The Golden Knights will indeed rotate goalies, as for now, heading into the first game of the round robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Robin Lehner will get the start in net against the Dallas Stars on Monday, coach Peter DeBoer confirmed.
This goes in accordance to DeBoer’s plan of giving Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury two games each heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fleury stopped 22 of 23 shots in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Arizona Coyotes, a 4-1 win for the Golden Knights.
No starter has obviously been confirmed for Thursday’s round robin game against the St. Louis Blues, but that might be a spot for Fleury to get his lone tune-up game before the official field of 16 playoff format. That would lead to Lehner starting against the Colorado Avalanche.
There’s also some clarity as to who lines up for Vegas on Monday, and Max Pacioretty will not join that group. The forward and Golden Knights’ leading scorer is still in Las Vegas rehabbing from a minor injury sustained in training camp, but DeBoer said the return of his top line left winger is “on the horizon.”
DeBoer also confirmed that the lineup is expected to stay the same as it was against the Coyotes. Chandler Stephenson will skate in Pacioretty’s place, lined with William Karlsson and Mark Stone. Nick Cousins will continue to skate at third-line left wing, Stephenson’s expected position when Pacioretty returns, teamed with Nicolas Roy and Alex Tuch.
It was a good run for that makeshift third line of Cousins, Roy and Tuch against Arizona, with all three recording a multi-point game, led by Cousins’ three-point effort. The Golden Knights’ depth has never been questioned in their past three playoff appearances; it’s always been what combinations work the best. It might be the case of that third line as the Golden Knights look to claim the top seed in the Western Conference, starting Monday.
“Depth is everything come playoffs,” DeBoer said. “I was talking to [general manager] Kelly [McCrimmon] and [president of hockey operations] George [McPhee], the reason why we got Nick Cousins is because of this situation. [Pacioretty] is dealing with something and isn’t ready, so you have a guy that has the skill set to be ready to jump into the top nine and play with offensive players.
“That’s depth you might not have during the regular season that you’ll have to trade for at the deadline in order to add to your group, anticipating a long playoff run.”