The Vegas Golden Knights will have a familiar face in the lineup tomorrow night when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks, as GM Kelly McCrimmon told reporters including Mike Morreale of NHL.com that Max Pacioretty would make his postseason debut. The top-line winger missed the entire round-robin but won’t be held back when things get going in the first round:
I think Max’s workload will be identical to what it was. I don’t think that will change in any way shape or form. He’s completely ready to go. We’re not worried about that at all.
“Patches” as he is called by his teammates, was feeling right at home this season with the Golden Knights after a rocky first year with the team. Following a trade from the Montreal Canadiens, the only NHL team he had ever known, Pacioretty scored just 22 goals and 40 points in 2018-19. That was low for him, but things were right back to normal this season when he broke the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his career and led the Golden Knights with 66 points in 71 games.
- It was Joonas Korpisalo back in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a winner-take-all game five last night. Korpisalo would end up getting a shutout in the deciding game and he’ll have every chance to roll with the Blue Jackets for some time. Tandem partner Elvis Merzlikins, who came in for Korpisalo partway through the series, is out indefinitely with an injury according to head coach John Tortorella. Tortorella told team reporter Jeff Svoboda “he’s out. I’m not sure how long.” Merzlikins was outstanding in his first taste of NHL action this year, posting a .923 save percentage as a rookie. He also stopped 70 of 74 shots against the Maple Leafs, who had trouble scoring no matter who was in the net for Columbus.
- Micheal Ferland remains “unfit to play” according to Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green. Ferland actually left the bubble in Edmonton last week and returned home to Manitoba after leaving a game against the Minnesota Wild. While the team cannot comment on the exact injury due to the COVID-19 reporting protocols, Darren Dreger of TSN was told at the time that Ferland was dealing with similar post-concussion issues that kept him out for most of the year. Though the team had said he would be re-evaluated after the Minnesota series ended, it’s clear that a return is not in the cards just yet.
- The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals could potentially both be getting some reinforcements for their first-round series. Brian Compton of NHL.com reports that Johnny Boychuk is “highly probable” for game one, while Samantha Pell of the Washington Post was told by Capitals coach Todd Reirden that John Carlson took part in their optional skate today and is “taking steps in the right direction.” Carlson, a Norris Trophy finalist as one of the league’s top defensemen, didn’t play in the round-robin after taking an awkward fall in the Capitals exhibition game.