When the Vegas Golden Knights released their routine lineup for Game Two this evening, there was a name (or emoji) conspicuously missing. Despite no official word from the team – including no evidence that he is injured – David Perron will not suit up for the Knights as they look to even the Western Conference Finals series on the road against the Winnipeg Jets. Already reeling from a convincing Game One loss and likely without William Carrier for the series, this is another blow for Vegas and not ideal for matching up with the Jets.
While Perron’s status remains a mystery, one has to believe that his absence is injury related after his performance this season. Perron notched 66 points in 70 games, including a team-best 50 assists, and has added another seven points through nine games thus far in the playoffs. It has easily been the best season of the veteran winger’s 11-year career and head coach Gerard Gallant is not about to bench him for any reasons related to his play at this point in the team’s Stanley Cup run. Perron has yet to score a goal in the playoffs and has really struggled to even get the puck on net, but he has made up for it with a strong possession game and his play-making ability. He doesn’t seem at risk to be scratched at all. One possible reason for Perron missing the game could be a lingering issue related to the undisclosed injury that cost him the final six regular season games and first two postseason games. Another potential answer could be an injury related to a collision with teammate James Neal in Game One that left Perron looking shaken up. For one reason or another, Perron is out and there are no clues as to how long he will be out, but the Golden Knights must make do.
A lot of that burden will fall on the shoulders of Tomas Tatar. Vegas paid an exorbitant price at the deadline to acquire the young forward from the Detroit Red Wings, but thus far he has been a disappointment. Tatar recorded only six points and was -11 in the final 20 games of the regular season with the Knights and has found himself as a regular scratch in the postseason. In the four playoff games he has skated in, Tatar has looked good, but like Perron has had trouble getting the puck on net. As a result, he has been held scoreless. A one-shot-per-game pace simply won’t do for Tatar if he is to replace Perron successfully; the four-time 20-goal scorer needs to return to form as soon as possible. If not, the Jets’ Game One domination is only likely to continue against the shorthanded Knights.