May 1, where he left early in a 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes. The nature of his injury is still unknown, as the Golden Knights have not disclosed this information.
The concerning part of Pacioretty’s absence is that head coach Peter DeBoer has been adamant that it is not a long-term injury. However, the star left winger has not seen the ice in nearly a month. There may be hope now, as he has been expected to be a game-time decision heading into Game 7. His presence will be greatly appreciated, especially if he brings his offensive firepower.
Nosek is an integral part of the Golden Knights bottom-six forward group. He had also been enjoying a hot streak before he suffered what appeared to be a lower-body injury on April 24 versus the Anaheim Ducks. The injury occurred early in the game as he only had a total of 1:39 time on ice.
Things began to look promising as Nosek did dress for the first two games of the series. Unfortunately, he left Game 2 early again after only recording 1:12 TOI. Since then, he has not played another game in this series. As for his current status, DeBoer has noted that Nosek will be a game-time decision for Game 7. This is promising as earlier in the series, he was still being evaluated. If he cannot return, the Golden Knights do have options as Cody Glass and Patrick Brown can slot in his role.
This year has brought forth a new obstacle to overcome: COVID-19. Throughout the season, the Golden Knights have had their fair share of players on the COVID-19 list. Now, as they enter Game 7, Vegas finds themselves without some of their key depth players.
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Both Ryan Reaves and Brayden McNabb find themselves on this list. For McNabb, he landed on the list prior to the start of Game 6, seeing the Golden Knights lose one of their best defenders. Throughout the season, Vegas has relied on the veteran’s ability to block shots and be a physical force in the defensive zone.
Reaves, who is just coming off an injury of his own, finds himself in COVID-19 protocol. The physical forward was fully placed on the COVID-19 list on May 27. DeBoer had previously said that the team was waiting on results as Reaves did not participate in Game 6.
In addition to these veterans, Peyton Krebs also finds himself sidelined due to COVID-19. Krebs made his season debut with Vegas on May 6 in a 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The 2019 first-round draft pick recorded a point in his debut and was expected to fill in when needed in the playoffs.
Heading into Game 7, the Golden Knights are missing some key players that could have shaped the series in a different light. However, even with these players, Vegas has struggled mightily against the Wild. If the Golden Knights are to move on, they should be expecting a few of these important players back on the ice. Until then, Vegas will need to find a way to win with their deep roster.