LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the first time in four months, the Vegas Golden Knights were able to practice as a full team, as the NHL moves into Phase 3 of its Return to Play plan.
"When the pause happened, we were probably playing our best hockey of the season so we just gotta pick up where we left off," said Nick Cousins, forward for the Golden Knights.
The Vegas Golden Knights were leading the Pacific Division when the NHL abruptly paused the season back in mid-March. And although training camp officially began Monday, the Golden Knights have spent the last four or weeks getting their legs under them, working out in small groups.
"When you start back, you're a little sore, the hips, the groin, but we've been through that already and we're already scrimmaging so it's all about getting that game speed back," said Jonathan Marchessault, forward for the Golden Knights.
Putting in the work during Phase 2 meant a solid start to Phase 3, in the eyes of head coach Peter DeBoer.
"They were way ahead of where I even expected them to be first day so good stuff," DeBoer said.
The Golden Knights will need a lot more "good stuff" to make a run in this year's unprecedented playoffs.
"People are going to remember who won the Stanley Cup and I think it might be the toughest Stanley Cup to win," DeBoer said.
Why? Because teams are at full-strength. Players are healthy and hungry for a win.
"Whoever wins it will have earned it," DeBoer said.
As for the timeline, Phase 3 will continue for 13 days. The Golden Knights will travel to their hub city, Edmonton, on July 26 and will begin play on Aug. 3 against Dallas.