Jack Eichel cleared to make contact, Golden Knights ready for Alberta road trip | Sports in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — The Golden Knights returned to City National Arena Monday morning after the All-Star’s five-day break with positive news about Jack Eichel’s injury status.

For the first time since the trade, the superstar center was seen skating without the contactless jersey. Nearly three months after his artificial disc replacement surgery, doctors cleared Eichel for full contact.

“We made a lot of contact before we practiced with him today,” Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said. “So he left at 9:30 a.m. and was fighting with [Alec] Martinez, doing 1-on-1 things, getting real contact, as opposed to what you saw in training there. It’s the first day of full contact he’s had in 17, 18 months or something. Now it’s a question of how he reacts, do a little more the next day, a little more the next day.”

FILE – Buffalo Sabers forward Jack Eichel (9) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers in Buffalo, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Jack Eichel era in Buffalo is over, with a nasty public divorce reaching an eight-month finality on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, when the Sabers traded their ex-captain and the face of the franchise to the Vegas Golden Knights. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

Eichel skated a line with the extras, while getting time with the first-team power play unit.

“He’s damn good,” Golden Knights defenseman Ben Hutton laughed. “He’s a great skater, he’s powerful, strong, he’s going to help this team a lot.”

“Hopefully there won’t be any setbacks, he’s feeling good right now talking to her, he’s excited,” DeBoer said. “I don’t know what the timeline will be, but at least the process has started.”

The process is going well for Eichel, but not so much for Alec Martinez. The Golden Knights defenseman has been out the last 32 games, after taking a skate to the face on November 11. DeBoer says he doesn’t know if the NHL’s leading shot blocker from a year ago will play on the next two-game road trip.

“It’s been a long journey. I think there have been positive steps, there have been setbacks along the way, one was a COVID setback, he was hit much harder than everyone else” , DeBoer said. “I think if you talk to him, it’s been a long and frustrating journey. I think good things are happening, but I wouldn’t say we’re one game decision away yet.”

Looking ahead, the Golden Knights will only play seven more games in February, followed by 16 games in March. Vegas’ next two opponents, Edmonton and Calgary, will play a combined 20 games over the next three weeks. The Oilers and Flames each have four games in hand against the Pacific-leading Golden Knights, meaning points are now valuable in the divisional race.

“Important games, but we also have good practice time and the last opportunity to have good practice time for the rest of the season,” DeBoer said.

“Get the most out of your matches, I’ve always been a player I like having a consistent match schedule and playing every other day or every other day is quite beneficial, but I guess we’ll have time off “said Golden. Knights forward Reilly Smith. “March will be full of games and the same with April. Make the most of this month, I guess we’ll be in the gym a bit more than we want to be.”

The Golden Knights begin their Alberta road trip in Edmonton on Tuesday night, followed by a visit to Calgary on Wednesday.

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