The Vegas Golden Knights will be without Ryan Reaves for Game 1 in the WCF.
After finally figuring out Thatcher Demko and the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7, the Vegas Golden Knights will now play in the Western Conference Round for the second time in three years.
They will face the Dallas Stars who overcame the Colorado Avalanche in seven, and it should be a compelling series with both teams boasting good goaltending, solid depth and potent weapons.
However, the Golden Knights will be without a key cog in Game 1 on Sunday.
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That’s because Ryan Reaves has been suspended for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final for an illegal check to the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte in Game 7.
Reaves caught Motte with his shoulder and was ejected at 16:30 in the second period, with the Golden Knights assessed a five-minute major.
While a bottom-line grinder, Reaves plays a key role for Vegas and is a valuable member of this franchise.
Not only is he a master of his craft when it comes to stifling opponents with a bone-crunching hit or by dropping the gloves to give his team a jolt of energy, but Reaves can also contribute offensively.
He has four assists for four points with a +2 rating in 15 postseason games, averaging 9:27 minutes of total ice time.
Reaves’ suspension is also a rarity and it isn’t a fair reflection of who Reaves is as a player; a disrupter but one who plays the game the right way.
That is backed up by the fact that the grinder only has three penalties so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 5, 2020
And Golden Knights Head Coach Peter DeBoer has also stressed just how clean a player Reaves is:
“In my time, both coaching against Ryan and now with him, he’s the cleanest, toughest player I know. Very rarely does he take penalties, he very rarely takes liberties. He doesn’t take advantage of people in vulnerable positions, even though he could, and yet he plays as physical a brand of hockey as anyone in the league.”
-DeBoer via the NHL Media Conference Call.
With Reaves now out of the lineup, that leaves a spot open on the fourth-line for someone to come in.
Tomas Nosek was back in the lineup for Game 7, playing 11:21 minutes, and the forward could slot in on the fourth-line with Nick Cousins coming back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch last time out.
However, there is no getting away from the fact that Ryan Reaves will be a big loss and the Vegas Golden Knights will need others to step up and fill that physical void.