Wed, 03 Mar 2021

With coaching uncertainty, Golden Knights set to meet Blues

Field Level Media
28 Jan 2021, 10:55 GMT+10

The Vegas Golden Knights will try to bounce back from their first home loss of the season on Thursday night when they host the St. Louis Blues in the second game of a back-to-back Las Vegas.

The Blues, despite blowing a 4-2 lead in the third period, won Tuesday night's opener, 5-4, in a shootoutwith Brayden Schenn scoring the winner in the third round. Jordan Binnington, who finished with 42 saves, then stopped Alex Tuch's backhand try to clinch the victory.

But that was just part of the story in a wild up-and-down game that saw the Golden Knights hit the post or crossbar six times.

Vegas had to turn to general manager Kelly McCrimmon, a longtime coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League, to coach the contest along with help from the staff of the nearby Henderson (Nev.) Silver Knights of the AHL after at least one member of Peter DeBoer's staff tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day.

"We had exposure on our coaching staff," McCrimmon said. "The best way to handle that is to isolate the entire staff. I don't know what (the next steps) are at this point. These things, there's a process that you follow. As more information is available, we'll make further decisions."

McCrimmon said "it was never a consideration" that Tuesday night's game would not be played.

The Golden Knights closed their facility in Summerlin on Wednesday but still held a workout. Members of the Silver Knights coaching staff watched from behind a glassed-in walkway upstairs.

"We're assuming we'll be back on the bench tomorrow," Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros said.

Viveiros, whose team has yet to play a game, said he and his staff learned at around 2 p.m. to report to T-Mobile Arena to help McCrimmon coach the game. Most Vegas players didn't find out until they got to the locker room.

"It was news to us when we arrived," said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo who was playing against his old team for the first time since signing a seven-year, $61.6 million free agent contract with the Golden Nights in October after helping the Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup.

"(McCrimmon) has coached before and the guys from Henderson came up and they know what they're doing too. We didn't know what the plan was originally but it worked out fine."

The last-minute change in the coaching staff may have been partly responsible for the Golden Knights twice getting penalized for too many men on the ice.

"We didn't know what we were doing originally, but it worked out fine," Pietrangelo said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment, sure. I'm not sure what the plan is moving forward, but we'll feel more comfortable on Thursday, I'm sure."

St. Louis improved to 4-0 in the first half of back-to-backs this season but is just 0-2-1 in the second game while getting outscored 16-4. It's a trend the Blues will try to end in the rematch on Thursday.

"We have to go out and fix that," said Schenn, who played for McCrimmon when he was a member of the Wheat Kings for three seasons starting in 2007. "It's early and we've got a lot of them left and we've got to fix that problem or else we're going to be a very average .500 hockey club."

St. Louis coach Craig Berube said that forward Tyler Bozak, who left Tuesday's game after taking a hard hit from Stone, won't play Thursday and is day to day with an upper body injury.

--Field Level Media

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