Much like the majority of Las Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights couldn’t watch Sunday’s preseason opener because it was blacked out locally on NHL Network. They did catch the highlights, however.
The young guys left a good first impression.
“It was a hell of a highlight reel,” said defenseman Nate Schmidt. “I thought they were more comfortable with the game than I thought they would be.”
The Golden Knights got their exhibition stint off to a good start with a 9-4 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Highlighted by Tyler Wong’s hat trick and Cody Glass’ two assists, the young Vegas team scored four goals in the first period and connected three times on the power play.
“When you get to that level, being drafted, you have to keep doing what you’re doing and do it the best,” said forward Jonathan Marchessault. “If you do it hard and do it quicker, you’ll be able to play in the NHL.”
Glass and Wong were the most impressive among the veterans during Sunday’s tilt. Glass, the sixth overall pick in this summer’s entry draft, has looked like the best player at times in training camp. He had a strong showing in the prospect scrimmage against the Los Angeles Kings, and carried that over for the games that mattered.
Wong, the 21-year-old forward who has yet to sign a contract, continues to make a strong impression for one of the remaining roster spots after his four-point day up north. Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland, praised the two for their high hockey IQ and their ability to battle any potential nerves.
“Those two guys, on my team, really stood out to me (during scrimmages),” Engelland said. “They take charge with the puck and make plays, and the nerves didn’t seem to be there for them.”
Schmidt, especially, continues to be impressed with the 5-foot-9 Wong.
"He's the guy that's been impressive,” he said. “I remember looking over at a couple of the d-men the first couple of days we did scrimmages and say, 'Wow, this kid.' He works hard, he's got a knack for the net. He's not a big guy. That's something, you can't really teach that.
“A kid like that, being able to get to those hard-nosed areas and make plays ... for him to come in here under those circumstances and perform the way he's performed, that's a really big testament for a player."
Wong and Glass will not play in Tuesday’s preseason matchup with the Colorado Avalanche, likely due to a well-deserved rest. Now, it’s some of the vets’ turn to hit the ice. Marchessault and Engelland will play, while Nick Suzuki and Tomas Hyka will be the notable prospects suiting up for Vegas in Denver.
There’s no sense of “anything you can do, I can do better,” but the Vegas prospects definitely have the attention of the vets.
“When you play good like that, you’ll get a second game,” Marchessault said. “There’s something to be proud of but there’s always more to do.”