Things were just starting to go Cody Glass’ way.
Now, with one elbow to the head, that progress may have shattered.
Losing 5-0 to the New York Rangers on Sunday night wasn’t the biggest loss of the evening for the Vegas Golden Knights. Entering the weekend matinee on a five-game point streak, and hosting a team that was clearly motivated after getting run out of Madison Square Garden six days prior, it’s not like the Golden Knights losing was an unforeseen circumstance.
But with the Golden Knights already down 3-0 in the second period, in a game which they dominated for the better part of half of it, you couldn’t imagine it going from bad to worst.
Alas, it did, at 16:47 of the second period.
Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux goes for the hip-check along the corner in the Vegas zone. He does a full 180, his right elbow comes up and catches Glass in the head.
The first ever draft pick in Golden Knights history stayed on the ice for a couple of minutes. He got up, but Glass needed assistance off it. Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault flanked to his sides, helping him to the bench. His head, still perched down as he got to the bench, did not raise when he got there. He needed more help just to get back to the locker room.
This will not be a space dedicated to it being a dirty hit or not, or if NHL Player Safety should take a look. I’ve left that up to Twitter dot com, flooding mine and the KOI Twitter’s mentions over the course of the game and even long after Vegas’ five-game point streak ended Sunday night.
But the Golden Knights surely didn’t like it.
“Obviously didn’t like the hit,” Stone said. “[I] thought it was reckless, but that’s the type of player that guy [Lemieux] is.”
“I think we all seen the hit,” coach Gerard Gallant followed after the game. “It was a flying elbow to his head and it wasn’t called. It’s disappointing. I hope it gets looked at. I think it’s a bad hit.”
William Carrier eventually fought Lemieux in the third period to defend his young teammate.
“We all saw what happened, and it can’t happen,” the fourth-line forward said. “I don’t know if he did it on purpose, but he’s got to answer to it. Same for me when I do those kinds of hits. Just got to answer to it, and he did.”
The promising rookie season for the 20-year-old Glass has taken an abrupt pause at this current juncture. I’m no doctor, but that’s about 99 percent certainly a concussion. If that’s the case, and Glass is out for an extended period of time, that’s two centers lost to head shots in the span of a week. Cody Eakin is week-to-week with what’s being labeled as an upper-body injury.
Eakin’s absence gave Glass the opportunity to center the third line. Glass had been the third-line right wing when Alex Tuch made his season debut on Oct. 30. The points haven’t come (four in the past nine games), but there’s promise on the power play and his defensive game continues to improve.
Now, everything is in shambles. The Golden Knights are down two centers. Nicolas Roy is near a lock to be called up from AHL Chicago in the next 12-24 hours. The third line continues to be the island of misfit toys that no one wants to even touch. The luck on that line continues to be horrid, and it might have just gotten worse.
The Golden Knights ran into a buzzsaw Sunday, watching Alexandar Georgiev save all 38 shots and look like a brick wall in the first period. He stopped all 17 shots he saw in the first 20 minutes. There was one instance where Vegas had an 8-2 edge in the shot department before Artemi Panarin broke the ice at 11:03 of the first period. Fourteen seconds later, Chris Kreider made it 2-0 and the Rangers were off to the races.
“We owed it to ourselves after that game [on Monday],” said Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad, who scored a goal in the third period. “Knowing how they play was so fresh last week. It was a good response, and we got away with two points.”
Malcolm Subban made his seventh consecutive start and made only 20 saves on 25 shots. Marc-Andre Fleury’s status for Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks is up in the air. Gallant mentioned he would like to get Fleury more practice run before throwing him out into the starter’s crease for a game.
But on this night, an understandable off night for Subban, the goaltending depth is not the question. It is the depth within the Golden Knights’ organization that will be tested in the coming days, unless Glass miraculously drinks some sort of potion from Madam Pomfrey to get through the night.
The Golden Knights may have lost the game, but this was a game that really shouldn’t have been cared all that greatly about. The fact they may have lost their top rookie for a long period of time is far more concerning.