The Vegas Golden Knights have arrived.
In their first ever game, Vegas defeated the Vancouver Canucks, 9-4, and set the franchise off on the right track.
After killing off an early 5-on-3 Canucks power play, the offense went to work and never really let up. The scoring began with Tyler Wong’s tally with the man advantage four minutes and 58 seconds into the contest and finally concluded with Paul Thompson’s goal, the Golden Knights’ ninth of the afternoon with just over three minutes to go in the third period.
There was a lot to unpack in the Knights’ inaugural frozen affair, but here are our key takeaways from the game:
Tyler Wong is a force to be reckoned with.
The 21-year-old WHL veteran burst onto the scene this afternoon, netting not only the franchise’s first goal, but also a hat-trick by the time all was said and done. Wong, who captained the Lethbridge Hurricanes the past few seasons, also added an assist on Tomáš Nosek’s first period score. Despite starting the game on the fourth line alongside Nosek and Stefan Matteau, Wong made the most of his 11:02 of ice time and turned quite a few heads. After notching 109 points in 69 nice WHL contests this past season — and adding 24 in 20 playoff games — the Airdrie native may be ready for the big leagues.
Dylan Ferguson was quite a get.
Ferguson, a Dallas Stars’ seventh-round pick this past June, was acquired alongside a future 2nd-round pick in exchange for expansion draft selection Marc Methot. For what many would consider a “throw-in,” Ferguson dazzled against the Canucks, stopping 29 of 33 shots, including 20 of 22 (.909 save percentage) at even-strength. The young netminder is still a few days shy of his 19th birthday, and although goalies are historically pure voodoo, Ferguson appears to have a bright career ahead of him.
Cody Glass is NHL-ready.
Glass was all over the ice, especially in the first two periods. The Knights’ first-ever draft pick showed why he was worth the sixth selection by displaying keen puck skills and a knack for threading the needle, which he did twice in the first period, resulting in a pair of goals. While he likely would benefit from adding bulk to his 6-foot-2, 187-pound frame, there is no doubt that skill-wise he is capable of playing in the best league in the world.
Nick Suzuki comes alive in the third period.
Truth be told, Suzuki did little to show what made him a lottery pick this draft through the first two periods. Once the final 20 minutes rolled around, however, the Owen Sound Attack center was electric, lighting the lamp following some gorgeous puck theatrics and later notching a secondary assist on Paul Thompson’s goal, via a slick feed from Nicolas Hague.
Alex Tuch should be an NHL regular this season.
Tuch always seemed to be in the right place at the right time and was able to use his huge frame to win several board battles. The former Minnesota Wild prospect’s gritty play in front of the net paid off, as he tipped home a Shea Theodore wrister for Vegas’ fifth goal of the contest. Tuch, who recorded 37 points for the Iowa Wild last season, has a good chance to begin the season in Vegas’ bottom-six.
Tomáš Hyka has an NHL-caliber shot.
If there is any player that deserves the nickname, “The Slot Machine,” it may very well be Hyka. Both of Hyka’s goals were absolute bullets, the first coming on a one-timer feed from Cody Glass and the second one a dynamite snapper from the edge of the face-off circle. Both Vancouver goalies, Richard Bachman and Thatcher Demko, never stood a chance.
Griffin Reinhart is running out of chances.
Reinhart started on the top pairing with Shea Theodore and did little to show he earned the honor. Despite roughing up Canucks winger Darren Archibald following a questionable hit against Matteau, the former fourth-overall pick was a few steps too slow and showed mediocre hockey sense. Unless his play picks up considerably, he is likely headed for middle-pairing duty on the Chicago Wolves.
Shea Theodore was a mixed bag, but mostly good.
It would certainly appear that head coach Gerard Gallant has Theodore tapped as his power play quarterback, as the former Duck logged over eight minutes with the man advantage. Oddly enough, as Knights beat writer Jesse Granger pointed out, the young defenseman opted for hard snap shots from the point rather than slappers, which appeared to work to his detriment, however one did find the stick of Tuch, who converted the opportunity. While Theodore took a couple unnecessary penalties and coughed up the puck a few times, he looked confident in both zones and should be in the Opening Day lineup.
The Knights will look to build on their first victory when they head to Colorado to take on the Avalanche on Tuesday at 6 p.m. (PT).