Injuries a big problem for Golden Knights with Pacioretty, Stone out

Injuries a big problem for Golden Knights with Pacioretty, Stone out
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If the Kings’ 6-2 win didn’t give people some pause about the Golden Knights cruising to a Pacific Division title, then a worrisome injury list might do the trick. The Golden Knights deem Max Pacioretty out week-to-week, while Mark Stone is day-to-day … at least for now.

(Peter DeBoer noted that Stone is still being evaluated.)

Injuries suddenly a big problem for Golden Knights with Pacioretty, Stone

As a reminder, underrated winger Alex Tuch is also out with a significant injury. Reports indicate that Tuch won’t be available for the Golden Knights until around January.

If both Stone and Pacioretty are out long-term (we already know Pacioretty is out week-to-week), then the Golden Knights lose two-thirds of one of the NHL’s best lines.

While Chandler Stephenson is underrated in his own right, Pacioretty and Stone really amplify his strengths. Stephenson can use his speed to transport the puck and make room for those two outstanding wingers. With less capable support, Stephenson may also look worse.

By now, most fans realize that Mark Stone is an elite winger, and a perennial Selke candidate. Since Stone joined the Golden Knights, Pacioretty’s game has really taken off, too. Pacioretty scored 24 goals and 51 points in just 48 games last season. “Patches” also scored 32 goals in 2018-19.

[Golden Knights’ 2021-22 season preview]

Presumably, the offensive focus shifts to the Golden Knights “former first line” of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith.

The Golden Knights might also focus that much more on defense, and leaning on Robin Lehner.

If any team’s found ways to make the best of things under numerous circumstances, it’s the Golden Knights. Could we see Peyton Krebs and/or Nolan Patrick emerge in this situation? Might Vegas prove that Evgenii Dadonov was an inspired pickup, rather than a baffling one?

Ultimately, the Golden Knights would prefer that those questions were subplots, rather than ones whose answers might make-or-break at least some chunk of this season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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