Dylan Coghlan never has been to Florida, and the avid surfer admitted it might be tempting to find a board and check out one of the local breaks when the Golden Knights get to that portion of their road trip.
“But I don’t want to get injured or anything like that during the season,” Coghlan said. “Maybe just chill out by the beach.”
That’s probably a better plan considering the Knights can’t afford to lose the defenseman right now.
Coghlan logged a career high in ice time during the Knights’ 4-3 overtime victory over Montreal on Thursday and made a strong impression on the coaching staff in his fight for more minutes.
“It was nice to play that much,” Coghlan said Friday after practice at City National Arena. “The coaches trust me to be out there. It definitely feels good. I haven’t played that much in my career yet, so it was nice to make a difference.”
Coghlan played 25:08 against the Canadiens after defenseman Zach Whitecloud was a late scratch Thursday when his back “seized up” after warmups, according to coach Pete DeBoer.
Rather than shielding Coghlan on the third pair, DeBoer moved him up in the lineup alongside Shea Theodore and turned the pair loose.
Coghlan registered five shots on goal in six attempts to go with three blocked shots and two takeaways. Theodore played a team-high 26:33 and finished with three points, including the winning goal in overtime.
“Cogs grabbed the opportunity,” DeBoer said. “You always want to see how young guys respond to that, so instead of playing him on the third pairing, he moved up and played in the top four and responded with a real good effort.”
Coghlan needed a solid performance after he was benched in Monday’s loss to Pittsburgh and played 9:31.
Not only was he slow to react to a rebound and failed to tie up Penguins forward Teddy Blueger on a second-period goal, Coghlan was on the ice for the go-ahead goal early in the third and didn’t see another shift until the final 1:08.
Before Thursday, the only time Coghlan cleared 20 minutes in playing time was March 21 at Los Angeles when he skated 20:32 in a 3-1 loss to the Kings.
The Knights are expected to get back defenseman Alec Martinez during the road trip, and it’s unknown whether Whitecloud will be ready for Monday’s game at Washington to open the four-game swing through the southeast. Whitecloud did not participate in practice Friday.
If Whitecloud and Martinez can’t go against the Capitals, Coghlan will remain in the lineup. Otherwise, he will compete with left-hander Ben Hutton to be the sixth defenseman until Nic Hague returns from his wrist injury/stint in COVID-19 protocol.
In his second full NHL season, Coghlan has three goals and nearly doubled his career high with 11 points in 32 appearances.
“Now that he was able to get some minutes and get his legs underneath him, he’s dynamic,” Theodore said. “He’s good defensively. He’s a guy that can play in all situations. It’s good to see him play that well and hopefully build some confidence.”