vgk still grinding_tonight bug

EDMONTON -- Bruce Cassidy is hoping the Vegas Golden Knights can qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and get healthy again for another championship run.

The Golden Knights coach has been forced to juggle the lineup with a number of key players injured as the postseason approaches.

Vegas is expected to be without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forwards Nicolas Roy, William Carrier and Mark Stone when it visits the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNW, TNT, MAX, SCRIPPS). The Golden Knights have a chance to clinch a playoff berth.

Pietrangelo is out with an illness and did not join the Golden Knights on their three-game road trip, which continued with a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

“We’re still grinding here and that was a bit of the message this morning,” Cassidy said prior to a sparsely attended optional practice Tuesday. “Teams don’t care. Vancouver is not worried about who’s in our lineup and who’s not, they’re missing [goalie Thatcher] Demko too, and [forward Elias] Lindholm. People have guys out of their lineup. We’ve dealt with it all year, basically after the first month on, so basically for us it’s nothing new.”

Roy has been out since April 2 because of an undisclosed injury, and Carrier, who last played March 25, was placed on long-term injured reserve Monday because of an upper-body injury. Stone is out for the rest of the regular season because of a lacerated spleen sustained Feb. 20.

Goalie Adin Hill, who had been out since March 23 becuase of a lower-body injury, will play Wednesday.

“Last year we went through it,” Cassidy said. “We’re not using it as an excuse. It does affect certain areas of your performance. Those one-goal games are probably the most affected because there are guys out of your lineup that can make a difference in the game at a key time.”

Vegas (42-27-8) holds the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, five points ahead of the St. Louis Blues. The Golden Knights also are fourth in the Pacific Division, one point behind the third-place Los Angeles Kings, who have played one more game.

“Our goal right now is to get in to see if we can get a healthy lineup dressed,” Cassidy said. “That’s still a big question mark with a number of different guys, that I can’t give you answers to when they’ll be ready to go. That’s what our team is looking at right now. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. If we find our way in [to the playoffs], we’ll be seeded where we end up seeded and then if you can get a few healthy bodies back, it might bring sort of, ‘The band’s back together’ mentality from last year. I think that’s what’s given us motivation.”

Vegas had similar injury issues last season but was able to get healthy in the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights had to use five goalies last season and turned to Hill when Laurent Brossoit sustained a lower-body injury during the Western Conference Second Round against the Oilers.

Hill missed seven games. In his absence, Jiri Patera was the backup to Logan Thompson.

“I think with us this year, we’ve typically had Logan or Adin healthy,” Cassidy said. “Now Patera’s played [six] games for a reason because we don’t want to run one guy into the ground. There was a stretch where they were both out.”

After what the Golden Knights went through last season with their goaltending, they are better equipped to deal with injury issues.

“Last year it was an unbelievable run of where, he’s out and this guy pops up and plays well, and it just continued,” Cassidy said. “So we got production from that position, which I think is rare in this League to be able to do it, that’s why I think it ended up being a great story for us in the long run.

“To me, it’s about how your team is playing in front of your goalie. Then it won’t matter because you can put different guys in there that are capable in this League and you’ll get your share of wins. If you’re not playing as well as a team, then your goalie does become more of a factor and he’s going to have to win you some games, so I guess it would depend on that.”

Vegas was bolstered by the debut of forward Tomas Hertl in Vancouver. He was acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks on March 8 but had not played since Jan. 27 because of a knee injury. Hertl is expected to be in the lineup against Edmonton after playing 20:20 and getting an assist Monday.

“I thought he played well for us,” Cassidy said. “We didn’t put limits on his minutes at all. He played on the penalty kill a little more than we would have liked (2:15) because [Brett] Howden took a couple of penalties and he’s normally in that spot. Nick Roy is out and kills a lot, so we’re looking for different people. That’s one area [where] his minutes were probably a couple of minutes higher than I was hoping for, but he’s in great shape and he got through it.”