What About Stone?
6 months ago
We don’t know anything more about the status of Mark Stone’s cranky back going into tonight’s series opener with the Edmonton Oilers than what the video of the Vegas Golden Knights captain gingerly leaving the ice Tuesday tells us.
In true NHL playoff tradition, Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t going to tell us anything – unless he scratches him before the puck drops tonight, which will speak for itself. Stone damn sure didn’t look comfortable leaving the ice and walking to the room Tuesday, but what does that really mean? Nothing, that’s what.
The video from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug of Oilers captain Connor McDavid looking like he was favoring his left leg a week ago created some consternation, but whatever was ailing him didn’t keep him off the ice – or from scoring a goal and adding an assist in the series-clinching 5-4 win over the Las Angeles Kings.
What we know for sure about Stone is he’s a helluva player and he’s had multiple back surgeries. The latest came after 43 games this season and kept him out until the Golden Knights’ first-round 4-1 series win against the Winnipeg Jets. Anything else is a guess.
The way I see it, that’s all the more reason for the Oilers to finish every check they get a chance to deliver on Stone tonight, assuming he plays. Greasy? Of course it is, but that’s part of the game and there’s something to be said for clarity, no? You can bet the Golden Knights will try to do the same with McDavid.
During the 2020-21 season, Stone missed 40 games and had back surgery in May. The talented right winger was back under the knife again this season after tallying 17-21-38 through January 12. Back for the Winnipeg series, Stone was terrific and he scored 3-5-8 in five games. He is Cassidy’s second-line right winger alongside Brett Howden and Chandler Stephenson and the RW on his first-unit power play.
As you’d expect, Cassidy didn’t provide any insight, zippo, Tuesday when he was asked about Stone. “Assume everything is good, haven’t heard any differently,” he said. Might there be an update before we see the line-ups tonight? I very much doubt it. Chances are, it will be up to the Oilers to press the question out on the ice.
That’s just the way it goes once you get into the post-season. Most players are banged up to varying degrees. The fact McDavid was back in the line-up to help finish off the Kings, doesn’t mean that he’s playing at 100 per cent. He isn’t. Same holds true for Stone if he’s on Cassidy’s line-up card tonight.
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